During my first months into photography, I had a Camera and little or no direction. I just kept shooting random pictures, and it felt good. I was capturing moments and was in a stage of discovery. From those moments till now I have gathered knowledge on several deep information and some important steps that I think will make your journey faster and also be a guide to give you direction. This article will be direct and I think you should read it again during your journey and it will make a whole lot sense to you.
Here are my 15 tips;
1. Have no fear:
The numbering is at random but I made sure “have no fear” is on top, my reason is simple “Self Confidence” is essential in photography. During your beginning years you will run into photographers and even clients that will use terminologies to scare you. As a photographer you need take charge of your emotions for in many cases you will have to be the one in charge of your subject movements, the background, the foreground and many factors that build up your composition.
When I started Portrait Photography and having to work with models I never went for a shoot without my partner. I knew all the theory aspect but could never hold the Camera due to lack of confidence until when he literally forced me to do the shoots by myself. In those moments I realised I could do it on my own.
You are in Charge, ask questions when necessary, its okay not to know everything.
2. Reading and Researching:
Knowledge they say; is the new currency of wealth. You have to be involved in constant information seeking. You cannot know everything but the more you know the more time you save; the more informed decisions you make. I think you should invest time reading articles such as this, going through portfolios of renowned photographers on their websites, tumblr, Instagram or any platform. You are researching not because you don’t already know it, but you want to know it better.
3. Get Creative:
Photography like everything else in life is guided by numerous rules. These rules are very important and keeps balance but if you follow the rules on all occasion, there goes your creativity and unique touch. I personally think you should know the rules and recommendation, then break them occasionally to create your own style.
4. Understand the exposure triangle:
I recently covered detailed explanations on the exposure triangle. You can check them out here (Shutter Speed, ISO, Aperture). If you already know them good for you. Different scenarios call for knowledge on different mix in exposure triangle settings. i.e. knowing how low your shutter speed (1/60) can get when not using your Tripod to avoid Camera shake, using the lowest ISO possible, using a slower shutter speed to capture motion and a faster to shutter speed to freeze motion while keeping same exposure values.
5.Decide what your kind of photography:
Photography is broader than you imagine, we have wedding , fashion , portrait , product , documentary , landscape , wide-life photography and many more. You need to experiment on various type and find out the kind you are drawn to. It’s a natural process and you will eventually find out your genre.
6. Do not rush into getting equipment:
I wish when I started I had someone telling me the exact equipment to purchase and why. I bought several equipment in quantities that had no meaning. You have to know the exact equipment you need and why you need it, also make sure you totally need an equipment before investing.
Just as I mentioned earlier “You are in charge”. This means you have to be in control of the lighting, the posing, and many more. So you need to know plan ahead of time and know exactly what is needed. Your client or model can easily tell if you are not well prepared, this can bring doubts and there goes your shoot.
When I watch workshop classes by top photographers like Lindsay Adler, Sue Bryce, Aaron Nace and so on. At first I was wondering how they always know exactly what to do in these workshops without making almost no error, but then I constantly heard them say “While I was preparing”, “While I was practicing last night”. This shows even the best of the best prepare, so you have to do the same.
KND Media Moodboard Sample
8. Set Goals:
Just like everything else you can’t achieve everything at once. So you need to set achievable goals and definite time periods. With this you can track your progress and stay motivated.
9. Find the right mentor:
Sir Isaac Newton had a popular quote. “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.". Instead of spending several time discovering a path, you need to focus some of this effort in finding a mentor. A mentor has gone through this journey and can easily guide you on the do’s and don’ts. There is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel.
Finding the right mentor can be a taunting task, anyway thanks to platforms like Instagram things can get a little bit easier. You need to understand that your newly found mentor has absolutely no reason to guide you or make out time to invest in you. You simply have to offer yourself to make life easier for your mentor. Only then can your mentor begin to see the need to release information and knowledge to you. I will give more details on this in a further article.
10. Shoot on CAMERA raw :
Always shoot on Camera raw and maybe jpeg. Camera raw is a must as you get more information to work with .jpeg format is an already compressed format of the Image.
11. Know the common composition rules:
Rule of Thirds, Golden triangle, Symmetry, Negative Space, Rule of Odds. These are some of the the composition rules you need to research on. Composition is key
12. Keep experimenting:
This is one the very fun parts of photography, you need to constant practice and experiment. What happens if I put my light this way, what happens if I do it the other way. Sometimes instead of going online to find solutions you can seat on your own and do experiments. You need to keep experimenting this is very important as a photographer I think you should practice even more than you research.
13. Join a photography circle
No man is an island. Where-ever you find yourself, there is photography community. You can share knowledge, learn and participate in Constructive Criticism(CC). Also spend time in stalking photographers and understanding new concepts from the photographers. As long as you like what you see, ask questions.
14. Put off the on-camera flash
The camera flash is a simply a No no, it does funny things to your images. You should avoid using it at all cost. If you need an additional lights get Speedlite flashes (External flashes) or Strobe lights (Studio Lights) anything but the On-Camera flash
15. Show enthusiasm
You must be in love with photography, for only then can you go through all the struggles and have a big smile on your face at the end of the day. Whenever speaking with your team members, your mentor or potential clients; you must ooze of enthusiasm, love and determination. Displaying such emotions naturally attracts help from all angles.