Ask Mike: How do I take even better photos?
Written by Shiloh Scott
Prepare to laugh.
In this week’s episode of Ask Mike, host Mike Taylor, CJE, brings in photography expert Mark Murray. These two have been friends for a long time, and they’re not afraid to rib each other and crack jokes at their own expense.
While listening, you’ll definitely crack a smile. More importantly, you’ll learn about photography.
Murray has known he wanted to be a photography teacher since he was eight years old. He made his dream come true, and he’s great at it. Listen in to hear Murray share the excellent advice he’s learned along the way – from sports, to classroom and beyond. Stick around until the end to hear Murray’s attempt at reciting “Jabberwocky.”
“Good photography is good photography, however it’s being used,” said Murray.
He shared photography pet peeves, like too many non-candid or posed photos, and how to avoid them. One of the best ways to get great candids is to get the school used to seeing a camera – by carrying it all the time.
Murray shares how to inject variety into photos and yearbook spreads. Photos should be taken from different angles. At sports games, that means both sides of the court or field. Every shoot should have birds-eye photos and worms-eye photos. Most people see everything from eye level, so show them something new.
Sometimes the way you photograph is as important as the photos you get. Murray shares the proper ways to photograph sports teams, and why it’s a bad thing when a photographer tackles the other team’s mascot.
Proper equipment can help photographers avoid a lot of awkward situations. Murray shares his advice for buying the proper camera body, lens and flash.
“A good lens, if you take care of it, will last you for years,” said Murray.
Gymnasium pictures can be especially different. Murray explained that different lenses are required for a volleyball game than a football game. He shared the equipment that will work best for the situation, and some good advice he’s received, “Every time you walk through a door, check your settings.”
Don’t turn it off
“A good photojournalist is always thinking about taking good photos,” said Murray.
Even if you’re not taking photos, get in the habit of thinking how you would compose the photo. Even if you don’t have a DSLR with you, many modern phones can be used to take yearbook-worthy photos if used correctly. The best camera is the one you have with you.
“A photographer should be the first one to arrive, the last one to leave, and be taking photos the entire time,” said Murray. “Because that’ how you tell the complete story.”
Taking hundreds – or thousands – of photos is how you get the handful of great images that are worth publishing.
Murray believes the photographer should be the person to write photo captions because they were there when it happened. The most important part is getting the correct information. A photographer who struggles with writing can ask a strong writer for help later.
For the first time, Ask Mike includes a question segment! Taylor collected photography questions from yearbook students, and he and Murray answer them together.
If you have a burning yearbook question you need answered, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Taylor is also starting an Ask Mike challenge: photograph a story in a way that’s never been done by your yearbook before. Share your photos and tag Taylor on Twitter, @yrbkmiketaylor and #AskMike.
More Mike and Mark
If you’re heading to the JEA/NSPA Convention in Chicago, you’re in luck! Both Taylor and Murray will be present. Be sure to catch one of their sessions!
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