Varsha, My Photography Journal

Backtracking my photography learning process through a model

I decided to seriously learn photography back in December 2011. I purchased my first digital camera, which was Sony NEX-3, and started to read some photography books. Until today, I have participated in three professional photo shoots and five photo exhibitions. One of the most remarkable person during my learning period of this art is Varsha.

Varsha was my first “unofficial” model. I practiced a lot of basic theory and concept of capturing image with her as the main subject. Sometimes I asked her to pose, but most of the times I took her pictures in candid. Indeed, the photos of Varsha show the progress of my photography learning skill, from a real newbie until now. In this article, I would like to share some of my photographs of Varsha. Please kindly share your comments and feedback about my work.

A story about Varsha

Varsha is a student who studied Bachelor of Arts in Telugu (one of national languages of India) in Hyderabad between 2009 to 2012. She pursued her degree under the scholarship of Indian government in Koti Women’s College Hyderabad. I met her for the first time in 2011 through one of my classmate who also originates from Mauritius.

Varsha is physically very attractive and perfect to be a model for my photos. She is also very friendly, thus it makes me more comfortable in taking her pictures. The first time I took her photo was during a trip to Medak, a remote district about three hours driving from Hyderabad. At that moment, I felt that her face was very camera friendly. Therefore, I decided to take her photos regularly as a part of my learning process.

Varsha originates from Mauritius, a very beautiful island, a paradise on earth. Mauritius is located on the south east of the main continent of Africa. This country is full of amazing beaches, beautiful jungles, and wonderful people. Most people in Mauritius have Indian blood, and they speak French as the first language. I worked with Varsha in two different photo shoot, both of them when my skill was at very newbie level.

Photoshoots with Varsha

I spent a lot of time with my Mauritian friends because they are very good people and student. They invited me a lot to have some lunch, and we went out together to watch movies, concerts, and other interesting spots in Hyderabad. The first time I seriously took photos of Varsha was in November 2011, when I and three of my Mauritian friends (including Varsha) watched Zeb and Haniya concert in Ravindra Bharati, Hyderabad. At that moment, I successfully captured some very great candid photos of her.

After being able to take a bunch of great photos, I successfully convinced her to be a model for my photo shoot titled “The Night Song”. It was my very first photo shoot that I did only two weeks after I purchased my first DSLR camera. She performed surprisingly above my expectation. Her photos that I took during “The Night Song” were really great, and some of them were even selected for my international exhibition in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Another moment when I successfully captured great images of her was during Ugadi, one of the traditional festival for South Indian community. She dressed in saree very nicely, and we went to the temple and visited a lot of friends and relatives who celebrated Ugadi. During our trip, I took a lot of beautiful candid photos of her.

About two months after Ugadi, we worked for our second photo shoot titled “The Mystique of Love”. It was done for my photography assignment in my course and located in landscape garden, Osmania University. The photo shoot was rather challenging for me, compared to the first one due to the technical aspects and my lack of experience as a photographer. But from this work, I really learned a lot of useful things in photography.

Varsha finished her course in summer 2012 and went to her country immediately. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to say my last goodbye and to take more photos of her because I was abroad.

Some tips to improve your photography skill

Try to take photos every day
More photos you take, the better your skill in photography. If you really want to be a good photographer, try to allocate at least half an hour per day for hunting pictures. By taking a lot of good photos, your technical skills, experience, and sensitivity as a photographer would improve. One more thing, try to think this habit as something fun, not as a boring responsibility.

Spend some time to review and select your best photos
Among of those photos you take regularly, you have to carefully select which photo to keep and which to delete. Be selective, and don’t hesitate to delete not so good photos. If you want to publish them in social media or online album, then you have to be more selective. Only publish your best photos, or the one that has special meanings for you.

Use a prime lens
Instead of zoom lenses, it is better to start learning photography by using prime lenses. Prime lenses will make you use your legs more in order to make the subject closer or farther from your camera frame. They don’t have zoom feature so you are forced to move a lot when taking images. By using prime lenses, you will learn how to depend more on your body and eyes rather than the zoom.

Learn to use manual focus
Manual focus is the best way to get the perfect focus. Although in modern days some autofocus of an expensive camera also performs well, but nothing can beat the accuracy of manual focus. Thus, learn to take photos with widest aperture as possible (to enable you detecting the focus point more easily), choose a single subject, then try to get the best focus of a specific part of the subject.

Focus on the eyes of the subject
After learning the principle of focusing, it is advisable for a beginner to practice with a living subject such as human and animal. At your very first few weeks of learning, try to take a close-up photos of the face. When taking photos of living things, the most important thing is to make sure that your camera focus is on the eyes of the subject. When you do it right, your photo will look better.

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