Are you a photographer? Have you ever looked through your Instagram feed and seen amazing pictures and thought “if only I could take photos like that!”? Well, you probably could.
Photographers that take high-end photographs do have a lot of talent and a lot of experience, but I also feel that what you're seeing in an amazing photograph isn't necessarily the photographer’s talent. There are a lot of other factors that go into a great photo, that anyone else if they used the same factors, they could get not an identical but a pretty similar result.
These are the 10 steps that you can take if you want to take world-class photographs.
I’m not talking Canon 1d or the latest Nikon. I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars of medium format camera gear. Hasselblad, Leikas, Phase one. Crazy fast lenses from boutique companies no-one has ever heard of. Everything must be prime and have manual focus for an added bonus, and be transported around in no less than 50 pelican cases.
I'm talking about models with millions of followers – the cover girls and the people that appear in movies. This adds an air of glamor and fame and success to your photography. Models get millions of likes just for a selfie in the mirror. It should be pretty easy if you're shooting the most beautiful people in the world to produce some of the most beautiful photographs in the world.
Get jackets and coats and shirts and scarves that cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. Get amazing wedding dresses that billow with silk and satin in vibrant bright colors. Get a stylist who picks clothes for a living and knows how to put together an outfit that will blow your mind.
Go to the most wonderful, amazing locations in the entire world. Go where no one else has been before. Go to an abandoned castle, exotic rivers, go to isolated beaches that you have to get to by helicopter. If you want to take a picture no one else has taken before, go somewhere no one else has gone or can go.
Shoot at the most beautiful times a day, when the light is just right, which means before or after sunset or sunrise. This can be hard, because it may take you hours to get to location, which means getting up in the middle of the night to get ready for a sunrise shoot. You only really have two hours of magical light each day but that's when everything looks the most beautiful so that's when you go to shoot.
Almost every part of the image taking process can be delighted, except pushing the shutter release. A gaffer will light your subject for you. A lighting technician will fine tune it. A digital imaging assistant will tell you how the image looks coming out of the camera. Get other people on set that know how to produce these images and have worked for other successful photographers. You don’t have to design your own lighting. Someone with a lot of experience that's done it hundreds and hundreds of times can do it. They’ll tell you how to set the exposure on the camera and we'll give you moment to moment feedback on whether or not your shot is in focus and where you need to compensate.
Put up 20×20 silks. Have 10-foot umbrellas mounted to cranes. Use dozens of flashes. This will make your photographs be sure to look like nothing else out there
Don't just take one picture, take thousands of pictures. Keep your finger on the shutter as take as many as you possibly can. By the laws of averages, one of them is sure to look amazing.
Use world-class retouches that can do amazing things with the images. Take out all the blemishes, reshape the model's body, replace the skies with something else and really drive up the production value. Get someone who really knows what they're doing, go to town your images and make them really a step ahead.
The first shoot might not work, or the second. Keep going. Get really, really comfortable with shooting with all this gear and equipment and I guarantee you that the images that you will produce will look as good as anything else out there
Professional photographers might be able to tell that you're just compensating for your lack of talent with incredible models and lighting and props and wardrobe and locations and crew, but the average person probably won’t. The person that's looking at this on Instagram or in a magazine will just see all the factors that went into the photograph and be totally impressed.
In all seriousness, if you want to set your photography apart from other photos out there, you just need to do what other people are doing, which means finding your own voice, finding your own style and creating something that means something to you. Then doing it enough that you get good at it.