Tyler’s Tips Episode 8: Be Opportunistic!


Welcome to Tyler’s Tips. Today I’m going to be talking about why it’s so important to be opportunistic.

Those of you who have watched a few of my videos know that I’m usually talking about how important it is to slow down and be very thoughtful about how you approach photography, to create better photos. Today I’m going to say, “Keep doing that, but don’t lose sight of cool, random stuff that might be happening around you.”

I’m going to show you two examples of times when I was able to do this, and it worked out well. It doesn’t always work out well. But it’s always worth trying because sometimes you can create something very cool, even though it’s totally unexpected and unplanned. So, this first shot is during this architectural interior shoot, I was, this cat was stalking me throughout the entire shoot. And every time I would turn to look at him, he would get up and run away. I was shooting the living room, and I felt this presence behind me. I could feel like the hairs rise up on my neck. I knew that cat was there, but I didn’t even want to turn and look, because I figured he’d probably just run away again.

So, I took the camera off the tripod, I adjusted my settings, got the focus about where I thought it needed to be, and I turned around and I snapped that shot really quickly. I took two frames, the second frame he was already standing up and walking away. And so I had seen that before, I was on an architectural shoot so I had a good sense of like what that staircase looked like, and how I wanted to compose it. There we have it. This image is super popular. People love this image. I think it might have something to with the fact that cats ad the internet, there’s some kind of weird magic there, I don’t know. But anyways, it worked.

So there’s another image that I want to show you in a second where I was doing, it was another interior architectural shoot, and in this case it was at a bar in San Francisco. I was hired by the contractor who had supplied all the interior materials to build out this really cool bar. While I was there, the bartender was setting up for his shift. He was just this really interesting guy, visually interesting, and also just a really interesting guy to talk to. So we chatted for a few minutes, and I asked him if he would be willing to do a photo, so we did a photo. It was really quick, I just used available light and we were able to produce this image.

It wasn’t a part of the scope of the shoot at all. My client didn’t particularly care about it. It wasn’t a part of what he, the story he wanted to tell, but this photo was actually published in a national magazine, and it won an award. It’s in my portfolio, ’cause I love it. I think this is so, a fun image. Had I not taken that moment, and been able to see it, first of all, see the opportunity, but then also made the choice to, “All right. You know what? We’re going to stop this shoot for like ten or 15 minutes, so that I can grab something that might be really cool with this bartender that has nothing to do with our shoot.”

Being able to do that, and you can’t do that on all commercial shoots, by the way. That was just me working alone, so it wasn’t like we had a crew. If I’d had a crew, probably wouldn’t have been able to do that. But, it’s always worth trying to see these opportunities and take advantage of them, if you can. So when you’re out there next time shooting, try to be really open minded, and be aware of what’s going on around you, just in case something even cooler than what you were planning to shoot presents itself.

So I hope that was useful. If you have other ideas, or things that you’d like to hear me talk about, please leave a comment below, or shoot me a quick email and I’ll try to work it into a future episode. Thank you for your time. And I look forward to the next one.