From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners – inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By YaansoonThe limitations of compact cameras can really put a damper on your plans for expanding and improving your work & online presence. That is why I decided to explore improving my photography with a DSLR camera. In this post, I would like to share with you a few lighting tips for beginners – inspired by one of Britain’s top photographers, David Loftus.

Before switching to a Digital SLR camera, I spent years using a point-and-shoot camera to take photos for my blog and of my products. As a beginner DSLR photographer, I have learnt a few interesting lessons while unraveling the secrets of DSLR photography. I did a lot of research and a lot of experimentation before reaching the point of taking somewhat decent looking photos.

In my previous post, “From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: What I Learnt From Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus,” I launched the first article in my From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR series.

I started out by sharing an important lesson as a newbie: Not everyone out there is cut out to be a mentor. In fact, it takes a special person to inspire you to take your photography skills (or any skills at all) to the next level! I say this because after following the tips of a few professional photographers on YouTube, I ended up feeling more frustrated than ever.

“David Loftus is a food photographer who has shot for celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart, and Heston Blumental. So far he has photographed five of Jamie Oliver’s recipe books” Best of British: 22 of the most famous photographers from Great Britain

Jamie Oliver Presents David Loftus | FoodTube | Via Yaansoon

Jamie Oliver Presents David Loftus | FoodTube | Via YaansoonOrganic Photographery: Lessons learnt from Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus

The minute I discovered David Loftus, a British photographer who has worked for around 15 years with celebrity cook Jamie Oliver, everything changed for me.

Watch this video: Jamie Oliver Presents David Loftus

I began to approach photography with more ease and enthusiasm, because Loftus simplified it for me. He made me see that if I’m not having fun with it, then what’s the point!

His organic approach to photography, coupled with his simple and easy-going way of explaining what is needed for a photoshoot, are the reason why my photography abilities have improved almost overnight.

“Loftus’s natural approach to shooting food has led a revolution in food photography with the new emphasis being on honesty and ingredients over perfection and unreality” Source

The photos I took in this post are not perfect, but they are a whole lot better than the photos I have produced after listening to other YouTube photographers – whose advice was more or less about buying all sorts of lighting equipment, and not necessarily about the actual practice and philosophy of photography.

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By YaansoonTip No. 1: Start with the end in mind: What kind of photo are you after?

I have been compiling photography styling pins in one of my Pinterest boards (Design | Styling). This pinboard has helped me identify the style I was going for and that really resonated with me as an artist. There are so many photography styles out there: Photos that look overly saturated, that have a blank white background, or that have a strong yellowish tint to them. What I personally like is a photo that breathes organic ease, if that makes sense… like the photos below by David Loftus.

Learn more about organic photography, from these videos:

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By Yaansoon
Photography by David Loftus
From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By Yaansoon
David Loftus photography
From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By Yaansoon
David Loftus photography
From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By Yaansoon
David Loftus photography

After comparing David Loftus’ photography with others in his field, I realized this is the kind of end result I wanted to achieve. This is the kind of photo I liked to look at.

The end result is the very thing that can help inform our decisions as beginner photographers. I didn’t think of the end result at first because I was consumed with trying to make all sorts of lighting equipment and angles work for me. At first, the end result I got was horrific artificial-looking photos that did not match the look and feel I was going for. See photo below:

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By YaansoonTo be honest, investing in the lighting gear I purchased was kind of a big mistake. I realized that I did not need them, because natural lighting was exactly what I needed to produce better photos!

Tip No. 2: Learn the Difference Between Natural v.s Artificial Lighting

Think about it this way… I had a certain look in mind; to achieve that look I needed to take a certain path that led to it. And in this case “Natural Light” was the path I needed to take to produce photos that looked organic, beautiful, and natural. I didn’t want to take product photos for a high-end catalog; I wanted to take photos of everyday things, in addition to my products and my art, in a way that reflected the organic nature of Yaansoon. See natural lighting results below:

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By Yaansoon

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: Lighting Tips for Beginners - inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus | By YaansoonI do hope this post helped shed some light (no pun intended) on the lighting aspect of beginner photography. Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing you all in my next post!


Image Credits: David Loftus phots are from his webiste, and can be found here, here, here, and here.


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From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: What I Learnt From Jamie Oliver’s Photographer, David Loftus

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR: What I Learnt From Jamie Oliver's Photographer, David Loftus | By YaansoonI’m deeply moved by the humility and the raw, organic talent of one of the world’s top photographers, David Loftus. I have been surfing the internet for good tips on photography for beginner DSLR photographers, often stumbling across rigid and insanely suffocating tips that made you want to stop taking photos all together… until I found a series of quick camera tips by photographer David Loftus on YouTube.

Organic, natural, and indie, David Loftus is a true inspiration for those who gauge the nature of authenticity, and who approach photography, as a form of art and creativity, with genuine open-mindedness and a true passion for what they do. Before I sing Loftus more praises, let me start this post by explaining why I am totally smitten by this genius photographer’s approach to picture story-telling and photography.

From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR | What I Learnt as a Beginner Camera Enthusiast From Jamie Oliver's Photographer David Loftus | By YaansoonFrom Point-and-Shoot to DSLR

For the past month or so, I have been watching video after video on YouTube and elsewhere in hopes of compiling an understanding of what makes a good photograph. Up until now I have been using a point-and-shoot camera for my blog and I want to start using a DSLR camera to shoot both still blog photos, as well as YouTube videos for my new channel.

Although I’m not a food blogger, I feel the world of culinary photography is the closest thing out there to photographing the herbs and natural ingredients that go into my Natural Beauty remedies. At the moment I am using infgraphics to illustrate my posts – while working my way towards learning new photography skills as a blogger. To be honest, my experience with point-and-shoot cameras has been a source of frustration as of lately for their inability to produce the results I am hoping for.

For weeks, I watched countless videos with tips for beginners about lighting, composition, lenses, camera types, ISO, shutter speed, and other aspects of food photography. The videos varied in their level of content and originality, often leaning towards complicating things for me!

But all of this changed when I discovered David Loftus. Although his “David Loftus Photography Masterclass” series on Youtube is short and (very) sweet, there is something about his approach to photography that frees your mind and inspires you to find your own voice, even as a beginner DSLR photographer!

Photographer David Loftus - Website - Via YaansoonThe Organic Photography of David Loftus

I realized, while I was searching for good tutorials on beginner photography, that not everyone out there is an inspiration.

In fact, there are videos that are so rigid and narrow-minded in their approach to photography, art, design and creativity, that I ended up feeling suffocated and totally uninspired.

I didn’t realize just how annoyed and demoralized I was about all that talk re “The Golden Ratio,” and “The Rule of Thirds,” until I found this video by David Loftus about composition.

In this video, David Loftus uses his smart phone to explain his approach to picture taking. Although the clip is relatively short, I think it encapsulates the very soul of Loftus’ organic approach to photography:

“So, as far as composition is concerned… shoot it a bit differently, shoot it off-center, shoot it side-ways, there’s no rules or regulations. When we were taught at collage, they always said you had to be [taking photos] in thirds; so you’d be a third off, or a third down, but…” (And then he waves his hand to basically imply: Never mind the ‘Rule of Thirds’).

David Loftus adds,

“You know, who wants to be the same as everyone else???”

Jamie Oliver's Photographer David Loftus on the Rule of Thirds in Photography- Gif - Via YaansoonHow I Approach Rules as an Entry-Level Photographer

I have always had a strong reaction to rigid rules. I like things that grow organically. Art that looks organic. Cafes that have an organic feel to them. Organic music, writing, and forms of expression.

I believe, in my heart of hearts, that life is an ever-changing, ever-evolving existence whose intensity and beauty cannot be limited by boundaries or a handful of static rules.

I do, at the same time, understand that it is “inspiring” to learn “about” the rules, and to get a bit of a historic background about how they worked, and how they were applied within different contexts. This understanding can help us cross over to the next level, but it should in no way limit our evolution or expression as creative people. That’s my belief.

What I do not understand, and what really makes me feel like suffocating, is when people treat rules as absolutes. And when some try to push you to conform to their definition of what works and what doesn’t, even if it was at the expense of truncating your own voice. I honestly cannot tolerate the schools of thought, or the people, who tell you to substitute your talent and your unique outlook on the world with rigid rules that end up destroying your raw talent.

Talent is a gift from up above, it is a force beyond our own understanding. Although we are “entrusted” with harnessing and honing it, we are also entrusted with letting it go where it needs to go. We need to allow our inner “auto-pilot” to journey through life towards the destination our talent was created for. Taking us to our destiny.

Raw talent, in my opinion, is much more powerful than doing things with a closed mind and a closed heart. Judging ones self and others by some rules that are, in all honesty, only theories that have proven success in certain contexts and circumstances, is a huge mistake.

After all, if rules were static, then we wouldn’t have such amazing experiences like Jazz, Hip-hop, graffiti, and cubism in our lives.

Jamie Oliver's Photographer David Loftus on the Rule of Thirds in Photography- Gif - Via YaansoonMore Lessons from David Loftus

A true master of his craft, Loftus has been working with Jamie Oliver for over 15 years; he conducted photoshoots for Oliver’s books and has often traveled with him.  If you check out Oliver’s FoodTube, and Loftus’ own channel (Loftus Lens), you will find a series of very short and sweet photography tips that give us a glimpse into the character of this wonderful photographer and artist. His humility, love for natural art and organic beauty are apparent, and if I were to choose a photography mentor, I would choose him.

Here is a link to an inspiring piece I found in Jamie Magazine, dubbed, Interview with David Loftus. I love how in response to the question, “What’s your favourite type of food to photograph and why?” he says:

“Fresh fruit and veg, straight from the garden and untampered with. My least favourite is Michelin-starred food, as it’s too fiddled with. Often it’s cold by the time it reaches me. On the other hand, a lot of passion goes into Jamie’s food and we shoot within minutes of cooking there’s no fussing with it.”

Visit David Loftus website here. The 1st and 3d images in this post are screenshots from his website. “From Point-and-Shoot to DSLR” infographic by Yaansoon. The 4th image is a GIF from multiple screenshots of this video, and the last image is a screenshot of the same video.