Ive made a lot of mistakes in my career as a photographer. More than I can list I assure you. And i’ll continue to make them because frankly I'm still learning and I hope to always learn and grow. But there are some things that many newbies get stuck on in the beginning, distracted by or overwhelmed by. Thats why I thought you might like to learn from me and my mistakes if you are new to photography and are looking for advice. Or maybe this will make you feel better about yourself because you are already doing all these things…. hopefully some of these will help you not do what I did.
1) The latest and greatest is overrated
Photography 101 - There is no camera or lens that will magically transform you into the next Annie Leibovitz.
Do you know how many times I have been told that my photos must be good because I have a good camera? Too many times. It's an innocent comment granted…. but a seriously offensive one because it implies you are only as good as your equipment. Well why then have some people made mega bucks out of their iPhone images and even published books from them? Also why is it that some awards go to amateur photographers who use entry level camera's and kit lens? Ahhh got you thinking now don’t I. Maybe, just maybe it has nothing to do with your equipment? Actually I'm telling you it doesn’t. Trust me please. This lesson alone will save you cash. You’re welcome.
2: Get intimate with your equipment
That sounded better in my head.
If you are really interested in starting a photography business try and get to know the equipment you already have. I started out on a little holiday point and shoot. My photos were hideous (like you will never see them - eva) but boy I knew after using that little camera what I needed. Don’t go waisting your money on expensive cameras and lenses BEFORE you understand what it is that you need. Oh and don’t ask the guy at JBHIFI what lens you should buy…….. that is a disaster waiting to happen.
My first ever camera I bought was 7 years old when I upgraded to the next model. If I needed a backup camera I’d hire one. When I have a photoshoot even now, I don’t change lenses I use the same one for the whole shoot. That's because I know and love the 50mm because i’ve been using it for so long. I’ve learnt how to get the best out of it, how to step in and out of a scene and not rely on a zoom. Get to know the equipment you have well.
3) Stop! I said stop! comparing yourself to others
Oh my goodness. This is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Seriously how the heck do you think these people started out? Taking crap photos like you! No one buys a camera and instantly takes amazing photos. Give the leaders in their field the respect they deserve (they spent years getting to where they are) and draw inspiration from them but please don’t compare yourself. Its a slippery slope that you don’t want to be on. Its incredibly soul destroying for you and all those around you who have to hear that you aren’t as good as *insert name*.
Don’t worry if you do this, I did too. But remember this post is about “what I wish I knew”, so learn from me and my stupid mistakes.
4) Followers = who cares
In this age of social networking and being told constantly “you need more followers” it's really hard not to get carried away or jealous when you see others having followers in the thousands. Seriously I get Instagram messages and emails daily telling me, for a small amount of money, they’ll give me more followers Its such a con! Don’t believe it. Having more followers does not, I repeat, does not give an indication of talent or success. Having a lot of followers does not always equal bookings or sales. Some people have a small amount of followers but they have very loyal fans that are genuinely following them and interested in their product, these are the kind of followers you want to attract not the ones that are looking for a follow back….. Try and change your focus onto what you are putting out there rather than how many people are following you. The more effort you put into your content and the quality of it you will see your follows grow organically.
5: Editing schmediting
The amount of time I have waisted on editing and trying out new filters and styles only to end up back where I started is embarrassing.
Going back to my original comment about knowing your equipment and no magic pill to looking like an Annie Leibovitz portrait…. remember? It applies to editing too, at the end of the day its just another tool like your camera. If you take an ugly photo there is no magic filter (some might say it's like polishing a poo, not me I'd never say something like that) to make it look amazing.
The key to a beautiful image that captures someones interest is light and composition.... not editing. The only way you can achieve this is lots of practice. Once you have nailed beautiful light & interesting composition editing takes on a different meaning, usually consisting of minimal changes because you have done all of the hard work in camera. If someone comments on my editing I know something is missing...... The point of this is to tell you - don't waist valuable time in front of the computer. Get out and take photos, nail light and composition and you'll thank me later..... I promise.