New Jersey wedding photographer Vanessa Joy recently interviewed Beverly Hills and Melbourne, Australia, photographer Jerry Ghionis about what it takes to become a better photographer. It’s not easy with so much education out there and so little time to absorb it in between shoots and managing a business. Everything you need to know about exposure, gear, off-camera lighting and much more is covered below.
A longtime Zenfolio user, Jerry is coming to a city near you in his first-ever solo tour of 33 North American cities. And here’s a nice perk: you get $10 off registration at www.HowtoWowTour.com with the code HTWZEN.
What got you into photography?
I was given my first camera by my brother when I was only 15 years old and loved photography immediately. I’ve now been shooting as a professional photographer for more than 17 years and starting specializing in weddings almost straight away. When I began, I approached a very prominent studio at the time and assisted them for a year and a half with no pay, carrying bags until they finally hired me full time as a professional photographer. I’ve been photographing weddings, portraits and fashion professionally ever since.
What’s one thing you wish you could change about yourself?
I’d wish for a faster metabolism and to be less hairy.
What’s the number one thing, in your opinion, that seasoned photographers always need to keep learning and working on?
I strongly believe that education is vitally important to any photographer. For some, that may mean a dedicated photography course. But whether it is a school, seminars or workshops, the key is to educate yourself. Seminars and workshops can literally change your life. After all, knowledge is power.
Constantly marketing yourself and also adapting your style and your brand to the changing market around you is another key thing. It is a tough industry to be in at the moment, where there are so many great photographers available at an affordable price. Certainly some photographic styles are similar, but what ultimately separates you from your competition is you: your customer service, consistency in your images, presentation and approach.
How can photographers keep from getting stagnant in their shooting style while still maintaining a consistent brand image?
There have been a few times in my career where I felt my work was getting stale, although my clients have always been happy. I use competitions like WPPI’s annual 16×20 print competition as a vehicle to reinvent myself year after year. It forces you to think differently on every shoot you do. Also, simply going on vacation and developing personal shoots for yourself can do wonders for your creativity. In 2015, I have given myself several months in my schedule to develop my personal work for the first time in years.
Who is your inspiration in life?
Having been married for more than three-and-a-half years now, and being the happiest that I have ever been, I focus on making my wife and life happy—and she does the same for me. We are each other’s constant inspiration.
How can photographers avoid burnout?
Just as you would book yourself on a wedding day and religiously get there on time and be committed to doing an amazing job, you should be just as committed to knowing when to shut off. Melissa and I have an agreement that at 6 p.m. each evening, we’ll turn off our computers and become a husband and wife and forget about business for the rest of the evening. On weekends, if we don’t have a wedding booked, we enjoy the weekend off. Make that time sacred, the way it would be if a client booked you for that day.
What’s the best way to learn off-camera light?
First, you need to be taught the principles behind off-camera light (or any kind of lighting for that matter). Once you have learned the fundamentals, then it all comes down to repetition, practice and gaining experience.
Why does Nikon win in comparison to Canon?
I believe Nikon shines above the rest mainly due to their constant innovation with their faster focusing system, more accurate focus points, and incredible quality at high ISOs, among many other things.
If you’re a new photographer, what is the best way to understand exposure?
Understanding your camera by reading the manual fully will certainly be a good start. I’d suggest photographing a series of test shots on aperture priority, making sure to photograph scenes with different tones in them. Then diagnose why the camera overexposed or underexposed that image based on the camera’s metering mode. Then, learn how to compensate for that while photographing in manual. Again, repetition, experience and practice will always be your best teacher.
Widely regarded as one of the top five best wedding photographers in the world and WPPI’s most awarded photographer, Jerry Ghionis is based in Beverly Hills and Melbourne, Australia, where he travels frequently on international photography sessions and speaking engagements. Jerry uses Zenfolio to host his photos, and is currently on his first-ever North American solo tour, How to Wow, which is scheduled in 33 cities. For more information, visit https://howtowow.mzed.com.