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.

Leica 1600mm Lens – What Would You Pay?



Image via Unique Photo Blog

Sooo… I was over at the Unique Photo blog and came across this image of the insanely large and even more insanely priced Leica 1600mm lens (2560mm on a camera with a 1.6x crop factor…just saying). According to the post, this behemoth of a lens is about four feet long with a 16.5 in. barrel diameter – WTH?! Some Sheikh over in Qatar dropped a measly TWO MILLION to have it made. Perhaps he wants to see the nose hairs of distant alien life forms. 🙂

If you’d like to read more about it just check out the blog post here: Ridiculous Lens of the Day: Leica APO-Telyt-R 1:5.6/1600mm Lens. After reading about it let me know what you think of this super huge lens below.


Monday Motivation: The Purpose of Life…



” The purpose of LIFE is to give life PURPOSE.” – Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

I’ve read and reread this quote maybe a thousand times or more and the meaning is never lost on me. When pondering what we should do with our lives we must find something, anything, that allows us to feel as though we are making a difference in some way. An actor may feel that as long as they can inspire others through the roles they take on then that provides them with a sense of fulfillment. Likewise, police officer may have been drawn to that role by a desire to make, at the neighborhood in which they serve, a better place.

As a photographer, what do you aspire to? Why do you pick up a camera every day? If it for fame? Money? Is it to one day achieve status and recognition among your peers? For me, learning photography has been, and continues to be a journey in which I’m learning much more than how to capture a moment in time. Through photography, I’ve been given an opportunity to learn things about myself and others that I might not ever have discovered otherwise.

Sure, I like to take nice pictures but that is only a by product of the experience. Connecting with people, capturing and helping them preserve life’s little moments…that’s where it’s at! That’s why I love photography and that’s why I’m proud to call myself a photographer. Even if by some chance I discover that photography isn’t my calling I can still cherish the journey and all the treasures I’ve found along the way.


Monday Motivation: Stop Wearing Your Wishbone…


“Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

Short and sweet: as a photographer, sometimes I get caught up in detrimental mind speak when I can’t get the results I want. Statements like “if only I had [insert cool new camera or other gadget here] then it would be easier to achieve what I want”. The reality is, all I need is to get off my behind and go practice. I need to sop wishing for the results I want and instead “man up” and do what I need to do to achieve them. Have you had moments like that? Please feel free to share below.