Lots of photographers go into the volume photography business to pay the bills while they build the portrait, boudoir, or other type of business. But one photographer says his background as a volume photographer actually helped him as a fine-art photographer.
In a PetaPixel post, photographer Bryan Wark acknowledges photographers with creative aspirations sometimes look down on volume photography: “ I was… told by a photographer in my hometown of Binghamton ‘If you call yourself a photographer working for a life touch wannabe company then you are a joke.’ ”
Wark goes on to say, however, how volume photography experience actually improved his fine-art work.
“What they don’t know is I gained a hell of a lot more practical knowledge of photography from schools than I ever did taking photography classes,” he writes. “Hands down, it was far more beneficial in improving the skills I needed to be a fine art photographer.”
Wark cited three ways school photography boosted his skills:
Communicating with the subject - “Many photographers go to their first photoshoot and realize their clients have no idea how to stand in front of a camera,” writes Wark. “All of the Pinterest pose suggestions in the world won’t prepare you for how to direct a client into different positions…On average I would have 300 students in front of my camera 5 days a week. That’s a lot of practice. I was able to practice phrasing, hand movements, and gestures while learning to take the shot.”
Communicating with diverse subjects - “Working in school and sports photography really did help reset my brain and made me ‘read the room’ better,” explains Wark. “I worked with people of every social and political background. It was important to be able to make them feel comfortable and not insult them by using outdated and inappropriate terms… And talking to many of my clients today, I have heard horror stories of photographers they worked with who didn’t quite get the memo.”
Learning to utilize space - “I learned how to really utilize space and can travel with an entire studio in my car,” he says. “Many photographers are held back by the idea that they need this gym-sized, permanent studio space and until they have that, they will never be able to capture great portraits. That’s simply not true. I’ve had to do entire setups in places that were no bigger than a walk-in closet. When photographing in a school some really don’t have a lot of space to sacrifice for the day. This experience really showed me how to utilize space in setup, pack down, and how much gear you can truly transport. This translates so well to fine art portraits.”