Freelance fashion photographer Dave Wheeler has gone from strength to strength since setting out on a solo career, with 2015 in particular, seeing his craft reach new heights.
As part of our series with AustralianSuper, helping you kick start your creative career, Dave runs us through his five favourite shoots of the past year, and how he uses each session to continue to learn and improve.
My career has been relatively short by comparison to some photographers. I have been shooting full time for about 5 years now, and hopefully some of the things I have learnt along the way can help you kick start your career in photography. Here’s some highlights from my career and a few things that helped me get each shot, which can hopefully help you out on your next shoot and continue to grow as a photographer and pave the way for career success!
Vogue polo story
This was one of my favourite shoots, and one of the biggest highlights in my career so far. We shot on the island of Sumba in Indonesia. Thanks to a volcano eruption, we only had two days to shoot instead of the five we had planned, so time was short. To pull this all off we planned every shot.
The day before the shoot we mapped out every location and worked with where the sun would be for each shot. The light is amazing at sunrise and sunset (especially in Sumba) and I knew I wanted the shoot to reflect that.
This shoot reminded me of the importance of planning, especially when shooting in a foreign or unknown new location. If we hadn’t closely looked at the sun patterns in Indonesia beforehand, the volcano cloud could have cause more than just a minor headache.
Black and white beach shot
Shot for an online fashion and beauty website, we had a freezing cold day for the shoot, yet the model was an absolute pro and kept composed despite having to lay on the freezing cold sand. We didn’t get the sun we needed so we changed the mood of the shoot to match the light we had and it ended up even better than we planned.
It’s this ability to adapt when things don’t turn out as planned (light-wise or other) that made this shoot work. Don’t be afraid to change the mood of a shoot when things go awry, if you stick to your guts you’ll pull out a great shoot, no matter what.
Belle studio shot
This shot was part of a studio story for Belle Magazine. As much as I love shooting fashion, I studied Industrial design for years so I’ve always had a soft spot for interiors and beautiful furniture design.
This was our last shot on a two-day shoot, and we only had an outline of what to do. The stylist and I brainstormed the finer details and started playing with light and composition, figuring it out as we went along by trial and error until we got closer and closer to the perfect shot. I think the trick to this shot was working with everyone’s ideas to bring it all together as a team. Always use absolutely every person around you on a shoot, you never know whose idea will get the team over the line.
This was a portrait as part of a feature on a hotel in Sydney that recently opened. We shot two options for the portraits but I’d spotted a great angle at the last minute. I asked the chef if he had two more minutes to try one last shot and we quickly snapped this option.
Make sure you try a few options when shooting, as it can often be the unexpected that’s the best. If you’re not shooting right up until the end of your allotted time, you might be missing out on a surprise new image.
Black and white beauty shot on beach
This was a test shoot we photographed when I had a spare day. At the time it was quite different to what I was shooting for commissioned jobs so it was great to try something new and different.
Test shoots are the perfect time to experiment with ideas you can’t try on paid jobs so my tip here is to push yourself creatively and always work on finding your style. A free day to yourself is nice every now and then, but don’t miss an opportunity to work on your craft when you have some downtime.
Dave Wheeler is a freelance fashion photographer based in Sydney. You can find out more about him on his website.
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