Ten Things Every Photographer Should Know

April 15, 2013  •  1 Comment


Ten Things Every Photographer Should Know

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10.  Listen to the experts, then file it under "I'll take that into consideration"

This is the internet.  Everyone is an "expert" on their own blog, webpage, etc. - or at least that's what they'd like you to believe.  Some photographers are better than others, some are more technical, some are more creative, some just get lucky.  Listen to them, but remember that they do not know everything.  Part of what makes you a unique photographer is what is happening inside YOU.  It's your creative vision that makes your photos interesting.  Take advice with a grain of salt and do your own thing.

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9.  Set your sights on different

While we should all be inspired by other photographers, our goals should be to stand out - to be different.  No one wants the same wedding photos as their friend; everyone wants to feel unique.  Otherwise, everyone would just use the same photographer, the same wedding planner, and have the exact same wedding as everyone else.  So, BE UNIQUE!  Trust your gut and take risks!

8.  Simplicity does not mean boring

Let your subject shine!  Avoid distracting backgrounds and the hustle bustle.  Life is crazy and we often have waaaaay too much going on.  Forget about all that stuff and focus on what's important - your subject.  Whether you're using a low f-stop, lighting, a simple background, whatever - your subject should be the most -- often ONLY -- important piece of your composition.

7.  Value and price are not one and the same

As a photographer, your focus should be on delivering value.  Price your packages accordingly.  If you underestimate or overestimate yourself, clients overlook you nine times out of ten.  Your website should reflect your value (and talent) and so should your pricing.

6.  Everyone makes mistakes; just make sure you learn quickly!

Sometimes, as photographers, we learn on the job.  Whether is a crazy new issue with your focus or maybe you showed the photos to your client at the shoot and they are displeased... It's the nature of the beast.  Be sure that you LEARN from these mistakes.  

A few years ago, I shot a wedding and my flash decided to take twice its normal timeframe to fire.  Of course this started as they were exchanging the rings, saying their vows, and just about to kiss.  Clearly, I had no time to look at the settings.  I thought I might just die right there in front of the congregation.  Instead, I took a deep breath and dropped my f-stop/upped my ISO immediately; then, I popped my flash off, rebooted it as quickly as possible, and popped it back on - all while continuing to shoot photos.  I had to do this two or three times throughout the ceremony until I was able to fix it afterward.  It was horrifying and even though I'm certain no one noticed (my bride and groom certainly didn't!), I felt like the whole church was staring.  

Dont let mistakes rattle you.  Breathe, think on your feet, trust your instincts, and - most importantly - learn from them!  

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5.  Shock: Aesthetic matter!

Ansel Adams once said, "A photograph is often looked AT and seldom looked INTO."  Yes, we all know a photo when we like it, but why?  Photograhers must have a strong understanding of the principles of design, color, pattern, texture, lighting, camera techniques, and composition.  

Next time you like a photograph, ask yourself WHY you like it - and be specific.  Do you like the way the lighting creates a soft halo around your subject's face?  Do the colors make the subject's eyes pop?  Does the low f-stop create a sense of simplicity?  Is the balance pleasing to the eye?  And, dont forget to think about the opposite, too - next time you dislike a photograph, ask yourself WHY.

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4.  Clients don't necessarily know what they want - that's what you're there for

Clients hire you because they've done their research.  They like your artistic eye.  They trust you.  Don't rely on them to tell you what they need.  You are the professional and it's your vision that they want.  

Yes, it's nice to know if it's the bride's great-grandmother is turning 101 on the day of the wedding and they're doing something special to honor her.  This is the information you need from your clients.  That's not what I'm talking about.

Not too too long ago, I came across this incredibly beautiful woman who insisted that she looked better smiling with her mouth closed than open.  Let's be honest, she was lovely either way, but she was RADIANT when she really smiled.  It took some coaxing, but the photos were amazing (if I do say so myself).

Be encouraging and remember that you have chosen this path for a reason - and the client chose you for a reason.  Trust yourself and the client will trust you, too.

3.  The best professionals align themselves with the best

When you're good, you tend to have a lot of good contacts and know a lot of good people in the field.  If you are .... let's say: not so great ... you're going to align yourself with people who are your equals (or beneath you) so you feel better about yourself.  Strive to be the best you can be and align yourself with your equals.

2.  The biggest challenges bring out the best in us

Adversity is never fun, but often the best work comes out of the most difficult situations.  Accept jobs where you're pushing yourself to discover your vision and skills.  

I'm not saying take on a job that you're totally unqualified for, but don't be afraid to push yourself and work hard.  Do the research, if you need to.  Do what you need to do in order to not only get the difficult jobs done, do what you need to in order to get them done WELL.

A few years ago, I shot a wedding at the Hilton that overlooks Camden Yards.  It would have been sooo perfect to go out on the balcony of their room and take some photos, to the roof deck, or even wander over to the Yard for some photos.  Unfortunately, it was during the worst rainstorm I can ever remember (seriously).  The rain was pouring sideways!  No way was my bride going out in her white dress and getting soaked to the skin and the only way that wasn't happening was if I wrapped her in a tarp.  I had to improvise and set up some cool shots against the window to get the Yard in the background.  I was happy with them and - more importantly - so was the client.  Phew!

1.  Real artists CREATE

Don't just work with what you've got.  MAKE it happen.  Know your couples, know your subject, use your knowledge to create your vision and do something different and unique to each couple - because, after wall, each couple is different!

Not only will you love your job - and the work you produce - but you'll also be successful.


[This list was lovingly adapted from Guy Kawasaki's article "What I learned from Steve Jobs." Feel free to check out his version.]


Nicole (Life's Tidbits)(non-registered)
Great list! I think #4 is one of my favorites. Great information for professionals and those just breaking into the photography business!!
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