21 Things I’ve Learned as a Photographer

Bernadette von Drachenberg Model Mayhem

Model: Bernadette von Drachenberg

I’ve been shooting for close to three years now and I feel like I should share with you some of the stuff I’ve come to realize as I grow as a photographer. Some of it’s philosophical more so than aesthetic or technical but it’s what I’ve observed over the past several years. So … here goes and in no particular order:

  1. A better camera doesn’t make you a better photographer any more than a Ferrari would make you a better driver.
  2. There’s more to be being a photographer than pointing a camera at someone/something and snapping a picture; the photos I’ve taken are when the subject and I have connected during the shoot.
  3. Fail to plan and you plan to fail. Yes, cliché, I know but no less true. Especially when you’re working on a conceptual shoot. There are too many elements at play to just “wing it”.
  4. Photowalks (Photo clubs, Photo forums, etc.) are AWESOME! You get to meet other Light Scribes, share your imaging war stories and learn from each other.
  5. Going to a college or university to study photography isn’t for everyone. And right along with that is…
  6. You don’t NEED to go to school to learn how to take great images.
  7. Always employ the KISS (Keep It Simple Sir) method when on a photo shoot. If there’s a way to achieve the image you’re after that doesn’t involve carrying around or setting up a ton of stuff then do it!
  8. Never wait until the day of a shoot to get your gear together – EVER!
  9. Never loan out your gear to someone you wouldn’t leave alone in your home. Trust is a must!
  10. Stop making excuses; go out and make great images instead. You’ll be much happier.
  11. Learning at least the basics of Lightroom and Photoshop is a must.
  12. Getting it right in camera will make your time in Lightroom and Photoshop more enjoyable and less like a chore.
  13. Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery but never settle for being like So And So photographer at the expense of developing and nurturing your own style. Add to that shoot what inspires you, not what’s trendy.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask someone with more experience for advice. Not everyone will be an ass about it.
  15. Photography is a means to connect with the world around you, one frame at a time.
  16. Invest in some way to back up your images – DVDs, external drives, the Cloud, it doesn’t matter – just DO IT! You never want to feel the sorrow of losing thousands of memories, trust me.
  17. Once you begin to truly get into the art of photography light will never be the same to you ever again.
  18. Learn to be a discerning image editor; you can’t post everything you shoot. Nor should you want to. I believe it was photographer Jared Platt that said you have to be able to “kill your darlings”. I’m still learning that one…
  19. When you get your first camera PLEASE do yourself a favor and invest in extras. Extra batteries, extra memory cards…
  20. Dump the kit lens as SOON as you can afford better glass (lenses).
  21. Last but not least enjoy the process. Don’t be so caught up on the technically that you lose sight of what’s really important – capture the moments that move you and those around you.

What are some of the things you’ve learned during your journey with photography? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.


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