I have some photography advice for you. It has nothing to do with f-stops or apertures, composition or storytelling. Sure those principles are important, but they aren't my focus today.
This advice will not only help you improve your photographs but your life as a photographer. Use the tips today. Use them years from now. They'll still work.
Put down your camera and pull up a chair. Here we go.
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These tips will not only improve your photography but your life as a photographer
Do your best work for the audience of one. You.
- Trey Ratcliff talked about going to see Patrick Stewart. Patrick came out to see a room of four people, but played it like it was a full Carnegie Hall audience.
- Sometimes you might get one or two likes, but don't let that discourage you. You might not have a lot of followers. So what? Do your best work for yourself...and for the love of your craft. Produce your best and send it out to the world without fear or apology.
Find more opportunities to appreciate than criticize.
- "Jen" posted a photo in the Canon group — a beautiful photo of a bee and a flower. Then she said 'this is for those of you who pooh pooh the kit lens. I took this photo with a kit lens and it's beautiful.' Um... Did she really mean to diss photographers who buy expensive lenses in a Canon group?
- The problem is that in criticizing, she didn't know what she didn't know. Sure a kit lens is good for that kind of photo, but that kind of photo isn't why people buy expensive lenses. The group let her all have it.
- If she'd just posted and expressed appreciation, she might have received much in return. Instead she got condemnation. In "How to win friends and influence people," one of Dale Carnegie's first principles is to avoid criticizing. It only makes the other person determined to prove you wrong. "If you want honey, don't kick over the beehive."
- This doesn't mean you don't give helpful critiques. Know the difference.
- The best camera for you is only best for you.
- "Sarah" says she shoots much better the second time she visits a location. That's because she finally slows down.
- Shoot beyond the first impulse. Magic rarely shows up on the first image of a scene.
- Rather than looking for the great shot, find a shot and make it great
- Try the unexpected angle. Sweep all four corners of your viewfinder. Look at your settings. Check the background. How might I do this differently? Repeat.
Practice seeing when you don't have your camera
- I have photographed the monuments thousands of times and most times without my camera.
- Just because you don't have your camera, doesn't mean you can't improve your photography.
- Practice noticing details and moments.
- Look for the light source. Observe the light. How would you use the existing light to flatter your subject or how would you overcome bad light?
- Train yourself to see better without the camera and reap the benefits when you do.
Show only your best work
- My friend has never taken a bad picture — or so I thought.
- That's how you are immediately seen as a better photographer; don't show your bad pictures.
- Nobody wants to see 30 images of the same thing, not even your mother.
- Forcing yourself to edit your photo shoot down to one or two images will improve your photography the next time you go out.
Teach someone who knows less than you
- The best way to learn is to teach.
- When you are out in a group, make yourself available to help someone who might be struggling.
- Explain what you do and why. That discipline will help you clarify your ideas and invite good karma.