Guest Post: How does one know if they are a professional or amateur photographer

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The Genuine Gemstone Company is the home of a number of jewelry brands, who trade a lot of products through live TV auctions on its channels Gems TV, Rocks TV and JewelleryMaker. The Genuine Gemstone Company is the 2012 winner of the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.

Reliance on dedication and hard work from our in-house photography provides an all-in-one service to shoot highly finished, high quality photos. Here are a couple of examples from our photographer Melissa. Check out her technical setup break-down of the two photos below to discover how they were conceptualised and captured by our professional leading photographer.

Floral ring

Macro lens for jewellery, shallow depth of field.

Daylight, use a reflector in some cases to create an even amount of light on the subject/jewellery item.

I don’t usually use a tripod unless I am doing a detailed jewellery shot…in which case you would need the camera to be as still as possible to avoid any blur or loss of detail.

Before a shoot we look into inspiration, style, branding, what we would like to create. I would not start a shoot if I did not have any ideas or knowledge in what I’d like to achieve.

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Bridal Photo

Standard lens for a model, 18-55mm lens.

Daylight and a reflector. Usually in a studio model shoot we would use the pro-photo lighting, a soft box as well as a reflector but in this case it was a sunny day and the light was very flattering on the model. The reflector gives more of a flattened even tone to her skin (This is also photo shopped afterwards)

Model shots I usually have the camera strap around my neck so I have more freedom to try different angles and shoot a little more impulsively. I don’t use a tripod.

Before a shoot we look into inspiration, style, branding, what we would like to create. I would not start a shoot if I did not have any ideas or knowledge in what I’d like to achieve.

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 11.09.45 AMDifference between professional and amateur photography

Every shoot is different and there is no better way for the customer to get an impression of how gemstone jewellery, silver rings and diamond earrings are worn then to create a lifestyle image. Our love for professional photography has rewarded ourselves as a company to accomplish our ambitions year after year and has elevated our brand as we grow each year.

We know the difference between professional and amateur photography, our CEO Steve Bennett often takes trips to remote destinations around the world, including Kenya, India, Brazil and Madagascar. On his travels he always takes his camera. In spite of owning an SLR camera, not too far separated from those used in our studio, the quality of the photos are good but not what you would call professional, magazine shoot photos.

As you can see the image above is well balanced, the colour is good and for a press image this is very good.
We have even used this image on our TGGC website under the charities section: we think it is of that much value to our company we have made it part of our corporate portfolio design.

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The image on above (of the children) however is not professional, over exposure and a high amount of sepia in the image makes this picture look quite orange, if not aged.

These photos were taken following our CEO, Steve on his recent trip to Zambia to support locals through our charity “The Colourful Life Foundation”.

Daylight and weather can make a lot of difference to photograph. Any of our marketing team would be able to spot the differences between the two images without a problem.

Unfortunately there are only so many people we could afford to take away to Africa. These photos are still essential to our company, held as record of our journey into Africa, and shares with the world the hardship and struggle, as well as overwhelming uplifting fulfilment experienced.

The Zambian communities affected by diseases such as HIV are supported by our charity “The Colourful Life Foundation” every day, assisting in financial aid for proper facilities to cook, collect fresh water and educate children with proper schooling.

Tips for making better outdoor shots

1. Go local.

When you are going travelling around the world, taking pictures of locals can really enhance or capture the soul of the destination. It is important to be courteous when taking photos though, and as we have discovered in Africa, if there is a supply of Electricity nearby, expect them to want them up on their Facebook.

2. Use Your Apertures

A professional portrait uses a small depth of field to blur the background. Many of the Gems TV photos are shot using this style of Aperture. It enables the subject to be brought into the foreground, cutting out distracting clutter. Set your camera on its maximum aperture to get a small depth of field.

3. Frontlighting

To avoid embarrassingly amateur photography, such as our picture in Zambia by Gems TV presenter Scott Worsfold, try creating photos when the sun is to the back of you as you take the photograph. This technique is frequently used by amateurs but it detracts from photos depth and detail. To add depth, angle your body so that the sun is coming from over your shoulder, or is hitting your subject diagonally, not full on.

4. Harness the light

Always look for a great light source and see if you can use it to your advantage. You may find that due to the atmospheric weather, light from sunrises, dusk or shadows created by light hitting a group of trees, buildings or animals, you can change the perspective of your photography. Let something dramatic happen in the light.

5. Play with filters.

Get rich colours and tones through selecting the right filters for the light. Haze filters will give you more contrast. Polarizers add slightly richer blues to the sky, cut out the reflections in water, as well as the glare of the sun.

Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist from America.  His latest book of photography, Suenitos tells the story of the only daycare inside the dangerous Hidden City.  Now based in Argentina, he continues to turn his lens on social justice issues around the globe.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today. Follow this link to read more of his work on Huffington Post and Examiner.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.

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