Light. You need to learn how to use light and its cousin the shadows to create the perfect tone and texture for your subject. Too much light and the image is blown out, too little and you lose detail. There is a reason photographers love the golden hours of early morning or late afternoon for outdoor shoots as the light is soft and the sun casts shadows which create great contrasts.
As a part of my series about “5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos” I had the pleasure of interviewing Taras Semchyshyn.
Taras Semchyshyn is a freelance photographer based in Los Angeles. His focus is on landscapes, lifestyle and portraits. His work has been used on several product campaigns and is now currently repped by Artlita Gallery where his fine art pieces are now available.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
No, thank you for having me and pleasure to share. My love of photography came as a child from sifting through pages of National Geographic, old photos of my immigrant family and probably from my uncle Taras who is an avid photographer. It was only four years ago that on a bit of a whim that I picked up a DSLR and started shooting “seriously” . I was in a rough patch and shooting became meditative and gave me the creative outlet my soul had been craving for some time. Shooting still is meditative as I’m always where I want to be when I do.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I’ve had many great moments and connections and a few crazy ones too. The most impactful happened this past year. I had logged off work, and had been WFH due to the pandemic, walked down into my neighborhood to take a walk and saw a friend at a restaurant having drinks with someone and I joined them. Turns out her friend owns a fine art gallery, named Artlita, and happened to be looking for an LA based photographer. So I shot her my portfolio, she liked my work and signed me on. Since then we’ve had an exhibition, which was a success and now we have great plans for 2021. It’s a crazy moment cause of happenstance, but also the power of being prepared as my portfolio was ready.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Ha, the dumbest mistake photographers can make include leaving the lens cap on or just having one battery and you run out of power. Lesson learned to always have extra batteries and your charger on hand.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My biggest advantage is my sincere love of the subjects I am shooting and bringing their best story to light. I like to joke and laugh and make the person feel comfortable. One of my favorite shoots was a holiday photo shoot for a very good friend of mine who has five sisters and all the kids plus grandma and turns out it was the first time they ever did a full family shoot and they loved it. It really touched me and brought so much joy to them.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t take yourself too seriously and take a break. When you are creative, you will always run into mental blocks as to what to do next. I’ve taken weeks off from shooting and then come back with a vengeance and it is always some small thing that starts the new spark.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
While I have been self-taught, I do want to thank all my friends and family who have supported my work, knowing how it helped me get through that rough patch. Now I have recently sought guidance from more experienced photographers and want to thank JP Cordero and Kim West for all their help.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
As noted, working with Artlita on putting my artwork in the hands of designers and health and wellness centers and we got plans for more popups and live events as hopefully things open up here in 2021 as the Covid vaccines roll through. Also working with a startup called Easy Alfred, which is a vacation rental service connecting local businesses with rental owners and guests and providing content for their platforms.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Yes, more than once or twice have friends commented how they loved seeing my shots on social media and how those images made them feel calm and relaxed.
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
- Light. You need to learn how to use light and its cousin the shadows to create the perfect tone and texture for your subject. Too much light and the image is blown out, too little and you lose detail. There is a reason photographers love the golden hours of early morning or late afternoon for outdoor shoots as the light is soft and the sun casts shadows which create great contrasts.
- Focus on a subject. Make sure, especially landscapes for example, there is a subject of focus. An example is taking a sunset shot , try to fine a landmark, a seagull, a single person on the beach that you focus on that pulls the image together.
- Find symmetry in your subjects. For example, you may take a shot of someone next to an object, find that balance between that person being too close or too far from that object. Find interesting angles or lines that create a unique perspective.
- Be creative and find new perspectives. Shooting a location like a pier or building, walk around and find those nooks and crannies that may not be obvious but breathes new life into that subject.
- Have fun and be patient. Getting great photos is not an overnight skill. Some may have a better eye than others, but anyone can get better with just practice and patience. Remember also that many great photos were a stroke of luck, of being at the right place at the right time and again making sure you are not stuck on one method.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).
Taco, more tacos. Everybody loves tacos, men, women, children, vegans, your grandmother. And you can put any kind of meat or no meat for you vegans. Nothing better then a couple of fish tacos and a cold beer on a beach or taco truck.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!