I am going, to be honest…Usually, lists like these make my eyes roll. Generally speaking, these kinds of lists are beyond generic, and usually not very helpful to anyone reading them. So hopefully, I will be able to make this list better than most of the lists you will find out on the internet today.
Learning how to be a photographer is hard, and for so many, myself included, we had to learn on our own without any kind of teacher or mentor. The process can be super painful as you try to create, all the while comparing your level 1 photo to a level 50 photographer. I get it, I was there once.
So here are a couple of tips and ideas that might make the process easier.
- Experiment with different angles, lighting, and composition to capture unique and interesting photos.
- OK, I know…I am starting out this list with a “DUH” sort of tip, but hear me out. When I started learning the art of photography I took all my photos the same way…Standing up, camera to my eyes. It took me a while to figure out that most of my subjects were shorter than I was, me being 6′, and so many of my photos had this sort of looking down angle to them. The day I put two and two together was sort of a facepalm kind of day.
- The lesson of it all was to learn to take photos from different angles. With different angles came learning how to light photos differently, learning that lead to new creative ideas, etc.
- Every time you try to shoot differently you learn something new.
- Keep a photography journal to track your progress and make notes on techniques you want to try.
- If you take only one thing from this article take this one. KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING! I have been shooting for 12 years and I still keep a journal, writing down the details from every single shoot. What did I learn, what did I try new, what worked, what didn’t work, what do I want to try next time, etc. WRITE IT ALL DOWN!
- The best equipment you can buy is the one you can afford.
- This one is going to be really hard for some of you to understand. You do NOT need the latest and greatest camera gear in order to be a great photographer. I know great photographers who shoot on cameras 20 years old and use light fixtures they bought at Home Depot. You do NOT need to go broke buying the latest camera, lights, gear bags, ND filters, Macbooks, and more.
- The best camera is the one you can afford and know how to use. I often encourage new photographers looking to purchase a camera to start out taking photos on their phones. Learn the art of composition and lighting 1st then upgrade to something inexpensive like the Canon M50. I shot for years on an old Canon Rebel before I upgraded to a Canon M50, and it was only in 2020 that I purchased my Sony A7iii.
- Better gear does NOT make you a better photographer, but learning the art of photography through trial, hard work, and practice does!
- If you are taking photos you are a photographer.
- Please do not listen to anyone telling you that “You are only a real photographer if you do __________” There is so much of this on the internet. Some people claim that you are only a photographer if you shoot manually, or only shoot film, or never do this, or only do that. It’s all elitist noise and should be ignored.
- When I 1st started learning how to photograph shooting in full manual scared me. I didn’t know what I was doing and so I shot on Aperture Priority Mode for like a year. I kept track of my shoots, learned settings, and wrote it all down in my journal. Eventually, I felt comfortable shooting in full manual. Did the fact that I wasn’t shooting manually make me less of a photographer…NO! It meant that I was a photographer who was currently learning, and anyone who says otherwise is a snob!
- Fail! Fail some more! Fail often!
- OK, this last one is going to be really hard for some of you, but listen closely. You HAVE to fail in order to become a great photographer. You won’t be perfect at it right out of the gate. You won’t be perfect after a year of practice. You won’t be perfect at it even after 10,000 hours of practice.
- Photography is a journey that will NEVER end. There is no finish line, there is no end goal. There will ALWAYS be things and ways you can improve at and on.
- So take this journey slowly. There is no rush. There is no right way to learn, and no hurry to get anywhere. Just shoot, fail, shoot again, and learn. Every time you pick up your camera try something new, learn something new. If you do that you will be well on your way to becoming a great photographer!