I dreamed I bumped into a younger version of myself.
It was me from college, the guy taking his first photography class. I saw the younger me in the French Quarter working on a photo assignment, so I stopped to say hello.
I wanted to tell him to stick with that photography thing. It works out in the end. You'll end up teaching right here. But before I could say that, younger me asked a question.
"Based on what you know now, what helpful advice can you share?"
Good question. Here's what I told younger me. Come to think of it, this advice is just as useful for me, the old guy, too.
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You already have everything you need to be a photographer.
It's tempting to downplay yourself when you start out. You make up distinctions. I'm a beginner photographer, a new photographer, an emerging photographer. You qualify. I'm just a newbie. I'm only a beginner. Knock all of that off. Don't limit yourself in your mind or your speech. You limit your actions as a result. You are a photographer. Go ahead and own it. (Listen to episode 32 - You already have everything you need to be a photographer)
I know it's fun to shoot sunsets and flowers, but you shouldn't be afraid to experiment with something outside your comfort zone. Try different subjects. Try different kinds of light. You won't grow if you don't experiment. Think of the skills that will take you to the next level and look for opportunities to experiment with them. (Listen to episode 45 - The one big mistake you are probably making with your photography)
Look for the photo that only you can take.
This is how you begin to develop your unique style. What's the photo that only you can take? It might be as simple as you are the only one with access to this subject. It might be that you see the subject differently than others because of your background or experience. Find the unique angle that only you have and embrace it.
Be comfortable taking bad pictures.
You will take lots of bad pictures, and there is nothing wrong with that. You should expect it. It's part of your growth. Look at them. Learn from them. Delete them and move on. (Nobody tells people who are beginners)
Simplicity is the key to better photos.
If you want to improve a photo, ask how can you simplify it.
You are the artist. When you create something that you like, share it. Your best work will do you no good buried on your computer. If you love it, share it bravely. (Who cares what anyone else thinks? You are the artist.)
Know where to go for the feedback.
Photography communities are overflowing with people who are doling out inaccurate information as fact. I don't mean Canon vs Nikon opinions. I mean information that is clearly wrong being dispensed as truths. They are providing recommendations on cameras and feedback on your images. Find someone you know and trust for your photography feedback and advice. (How to receive and give photo critiques)
Nobody - not even your mother - wants to see all your photos.
Seriously. Those 50 photos you want to upload? Cut them to five. You don't have 50 great photos from any shoot yet. Pick your best five. That's all anyone wants to see anyway. Mom is only politely wading through the other 45. Learn to edit and curate.
You don't need permission to create something impactful with your photography.
Back in the old days, you needed an editor or curator for your images to be seen. Not anymore. You can create your own show, story, or business. Don't wait for anyone else's permission. Pick yourself. (Listen to episode 29 - Pick yourself)
Your work always has value.
You might be tempted to give your work away for free because you are a new photographer. Resist that urge. The worth of your images has nothing to do with the length of time you have been shooting. Your photograph has the same value to CNN, a bride, or a newspaper editor whether you have been shooting for one year or 20 years. Know your value and be comfortable asking for it. (Listen to episode 17 - Should I ever shoot for free?)
Upgrade your only camera when you bump into the limitations of your current one.
You don't need a new camera just because Nikon released one. Your camera isn't outdated just because Canon invented new features. Is there something that you want to create that is now difficult because of the limitations of your camera? Will the new model allow you to improve the quality of your image or your quality of life? Now you are ready to upgrade. (Listen to episode 11 - Why you need a new camera)
Get over your watermark already.
I've seen pages of incredibly beautiful images in National Geographic. Not one of them had a watermark. Same for the Pulitzer Prize images in the Newseum. No watermarks on Ansel Adams or Cartier Breson's best work. Most great artists won't pollute their art with anything that detracts. Your watermark won't keep anyone from stealing your image, and there are ways to build a brand without a pink flamingo. (Pink flamingo?! You'll get it after you listen to episode 54, How to keep people from stealing your best images)
What's your advice?
Was this advice helpful? What's the best advice you have received? What advice would you give to your yourself as a new photographer?