7 Tips That Will Make You a Better Photographer
The state of the photograph is chaotic and changes quickly. The definition of photographer is evolving, the entry barrier is at its lowest level and the imposter syndrome is consolidating.
Let’s review the mental equipment needed to shoot in this new landscape.
#1. Drop Your Doubt
Instagram is overflowing with spectacular photographers. They are younger than you, they are more talented, they have advertising contracts, they travel the world, they are incredibly consistent, they have more followers than you think, their work looks like a pile of garbage compared to them.
It’s easy to fall into this rabbit hole and get out of control.
Compare yourself to your past self. See your progress. Know that there is room for everyone who is willing to put the work to break in. Realize that raw talent is a small fraction of how a photographer breaks.
Humble yourself with the fact that, even if you dedicate your whole life to photography, there will always be countless “better” photographers than you and countless “worse” photographers than you.
More time shooting and editing. Less time in your head.
#2. Be More Proactive
The biggest difference between a successful photographer (however, you define success) and a failed photographer is your unity. The photographer who is doomed to fail is the photographer who wants the information to reach them, whoever wants the skill to come naturally, whoever the equipment does the heavy lifting, whoever wants the process to be quick and easy.
A photographer who is prepared for success is a photographer who loves the process, who likes to learn new things, who seeks and absorbs new techniques, who arrives when he needs help, who takes advantage of the resources available to them, who fears stagnation. and acts with that fear, which spends more time photographing and editing and less time in your head.
Love your photos as you love your favorite people.
#3. Wish More Reviews
Be it honest, direct, friendly or severe feedback, it is the essential fuel to grow and improve. Even when our photography is an extension of ourselves, make yourself at home in a feedback session.
Be excited about the opportunity for a colleague to dissect you, separate you, and point out everything they think could be improved.
We will try to love our photos as we love our favorite people: with an intimate knowledge and acceptance of their strengths and failures, not as a fantasy with the varnish of perfection, not as a nightmare with a cloud of insecurity.
Photography thrives on our willingness to reflect on our failures. Photography is a type of narrative that thrives on clear goals.
#4. Find Your Orbit
Food Weddings? Portraits? Panorama? Documentary? Journalism? Macro? Art Photography? Travel? Street? Hobby?
Each branch of photography is different, incorporates different styles and views, requires different skills or equipment, has more vs less human interaction and is suitable for different types of personality.
And photography is a type of narrative that thrives on clear goals, even if it’s just for fun.
Didn’t find your style? Think about why you like certain looks. Don’t like a branch? Try another one. Perhaps the business you are best at is not what you like. Perhaps what you like is not what you have already experienced.
I prefer to be a stick for every job or would you rather find your niche? Is your favorite gender out of financial reach? Explore what is available to you, question your vision, experiment with form and find what you are gravitating to. Choose the story you want to tell. So let your story inform your edits.
#5. Know Your Ratio
Shooting against editing. Are you highly conceptual and like to distort reality? Do you prefer a realistic documentary? Somewhere between the two?
Put conscious thought into why you want your photos to look specific. Go beyond aesthetic trends and carefully choose the story you want your photo to tell.
So let your story inform your edits.
Iconic photographer Ansel Adams, an advocate of photography as an art form in the early 20th century, helped to develop public opinion on the subject, promoting the purity of the photography process (a combination of filming and darkroom manipulation).
Therefore, no matter what the proportion, photography becomes an art when it is a conscious combination of both. It takes courage to add clarity. Aimless photography is devoid of growth.
#6. Define Your Way
Ask yourself the big questions earlier, even if you change the answers later. Is this how you want to make a living? Will it be your main source of income? Is it a side run for extra money? Is it philanthropic? Is it a creative outlet? If so, what goal could you set to tell your story effectively?
Think about how photography fits into your life, why you personally invested, and how you want your work to impact others. Each direction reports the amount of time, energy and money needed to pursue it. It takes courage to add clarity.
Because defining the place of photography in your life allows judgment, welcomes friends to ask for progress updates and allows your development to be measured. Aimless photography is safe in comparison, it is a place to hide, a place immune to evaluation, prone to stagnation and devoid of growth.
Photography is not harmless. Photography is not immune to the consequence.
#7. Understand Ethics
Especially when it comes to streets, travel and portraits, know that your images do not exist in a vacuum. We all portray others through the lens of our own life experience.
And like it or not, our life experience has a bias, an angle and is part of history. Sometimes these images are shown for a specific purpose (to display, reveal beauty, document travel) or sometimes to make money from them, but they are seldom maintained by ourselves.
Photography is not harmless and photography is not immune to consequences. A camera, like most technologies, can be a tool used for good or a tool used to do harm.
It can inspire a generation like Earthrise. It can shed light on turbulences like Tiananmen Square. But it can also be used to spread propaganda, to exploit those who are already at a disadvantage.
Think outside of your own experience, never trust the golden rule, listen to those who have been wronged, take the time to seek out perspectives that are not yours and create with consideration.