Say hello to @savad.monk. Our October Influencer Of The Month is based in Dubai, recently worked on our campaign with ASUS and has some pretty extensive photography knowledge. We quizzed him for his best tips and tricks.
What inspired you to start your photography journey?
I’ve always been interested in photography. I downloaded Instagram in 2011 and found many inspiring photographers posting incredible content from around the globe. I learnt about the power of using hashtags to make your posts discoverable and then the engagement started rolling in. Since then, I’ve been hooked on sharing my work.
I’m a sponge when it comes to photography. I’m always searching to learn new things. My curiosity is a big player in how I personally stay motivated. No matter how much I already know about photography, there is always more to learn.
What’s your best tips for shooting the following photography styles?
Your subject is the most important aspect. Making them feel comfortable is essential for a successful shoot. I recommend getting to know each other, informing your subject about your photography style and what you’re looking for. Discuss your shoot ideas and factor in their shooting preferences and abilities.
Plan out your day and be prepared. Research your location and use maps to plan your route. This will help you find the location’s vantage points. Then consider when you want to arrive. You’ll want to account for time before shooting to scout the location and set up your gear. Beyond that, you’ll want to plan for the best lighting. You might end up taking some sample shots at midday and realise you want to come back at sunset, or even after dark.
Be sensitive to your lighting’s direction as this can increase contrast, shadows, textures and reflections. High levels of contrast can fool cameras into exposing the scene incorrectly. You can easily overcome this by applying exposure compensation. Another trick is to take shots at different exposure values – exposing one for the highlights, one for the mid-tones and one for the shadows – and then merging them in Photoshop.
When flying over what might seem like a dull and uninteresting landscape, look for something out of place to create an abstract image. Make this out-of-place subject the hero by placing it in one of the third intersecting points (the rule of thirds) and enhancing the colours in post-production.
Which cameras and lenses do you use to shoot your content?
The main camera I shoot with is a Sony A7R4, but I’ve recently invested in a Sony A7R3 as my secondary camera. The drone I use is the DJI Mavic2 Pro Fly More Kit Combo with the Hasselblad L1D-20c Camera. It’s wonderful for travel and has a battery life of up to 30 minutes. There’s nothing else like it on the market!
In terms of camera lenses, my go-to is the Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4. It’s perfect for lifestyle shoots and shooting at blue-hour. I also love the Sony 70-200mm f2.8 lens. I use this one for candid and photo-journalistic style portraits as it gives me the reach to create intimate images, without invading my subjects personal space. It also provides a nice narrow depth of field and is one of the sharpest lenses I own.
You have your own hashtag #monkmenow – can you tell us a little more about it?
I had many aspiring photographers tagging me in their Instagram posts so I could review their work and pass on my feedback. So, I created my own hashtag to easily go through the content, pass on my thoughts and share my favourites each week. I found it a great way to connect and engage with my audience and wider photography community.
What is your editing process like?
I’ve created my own presets in Lightroom and will cycle through these until I find one that fits the image I’m editing. Applying this allows me to work from a base layer which helps keep consistency throughout my work and also speeds up the editing process.
Once I’m happy with the image in Lightroom, I will then use Photoshop to clean things up by removing any distracting elements from the background. Then in some cases, I’ll use Luminar for any final touches.
What’s some of your best tips for getting the perfect lighting?
Shoot in blue-hour. This is the short window of time after the sun goes down or before it comes up, where the sky is still colourful but the sun isn’t visible. Or shoot at golden hour, which of course is the hour leading up to sunset or just after sunrise. Utilise these two times of the day for different purposes and your natural lighting will always be on point.
What is your all-time best performing post on your feed, and why do you think that is?
It would have to be this image – it’s reached over a million people. The desert is slowly taking over Dubai and the battle between nature and humans is clearly evident in this shot. It’s relatability is why I think it has performed so well.
What are your top three tips for newbie photographers?
#1 Don’t think too much about what others are doing and do your own thing. Be inspired by the things you love, not by the things that are trending.
#2 Resist the urge to constantly buy new gear. There is a misconception that a new camera will result in better photos. Sure it helps, but at the end of the day the camera isn’t responsible for things like composition, framing or choosing a compelling subject – that stuff is up to you!
#3 Always have a camera handy, your smartphone will do. Great photo opportunities can crop up at any moment, so you always want to capitalise on these opportunities to take a beautiful shot. Plus, the more you practice the better you’ll become at composition, lighting, and training your creative eye.
Quick fire round. Right now I am….
Listening: Love To Go by Lost Frequencies, Zonderling and Kelvin Jones
Watching: The Social Dilemma
Eating: Scrambled eggs and salad
Wearing: Track pants and a hoodie
Drinking: A chai latte