The “Hidden” Skill for Photography

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Once awhile when you look at some great pictures taken by others, one might can’t help but to feel that you could have taken the same shot, or even better, when you are there at the moment of time. Well, its always easy to say than to do, because at the end of the day, you were not there and you didn’t took the shot while someone else did.

This opens up to the topic I would like to share today. You can have the best skills and techniques in photography, but without this additional “skill”, you will just end up being the one who always look at others’ pictures and say “I could have shot that”. The hidden “skill” that most of us have never really thought about, is the ability to gain access.

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If you want to shoot intimate portraiture of someone, you will need to gain access to them and get permission from them to shoot. If you want to document a series of event, you need to have access to the places you want to enter in order for you to shoot. If you want to shoot concert or sports event, you will also need to be granted access as media or else you won’t be able to bring your camera into the event at all.

I can still recall a talk I attended previously which is given by Kevin Lee, the founder of Invisible Photographer Asia. During his talk he briefly mentioned about the mentorship program that he is running, together with all the “wild” project that people would like to be mentored on. Some were clearly mission impossible, as one simply unable to gain the required access to even start the project.

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When planning for personal project, try look for something within your means and access. If there’re something that you can access while others don’t, then you will have something unique to show. If its something rather common, then your eyes to see differently will come into play. I guess one just need to be realistic enough on his goal and target and get things done one step at a time.

If you are not sure how, perhaps you can join some photography workshop or tour that leads you to unique places. Yes, the leading photographer has gained the access for you, so besides shooting, try to pick up a few skills from them on how they actually get such access. A lot of times, it all started with a casual chat to make everyone feels comfortable. And once the ice broke, you got your access. It’s not going to be easy all the time, and probably you will need to spend time to gain it. But if the subject is worth the wait, just go ahead and try your best.

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I hope that my sharing has helped you in some way in planning your personal project better. Honestly, I’m not great in this either, but I’m trying hard to learn and practice too. Hopefully I can put myself together for some nice personal project soon. Till then.

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