Snap Chat: Photography Advice

We talk to two of our favourite photographers about technology, the importance of being nice, and moving from someone who takes photographs to being a photographer

Feature by Peter Simpson and Sarah Donley | 14 Sep 2018

Mihaela Bodlovic and Kat Gollock are, as you lot might say, 'bae'. The two photographers have teamed up with your pals at The Skinny on countless projects over the years, as well as working alongside some of the country's most exciting and important arts festivals, group and venues. So when we wanted to find out about what it takes to get a budding photography career off the ground, we thought we'd give them a shout. And they shouted back.

The Skinny: What equipment do I probably already have access to that I haven't really thought about?

Mihaela Bodlovic: Well, your phone, for one. There is so much you can learn about composition and basics of photography simply by activating the ‘pro’ mode on your new-ish smartphone. TIME magazine covers have been shot on iPhone, so there’s really no excuse!

Kat Gollock: If you have access to an equipment store on your campus I definitely recommend using it as much as you can. You might be restricted to a particular brand of camera but get to know the lenses and what they do, get to grips with flash and portable lighting and if there's a studio get in about it as much as you can so you can start to feel comfortable.

What are the key mistakes that people make in their photography (especially when they're starting out)?

MB: Buying the fanciest gear and expecting it’ll take good images immediately. A camera does not make a photographer (but it helps). Buy a shitty camera. Buy it second-hand. You’ll make lots of mistakes but it’s OK, that’s the learning curve. Push yourself out of the full ‘auto’ mode, play with the settings, and shoot shoot shoot until you’re raging at the limits of your equipment.

KG: 1) Not asking enough questions. Photography can be intimidating with all the equipment and technical knowledge that you need. And people endlessly seem to want to talk about equipment and try and outdo each other. Don't get bogged down or intimidated by that. 2) They stop taking photos for themselves. Always, always find time to shoot things you want to photograph and keep doing personal projects however frivolous they may seem.

What cheap/free resources are there to help me get better in my snapping, and make my photos look as nice as possible?

MB: There are amazing tutorial websites like Phlearn, SLR Lounge, Fstoppers and just plain old YouTube. Connect with other photographers in Facebook groups, there is so much support! There are workshops available in the city, from the Edinburgh University Photography Society to various Introduction to Photography courses offered by the University’s Short Courses department. I do firmly believe you can teach yourself, though!

KG: For shooting, I would recommend as it's easy to follow and gives really comprehensive advice on how to create lighting effects and often how to do it cheaply. I would also recommend reading about photography in general so you can build up an understanding of the craft as a whole. I'm signed up to blogs like American Suburb X, Firecracker and Photomonitor which all goes beyond just the aesthetic of the image and delves a bit deeper into the art and the politics of it all.

What is the one piece of advice you'd give to someone who's looking to get into a career in photography?

MB: Don’t be a dick. Seriously. You don’t have to be the best but you do have to be decent to work with, and if your area of interest is anywhere near people, you have to be good with people before you’re good with cameras. And never feel apprehensive about reaching out to people to make your own opportunities – literally, the worst thing that can happen is they say no.

KG: Trust your own eyes. Photography is the vernacular nowadays and everyone in the world is taking 1000s of images every day. What they see is not the same as what you see. The only way you can be truly satisfied and confident in your own photos is not to compete with that and trust your own view of the world and how you choose to show it through your photos.