In January I purchased what I like to call my “serious” camera. It’s a Canon EOS Rebel T6, and I purchased it largely with my future in mind.
I’m graduating in May with a degree in Journalism. To put things simply: A future in journalism (and media in general) now almost requires a writer to be able to do more than just write. One of those things could be, and likely will be, your ability to take decent photos.
I’ve always loved being behind the camera. The editing process is my favorite (primarily with video), but I have never considered myself “good.” I’ve never taken photography seriously. I have never called myself a photographer because I think every decent photo I’ve taken up until this point in my life was pure luck and on complete accident.
I’ve decided to change that this year in order to help out with potential career opportunities and for my personal use (this blog, my two Instagram accounts, etc.) I want to take photography seriously, so I’ve decided to blog the experience of teaching myself how to take a decent photo (on purpose).
This means over the next few months and probably for the rest of our lives, I will be forcing my best friends to be my models. Last week, the adventure began with my friend Haley.
I recently saw some photos of Erin Gilfoy sitting in what looks like the backseat of a car, surrounded by balloons. I thought the idea was super fun, so after Haley told me she needed some Instagram content, I suggested this idea with pink balloons so I could finally play around with my camera. It was an experience.
We started out with two 12-count packs of pink balloons from Wal-Mart (I couldn’t argue with the 97 cent price). We parked in one of our favorite parking lots (don’t ask) and blew up 23 balloons, but popped one to have an even number of 22 because the 24th balloon had a hole in it. I realized I forgot to bring masking tape, so we went to Target and bought some, as well as another pack of balloons (15 this time) that were a different shade of pink to mix in with the lighter shade.
I filmed us blowing up the balloons on my phone because I thought it was funny. I didn’t think I was going to do anything with the footage (I film a lot of stuff that never goes online), until I decided to blog. I thought it’d be fun to insert it into this post.
Once we blew up all the balloons, I took a few test shots. This is what the backseat of Haley’s car looked like through the passenger side back window:
Then it was time to get serious. Haley pushed a lot of the balloons into the very back of the car behind the backseat, and we started discussing where to tape down some balloons to fill gaps we didn’t like.
Taking photos with balloons is… Difficult. For one thing, they move super easily, obviously. So any slight movement made could ruin their placement and thus, the shot.
Another thing: static. After about the first 10 minutes of taking photos, all those balloons created so much static that we were constantly having to move balloons (they would move on their own towards Haley) and fix Haley’s hair. Static was something we didn’t at all think about initially, and this is something we want to do again in the future, so we’ll have to figure out how to remedy that problem.
Another issue I faced was lighting, which I know for a fact is something every photographer struggles with. Doing a photo shoot at night probably wasn’t the smartest idea for a first go, but it’s something I know I’ll have to face in the future so I just shrugged it off and went in headfirst.
Pretty much all the settings on my camera I left on auto for the first hour or so, meaning flash went off for every photo. I got a lot of cool shots with auto, but sometimes the flash was a bit much and blinded Haley. My bad, girl.
For a while we messed around with no flash. All we had were the lights in the car and my phone flashlight, which if you put under a balloon, looks super sick. I also don’t mind what the static did to Haley’s hair in this photo, it’s kind of cool. The only thing I wish that could have been done different is if we had another light source from the left.
Overall, I took nearly 300 photos. There were a lot of outtakes and photos Haley said I couldn’t post or she would never speak to me again, and in the end I narrowed it down to about 15 or so that I liked. But as not to overload this post, here are my top 3 favorites.
This first photo was actually one of the very first photos I took that night when Haley was taping down balloons. I like that its very candid, and definitely something you would have scrolled past on Tumblr during its prime.
This next photo I like because it’s as simple as it can get. It’s a portrait style with the two different shades of balloons in the background.
This last one might be a contender for my absolute favorite. I like that it looks full. The balloon hanging from the ceiling takes the brunt of the light from the glowing balloon (flashlight method), so it’s not as harsh on Haley’s face. It’s darker than the other photos and looks professionally natural. I think it’s super cool.
I’m not sure when my next adventure in photography will be, but I really enjoyed this process of looking back on the process. So much so that I know I’ll definitely blog the next time I do something like this. Hope to see you then.