10 THINGS EVERY NEW PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD KNOW
- Gear does not make you good. I LOVE IT when people tell me “If I had a nice camera like you, I could take good pictures too” haha. It’s just not true any more then having a nice baseball bat would make you a home run hitter or driving a sports car would make you a Nascar driver. In fact, it could actually make things more challenging if you don’t know what you’re doing. — Besides, what’s the point of having a high end camera and lens setup and then keep it in P for professional. SMH.
- Having a vision or style is more important then the technical details. Well how to you develop your vision? It comes in time from looking at tons images. What are you drawn to vs. what turns you off. For me, when I first started shooting, I scoured TONS of fashion mags and ripped out the images from ads and editorials that I wished I had in my portfolio. I had a binder full of them. If you flipped through the binder you could definitely see a certain style I was drawn to so that’s what I tried to emulate until I could make it my own.
- Master the basics first! Don’t spend $$$ on gear. Real photography happens within you – the camera is just your outlet. Give me a disposable camera and I bet you I could still take some amazing pictures. Why? Because I understand the fundamentals – composition, lighting, posing, etc. My recommendation is to use 1 camera and 1 lens AND MASTER THEM. Know what they are capable of inside and out. Know why you would want a different lens or what features would be useful on a different camera before you jump to them.
- See the light. It’s absolutely the most important thing in my opinion. Even when you’re not shooting try to identify good and bad lighting situations. How would you shoot it – how would you overcome difficult lighting situations. Don’t even consider incorporating pro lighting until you’ve masted natural light. You have to build your house on rock solid fundamentals or it’s going to turn into a hot mess.
- Shoot what you love!! For me that’s portraits, for you it could be landscapes, live music, cars or even just your kids around the house. When you are drawn to something you naturally want to present it as best you can. People will see your passion for what your shooting through your images.
- Work in levels – Don’t rush. Everyone has to start at the beginning. Master camera basics then educate yourself on the fundamentals. I’m stubborn! I always want to be amazing at everything I try right out the gate, but being a truly great photographer is a long game. Trust me when I tell you there are no overnight photography sensations – they’ve put years of hard work into their craft before popping up on the scene.
- Visualize what you want your final product to look like and shoot accordingly. Are you shooting to sell prints, for facebook, for your portfolio? Are you trying to present something cohesive or is this a one off image. Go in with a thought before you ever click a pic.
- Read your camera manual. Trust me when I tell you it’s full of super useful information on how to get the most out of your camera. It seems like a no brainer, but most people are like “I got this” – No. You don’t. && There’s no way you could possibly know all of the amazing features your camera is capable of if you don’t read it. Why have an amazing camera if your not utilizing it to the fullest – you paid for those features!!
- Don’t do it all by yourself. There are many in person and online communities to help you learn and keep you focused. I know I am a better photographer for knowing other amazing photographers. The photography community is a fun one! Here are just a few amazing communities you can check out. Creative Live / DPChallenge / PPA / Phlearn (These are literally just a few, but there are a TON of amazing resources.)
- Keep shooting!! Shoot everyday. Even if it’s your cat everyday. Even if its your shitty ’92 Honda. Keep shooting! The only way to improve is to keep trying. Don’t get discouraged. It’s said you learn more from your misses then you do from your successes so just look at a miss as a bigger leap forward to being great one day. Everyone starts somewhere. Who’s your favorite photographer? Guess what, they were shit when they started too. They stuck with it though and mastered their craft. YOU CAN DO IT! I believe in you!
Note: I am a Canon shooter, but my client was all about Nikon. 😉