21 Readers Tell What they Wish They’d Known about Photography

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Over the weekend I asked our Facebook page (please ‘like us and share it with your network) a quick question about what they wish they’d known when they first started out in photography. I gave them a 50 word limit an over the next 48 hours hundreds of great tips came in.

Image by JOHN CORVERA

Here are 21 tips that were ‘liked’ by others most.

  1. “You can’t please everyone!” – Tonya Holsey
  2. “Learn Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO first. Stay on Manual. Shoot Raw.” – Alfredo Avila
  3. “Don’t Buy the Kit Lens!” – Shari Schoeman
  4. “Don’t be afraid of taking bad pictures.” – John Ireland
  5. “Practice, practice, practice. Art is interpreted individually. But have fun experimenting!” – Jonathan McGill
  6. “Don’t think you need the best camera or equipment. You only need inspiration and a dream” – Julie Williams
  7. “Practice until using the various settings becomes an automatic skill and then relax into the ‘art’ of photography. Lighting is your friend and your enemy, stay on its good side at all times.” – Donna Seen
  8. “Take a film class so you have to learn iso, shutter speed, and aperture really well! Practice, practice, practice! Change your perspective. When looking at other people’s work don’t just think “that’s a cool shot!” Ask yourself WHY you like it and then try to apply that to your own shots.” – Annie Richardson
  9. “A 50mm f/1.8 lens will change your life.” – Enrique Villarreal
  10. “Take your camera with you. Everywhere. “Almost” all the time.” – Mike Smith
  11. “Just because the vintage effect looks “nice,” doesn’t mean you have to use it on every. Single. Picture.” – Kaylene Morgan Pinkham
  12. “Take a picture everday, challenge yourself. Read your manual. Learn your camera settings.” – Lori Granquist Day
  13. “They are not all keepers, and just as a hammer doesn’t build an amazing house a camera doesn’t take an amazing photo. They are tools. Think outside the box.” – Brad Beavers
  14. “You can’t fix everything in Photoshop. Pay attention to the background.” – Beverly Everson
  15. “Don’t show people the bad stuff. Shoot 300, show 1.” – Matthew Rubel
  16. “Just because you love photography, doesn’t mean you have to make it your PROFESSION. If it’s your passion + you are ready to dedicate yourself to the art, never give up and go for it!” – Tiffany Kay
  17. “My Photography teacher always said When you see Action, Turn around. Meaning watch the people who are watching a event happen.” – David Counts
  18. “Find the light, but don’t be afraid of shadows.” – Amber Oman
  19. “Leave your camera at home, walk around for 4 weeks and learn to SEE first. Collect pictures in your head until you really hate, that you don’t have the camera with you.” – Manuel Dorn
  20. “Get inspiration from other photographers work but never copy. Make your photos a reflection of what’s in your heart.” – Céline Allano

Here’s one more from Karen Rader who went a little over 50 words but whose words seemed to resonate with a lot of our readers:

“Master ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Shoot everyday. Study your results (including what shutter speed, ISO and aperture settings you used for your favorite shots).

Anytime you feel that your equipment is inadequate, it just means you need to master the basics better. The master photographers from 50-100 years ago didn’t have anything as fancy as you are holding in your hot little paws, so claiming inadequate equipment isn’t a good excuse. Work on your skills.

Composition is everything. Study the master painters (Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, etc) for inspiration in composition. Start to see things as a painter.

Hit us over the head with your subject. Make it obvious what we are supposed to be seeing. Remove the clutter.”

What do YOU wish you’d known about photography when you first started out?

The tips above only scratch the surface of what was submitted – you can see the full range of responses here.

I’d also love to hear what tips you wish you’d known when you started out. Feel free to either add them on Facebook or in comments below!

Read more from our category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Gary

    If it moves, think shutter, if it doesn’t move, think aperture and always keep ISO low

  • avacreates

    Hi Darren,
    I haven’t been on the site for a while – I’ve been quite ill, however, today, I logged into DPS and already feel better. DPS has given me something to look forward to. The information and input from members is awesome.

    The first thing I want to say is in response to Barry Goldstein who advices against buying kit lenses. I couldn’t afford anything better and I have to say, I am not entirely unhappy that I took the ‘kit lens’ deal with my camera because I’ve had so much fun. I’m new to DSLR, so having these lenses has given me the opportunity to LEARN and CREATE and after all its all about Composition first and the Exposure Triangle. Of course, had I had the finances to buy better lenses, I would deffinately have taken Barry’s advice.

    The other thing I’d like to say is that ‘Not knowing all the Rules’ has been an awesome gift for me because I have photos that I wouldn’t have if I had known the rules and stuck to them. My advice to beginners is to ‘PLAY, PLAY, PLAY’ with all the settings and then learn the rules.

    AVA

  • Glen

    at the end of the day, a great picture is a great picture..a good photographer will produce a good image regardless of equipment (still debatable)…what matters is the final product..if you show a bad image to someone, he will not tell you “what a crappy image you got, but i like it because you used the best camera and lens, shoot in full manual with low iso, did not use photoshop, etc..”

    the best advice would be: the best equipment is the one you have right now so get out, shoot, practice and be consistent..

  • Pablo

    I haven’t read all he comments beyond the 21 so forgive me if I’m repetitious but I agree with the first tip, “You can’t please everyone!”. I think photography is an art and artists rarely follow the rules. It’s a way to express how you view the world. I’ve learned to appreciate the “purist” as well as the skilled “photoshopper” . Experiment, find your niche…If you like it, chances are someone else will.

  • Matthew Bailey

    99% of photography is composition. It doesn’t matter what you shoot it with if it isn’t compelling visually. An L lens can’t make something interesting. They do make it clearer, but not more interesting.

  • khushi solanki

    hi
    many thanks for doing this work for me (us)
    i am sure i will take the tips more seriously
    keep up your good work
    cheers
    khushi solanki

  • I agree with so much here, as i learned a lot of it FROM this great site. A lot of this advice you will use in stages. As a new photographer: don’t spent 10 grand on equipment. it’s like buying your 12-year old Eddie Van Halen’s guitar rig. recognize a good picture in yr head before you turn your camera on. get good with the recognition and framing of a picture (think like a painter) and you will only have 20 throw away shots instead of a hundred.
    I am just now getting into shooting manual. doing so early was too frustrating and took my mind off my goal. wait until the other stuff is easy and add the manual settings. and ALWAYS check the settings on your camera before clicking away. a couple of times i got great pics only to realize later i had left the white balance in a wrong setting or my last round was in lower light and i go out the next morning shooting sunrise in ISO 1600. took quite a few before i reviewed any and GEH!!!!

  • @ Richard, who said: “ALWAYS check the settings on your camera before clicking away. a couple of times i got great pics only to realize later i had left the white balance in a wrong setting or my last round was in lower light and i go out the next morning shooting sunrise in ISO 1600. took quite a few before i reviewed any and GEH!!!!”

    Been there. Done that! Auto-focus can be particularly dangerous. I hate taking a picture of two friends talking, with the spot-meter focused between their faces on the horizon several miles away!

  • Sushant

    Priceless ‘Photography Commandments’ !

  • TNH

    On photography forums (and in real life), don’t get too discouraged when the Critiques just ‘tear you down.’ Don’t let a strange person (who you’ve never met before!) on the internet let you lower your view of yourself! Follow your photography dreams, and while the critiques can be VERY helpful, don’t take their personal opinions as facts. They’re just people with their own opinions, like you are! One person may come along and say that your work is terrible, but the next may come by and say that it’s fantastic.
    So DO NOT quit because someone is hard on you! Use their criticism to learn how to do better, even if they hurt your feelings a little.

    So all in all, the critiques in life can be helpful or hurtful, but don’t let them change who YOU are as a photographer.

    That is some advice that I wish I’d known when I first started photography! 🙂

  • Naz

    I wish I had known the secrets that professionals know but are loathe to divulge- such as using the golden mean as a compositional tool- Ran across a website that shows how the master photographers didn’t sim ply just pick up a camera and start clicking away hoping to one day just ‘get it’- they studied hard, learned their craft, learned compositional rules, and use it in their photography Henri Cartier Bresson, one of them ost successful photographers, used it extensively- and it shows when you know what to look for- Bresson didn’t just go to a site and click away hoping for a ‘hAppy accident’ composiution-wise- He worked a scene- and he worked it hard- moving just milimeters at times, in order to get the composition perfect- He went to scenes and took ‘pre shots’ in order to study the compoisition, and hten would wait for hours sometimes for subjects to be in the right spots before clicking hte shuitter button-

    Pablo picaso at age 13 knew more about composition than a lot of would be artists because he studied diligently and put in a lot of hard work thinking about composition before just applying paint to canvas- Van Gogh and many many other great artists also knew the geometric compositions such as golden rule, golden mean, golden spiral, baroque diagonals, sinister diagonals etc, and they baqsed their art on these truths- Nature conforms to these geometric truths as well, and our minds crave order and cohesive harmonies-

    Anyways- I wish i had known this truth about hte arts many years ago- would have saved me a ton of frustration and I wouldn’t have wasted so many years spinning my wheels, clicking away, hoping that one day somehting would juyst ‘click’ and I’d all of a suddend ‘get it’ and udnerstand good compiosition- You MUST learn the rules before you will ever learn what to look for

  • Hamza

    Wow! I think these thoughts are like a school in a nut shell for all the photographers out there.

  • 1) ‘Heuristic’ is the best and only learning method for photography.
    2) Film is to digital as acoustic is to electric
    3) Don’t read photo ‘tips’ on blogs; directly study/learn from the published (physical) masters. Read their biographies, interviews etc, avoid ‘Flickr expertise’ and ‘pro bloggers’.

    R

  • Mike

    of all the things on this list I can’t help but disagree with the following vehemently

    “Learn Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO first. Stay on Manual. Shoot Raw.” – Alfredo Avila
    “Don’t Buy the Kit Lens!” – Shari Schoeman

    The first imply that no mater what you do you can never take good photo’s in anything other than Manual. Great things come from all three Av/Tv/B modes and to say otherwise makes you look like a fool.

    The second is shear ignorance. Yes the kit lens is not the creates lens in the world. Its generally slow and and not that good, yet people are still able to do amazing things with a kit lens. I mean seriously you’ve got to have some pretty big balls to tell a Leica owner with a kit lens that they have a crappy kit lens.

  • ssej

    “It’s not the camera” a friend kept telling me, until he got his first 1ds.

  • Ranmali Kirinde

    I think these are great tips

    One more I would like to add which I found to be quite useful is think before you shoot. When you see something that you want to capture, don’t start clicking immediately. Think about how you are going to compose the shot before clicking.

  • Chris

    “The master photographers from 50-100 years ago didn’t have anything as fancy as you are holding in your hot little paws”

    But they would have killed for it and produced better results with it….equipment does matter. Research and buy carefully. Know what you want to do.
    Glue you setting button to manual and take lots of shots every day.

  • Get out of AUTO Mode… However I have found that taking a shot or 3 IN AUTO, examining them on the EXIF setting of your camera. See what the cameras’ onboard system chose to use, then switch to Av, Tv or manual and tweek those settings to see waht you get. In almost all cases I find my adjusted settings shot is much better tehan the one shot in auto..

  • deeprock

    A Leica kit lens? Seriously? That’s pretty funny…

    Buy the best equipment you can afford. If all you have is a cheap point and shoot, then learn composition and don’t worry too much about anything else. If you are buying your first DSLR, get the body and a 50mm 1.8 (or a 1.4 if its within your budget) instead of the kit lens. This does not mean that you can’t take good pictures with a kit lens, but you will outgrow the cheap lens; it will become a limiting factor. You will never outgrow a 50mm 1.4.
    Shoot RAW, convert to DNG, get lightroom, learn workflow
    Shoot primarily in manual mode so you can learn to creatively manipulate shutter speed and aperture; if you only shoot in auto you’ll learn very little.
    I would advise against using auto ISO–there are 3 ways to control exposure: shutter, aperture and ISO. Why would you want to give up control of 1/3 of the methods?
    Never ever ever use the built in flash (assuming you already have a DSLR and shoe mount flash) If its too much trouble, too cumbersome or too heavy to always have your flash mounted to camera…find another hobby. Flash is not just for night time or indoor shooting!
    Get the flash off your camera, modify the light (e.g. gary fong)
    When people start asking (on those very rare occasion when you leave your camera behind,) “where’s your camera?” then you can call yourself a “photographer” Prior to that happening, people will be asking, “why are you always taking pictures? 😉
    Learn from those who came before; don’t be afraid to break the rules, but only after you’ve first learned them!

    and that’s what I have to offer this morning…

  • Navin

    Beautiful Compilation of tips and thoughts, although they look more like afterthoughts. I loved the tip Seven.

  • Tom

    Two thoughts: if you don’t have a foreground, you don’t have a landscape, and, learn to use the camera properly that you own.
    I mostly shoot landscape in aperture priority with a wide lens, often close to the ground to suck in the foreground.

  • Mike

    A lot of the “this they wish they knew” are idiotic. Things like “a 50mm F1.8 will change your life” are cliched and borderline moronic. As well, “use raw,” “shoot manual,” and “learn aperture, shutter speed, and iso” are the types of things that turn new photographers right off. People would be surprised to know that many, many very well known professionals are not actually that good with the technology side of photography and most use auto settings. The faster you can take a picture, the more pictures you can take. The more pictures you take, the quicker you get good. etc etc etc. My advice would be “find your own path, the rest will fall in place.”

Some Older Comments

  • Mike April 10, 2012 10:16 am

    A lot of the "this they wish they knew" are idiotic. Things like "a 50mm F1.8 will change your life" are cliched and borderline moronic. As well, "use raw," "shoot manual," and "learn aperture, shutter speed, and iso" are the types of things that turn new photographers right off. People would be surprised to know that many, many very well known professionals are not actually that good with the technology side of photography and most use auto settings. The faster you can take a picture, the more pictures you can take. The more pictures you take, the quicker you get good. etc etc etc. My advice would be "find your own path, the rest will fall in place."

  • Tom January 1, 2012 11:28 am

    Two thoughts: if you don't have a foreground, you don't have a landscape, and, learn to use the camera properly that you own.
    I mostly shoot landscape in aperture priority with a wide lens, often close to the ground to suck in the foreground.

  • Navin December 6, 2011 08:29 pm

    Beautiful Compilation of tips and thoughts, although they look more like afterthoughts. I loved the tip Seven.

  • deeprock November 26, 2011 04:28 am

    A Leica kit lens? Seriously? That's pretty funny...

    Buy the best equipment you can afford. If all you have is a cheap point and shoot, then learn composition and don't worry too much about anything else. If you are buying your first DSLR, get the body and a 50mm 1.8 (or a 1.4 if its within your budget) instead of the kit lens. This does not mean that you can't take good pictures with a kit lens, but you will outgrow the cheap lens; it will become a limiting factor. You will never outgrow a 50mm 1.4.
    Shoot RAW, convert to DNG, get lightroom, learn workflow
    Shoot primarily in manual mode so you can learn to creatively manipulate shutter speed and aperture; if you only shoot in auto you'll learn very little.
    I would advise against using auto ISO--there are 3 ways to control exposure: shutter, aperture and ISO. Why would you want to give up control of 1/3 of the methods?
    Never ever ever use the built in flash (assuming you already have a DSLR and shoe mount flash) If its too much trouble, too cumbersome or too heavy to always have your flash mounted to camera...find another hobby. Flash is not just for night time or indoor shooting!
    Get the flash off your camera, modify the light (e.g. gary fong)
    When people start asking (on those very rare occasion when you leave your camera behind,) "where's your camera?" then you can call yourself a "photographer" Prior to that happening, people will be asking, "why are you always taking pictures? ;)
    Learn from those who came before; don't be afraid to break the rules, but only after you've first learned them!

    and that's what I have to offer this morning...

  • Sandy Rose November 25, 2011 11:38 pm

    Get out of AUTO Mode... However I have found that taking a shot or 3 IN AUTO, examining them on the EXIF setting of your camera. See what the cameras' onboard system chose to use, then switch to Av, Tv or manual and tweek those settings to see waht you get. In almost all cases I find my adjusted settings shot is much better tehan the one shot in auto..

  • Chris November 25, 2011 11:38 pm

    "The master photographers from 50-100 years ago didn’t have anything as fancy as you are holding in your hot little paws"

    But they would have killed for it and produced better results with it....equipment does matter. Research and buy carefully. Know what you want to do.
    Glue you setting button to manual and take lots of shots every day.

  • Ranmali Kirinde November 25, 2011 05:43 pm

    I think these are great tips

    One more I would like to add which I found to be quite useful is think before you shoot. When you see something that you want to capture, don't start clicking immediately. Think about how you are going to compose the shot before clicking.

  • ssej November 25, 2011 04:59 pm

    "It's not the camera" a friend kept telling me, until he got his first 1ds.

  • Mike November 25, 2011 02:55 pm

    of all the things on this list I can't help but disagree with the following vehemently

    “Learn Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO first. Stay on Manual. Shoot Raw.” – Alfredo Avila
    “Don’t Buy the Kit Lens!” – Shari Schoeman

    The first imply that no mater what you do you can never take good photo's in anything other than Manual. Great things come from all three Av/Tv/B modes and to say otherwise makes you look like a fool.

    The second is shear ignorance. Yes the kit lens is not the creates lens in the world. Its generally slow and and not that good, yet people are still able to do amazing things with a kit lens. I mean seriously you've got to have some pretty big balls to tell a Leica owner with a kit lens that they have a crappy kit lens.

  • Reuben November 25, 2011 02:30 pm

    1) 'Heuristic' is the best and only learning method for photography.
    2) Film is to digital as acoustic is to electric
    3) Don't read photo 'tips' on blogs; directly study/learn from the published (physical) masters. Read their biographies, interviews etc, avoid 'Flickr expertise' and 'pro bloggers'.

    R

  • Hamza November 24, 2011 08:08 pm

    Wow! I think these thoughts are like a school in a nut shell for all the photographers out there.

  • Naz November 23, 2011 03:55 am

    I wish I had known the secrets that professionals know but are loathe to divulge- such as using the golden mean as a compositional tool- Ran across a website that shows how the master photographers didn't sim ply just pick up a camera and start clicking away hoping to one day just 'get it'- they studied hard, learned their craft, learned compositional rules, and use it in their photography Henri Cartier Bresson, one of them ost successful photographers, used it extensively- and it shows when you know what to look for- Bresson didn't just go to a site and click away hoping for a 'hAppy accident' composiution-wise- He worked a scene- and he worked it hard- moving just milimeters at times, in order to get the composition perfect- He went to scenes and took 'pre shots' in order to study the compoisition, and hten would wait for hours sometimes for subjects to be in the right spots before clicking hte shuitter button-

    Pablo picaso at age 13 knew more about composition than a lot of would be artists because he studied diligently and put in a lot of hard work thinking about composition before just applying paint to canvas- Van Gogh and many many other great artists also knew the geometric compositions such as golden rule, golden mean, golden spiral, baroque diagonals, sinister diagonals etc, and they baqsed their art on these truths- Nature conforms to these geometric truths as well, and our minds crave order and cohesive harmonies-

    Anyways- I wish i had known this truth about hte arts many years ago- would have saved me a ton of frustration and I wouldn't have wasted so many years spinning my wheels, clicking away, hoping that one day somehting would juyst 'click' and I'd all of a suddend 'get it' and udnerstand good compiosition- You MUST learn the rules before you will ever learn what to look for

  • TNH November 22, 2011 12:53 pm

    On photography forums (and in real life), don't get too discouraged when the Critiques just 'tear you down.' Don't let a strange person (who you've never met before!) on the internet let you lower your view of yourself! Follow your photography dreams, and while the critiques can be VERY helpful, don't take their personal opinions as facts. They're just people with their own opinions, like you are! One person may come along and say that your work is terrible, but the next may come by and say that it's fantastic.
    So DO NOT quit because someone is hard on you! Use their criticism to learn how to do better, even if they hurt your feelings a little.

    So all in all, the critiques in life can be helpful or hurtful, but don't let them change who YOU are as a photographer.

    That is some advice that I wish I'd known when I first started photography! :)

  • Sushant November 22, 2011 02:16 am

    Priceless 'Photography Commandments' !

  • fuzzle47 November 21, 2011 01:50 am

    @ Richard, who said: "ALWAYS check the settings on your camera before clicking away. a couple of times i got great pics only to realize later i had left the white balance in a wrong setting or my last round was in lower light and i go out the next morning shooting sunrise in ISO 1600. took quite a few before i reviewed any and GEH!!!!"

    Been there. Done that! Auto-focus can be particularly dangerous. I hate taking a picture of two friends talking, with the spot-meter focused between their faces on the horizon several miles away!

  • Richard November 21, 2011 01:11 am

    I agree with so much here, as i learned a lot of it FROM this great site. A lot of this advice you will use in stages. As a new photographer: don't spent 10 grand on equipment. it's like buying your 12-year old Eddie Van Halen's guitar rig. recognize a good picture in yr head before you turn your camera on. get good with the recognition and framing of a picture (think like a painter) and you will only have 20 throw away shots instead of a hundred.
    I am just now getting into shooting manual. doing so early was too frustrating and took my mind off my goal. wait until the other stuff is easy and add the manual settings. and ALWAYS check the settings on your camera before clicking away. a couple of times i got great pics only to realize later i had left the white balance in a wrong setting or my last round was in lower light and i go out the next morning shooting sunrise in ISO 1600. took quite a few before i reviewed any and GEH!!!!

  • khushi solanki November 20, 2011 04:53 pm

    hi
    many thanks for doing this work for me (us)
    i am sure i will take the tips more seriously
    keep up your good work
    cheers
    khushi solanki

  • Matthew Bailey November 20, 2011 07:56 am

    99% of photography is composition. It doesn't matter what you shoot it with if it isn't compelling visually. An L lens can't make something interesting. They do make it clearer, but not more interesting.

  • Pablo November 20, 2011 01:57 am

    I haven't read all he comments beyond the 21 so forgive me if I'm repetitious but I agree with the first tip, "You can't please everyone!". I think photography is an art and artists rarely follow the rules. It's a way to express how you view the world. I've learned to appreciate the "purist" as well as the skilled "photoshopper" . Experiment, find your niche...If you like it, chances are someone else will.

  • Glen November 19, 2011 03:35 pm

    at the end of the day, a great picture is a great picture..a good photographer will produce a good image regardless of equipment (still debatable)...what matters is the final product..if you show a bad image to someone, he will not tell you "what a crappy image you got, but i like it because you used the best camera and lens, shoot in full manual with low iso, did not use photoshop, etc.."

    the best advice would be: the best equipment is the one you have right now so get out, shoot, practice and be consistent..

  • avacreates November 19, 2011 01:54 pm

    Hi Darren,
    I haven't been on the site for a while - I've been quite ill, however, today, I logged into DPS and already feel better. DPS has given me something to look forward to. The information and input from members is awesome.

    The first thing I want to say is in response to Barry Goldstein who advices against buying kit lenses. I couldn't afford anything better and I have to say, I am not entirely unhappy that I took the 'kit lens' deal with my camera because I've had so much fun. I'm new to DSLR, so having these lenses has given me the opportunity to LEARN and CREATE and after all its all about Composition first and the Exposure Triangle. Of course, had I had the finances to buy better lenses, I would deffinately have taken Barry's advice.

    The other thing I'd like to say is that 'Not knowing all the Rules' has been an awesome gift for me because I have photos that I wouldn't have if I had known the rules and stuck to them. My advice to beginners is to 'PLAY, PLAY, PLAY' with all the settings and then learn the rules.

    AVA

  • Gary November 19, 2011 12:33 pm

    If it moves, think shutter, if it doesn't move, think aperture and always keep ISO low

  • Paul November 18, 2011 10:47 pm

    All good advice, which seems to have provoked some debate? Interesting.....

  • nratt November 18, 2011 04:58 pm

    If it doesn't belong, keep it out of the frame.

  • Sunseeker November 18, 2011 11:10 am

    Buy the best lens when you can. A $2500 lens will last you at least 10 years ($250) per year. This takes away all the wondering about your gear and lets you get on with being the best you can.

  • Barry Goldstein November 18, 2011 09:31 am

    The most useful and frequently used lens I own is the 18-70mm kit lens that I got with my first DSLR and still use with my D300. It is fast focusing and very sharp which contradicts tip #3 “Don’t Buy the Kit Lens!” as well as tip #6 “Don’t think you need the best camera or equipment. You only need inspiration and a dream”

  • fuzzle47 November 18, 2011 09:13 am

    Mathilda, I completely agree with you re. snapping "wildly" (a tripod is a wonderful cure for that). At the same time, however, one of my biggest gripes is somebody -- and there are too many of these "somebodies" -- who insist on parading out the whole 300 images when only 1 is visually compelling. I'm thinking that the original suggestion by Matthew Rubel might have had more to do with being critically selective about what one exhibits rather than a recommendation that one "shoot from the hip".

  • Mathilda November 18, 2011 08:27 am

    Shoot 300 photos to get only one that is worth showing? I don't agree. Think about what you're photographing before wildly pressing the shutter release. Give a chimp an automatic camera and I guarantee that if he shoots randomly for 300 shots, he'll get a good one.

    In the days when people used film cameras, they had to be more selective about what they were spending their hard earned film money on. Treat the digital the same way!

  • Chris November 18, 2011 07:46 am

    I also agree with Photomiser. I have gone through many cameras and lenses over the years - some considered professional, some strictly consumer. My favorite right now is a lowly Olympus E-420 with the kit zoom lens. It is small enough to take everywhere, has more features than I will ever use and if I drop it off a cliff I'm not out thousands of dollars. The bottom line is that if you can't take great shots with a cheap camera, an expensive one won't make any difference. And once you learn to take great shots with the cheap one, why bother with the expensive one? I would rather spend my money seeing the world with my $400 kit than staying at home with a $2,000+ monster.

  • Brandy November 18, 2011 06:13 am

    When I was first learning, I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming where there were many very good photographers. I wanted to learn things from these people where ever, and when ever I came across them. I'm not a shy person, and wouldn't hesitate to ask questions. However, many of them would not share their knowledge, seeing me as a threat to their potential income from their art. It hurt my feelings that they wouldn't share. I've never forgotten that, and I see it as a joy when someone ask\s me questions , And I'm happy that someone else is finding the same love I have for photography, and I always share what ever I can! I wish I had KNOWN, that some day I would be as good as many of the people who had refused me!

  • Reg Johnson November 18, 2011 06:07 am

    I just wish I had seen the quote made by Elliott Erwitt earlier in my life that states;-
    Some times you fish and don't get a bite
    Some time you think you caught a fish but haven't
    Some times you catch a small one
    Some times a bigger one
    Mostly 'CRAP'

  • fuzzle47 November 18, 2011 05:58 am

    Certainly not intended for photographers, but good advice nevertheless:
    "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take." Wayne Gretzky

  • Marco November 18, 2011 04:58 am

    The main use I had for my kit lens was to help me sell my first camera! When I upgraded and bought a camera body only, I sold the Canon XSi with kit lens to help pay for the new camera and the kit lens was a good selling point. Heck it was almost brand new with only a dozen shots or so taken before I bought the L series lens with similar focal range. Buy good lenses!!!! They are worth their weight in gold and are really heavy!!!

  • Marco November 18, 2011 04:51 am

    I am amazed that no one quoted Ansel Adams on this. My favorite is when he said that twelve great shots in a year makes for a good year. You know he took hundreds as he worked full time each year, but so many were never shown!!!

  • Salem November 18, 2011 04:35 am

    Manual Focus all the time...
    when i fix my eye to the viewfinder I would rather worry about the composition rather than moving my head around like an idiot trying to lock the auto-focus.

  • Warren November 18, 2011 03:37 am

    I never let my camera select ISO. I never shoot anything above 400. I hate noise and grain.

    You have to learn about shutter, aperture and ISO. Program mode is great to start but you still need to understand the fundamentals of how to control the light. They have very different effects.

    Prime lenses are awesome, they really are, but a kit lens will still do the job.

  • Alignm2 November 17, 2011 02:51 pm

    Take photography courses from people and institutions you respect and like. Don't sign up for courses just because they easy, convenient or cheap - look for quality. You cannot aways take the easy road.
    Learn to take compliments and criticisms from people you respect and learn to ignore them from people you do not.
    Find a mentor and suck her/his brain dry!
    Find a muse and ride its wave!

  • Wildwoollyphotos November 17, 2011 02:15 pm

    Buy the lens you can afford and then get off the couch!

  • Scott Grissom November 17, 2011 03:03 am

    I agree with photomiser, if you are any type of photographer you can take great images with any lens. How did people do it 50-60 years ago with such inferior equipment? Composition! They knew how to frame a shot and had the patience to wait for the perfect moment. You don't think Ansel Adams just stumbled upon those locations, do you? No he scouted the locations and then researched the different times of the day and then took multiple shots just to get the perfect one. It has nothing to do with the camera or the lens, it has everything to do with the person pushing the button.

  • JofK November 16, 2011 06:51 pm

    Don't be afraid of using flashes. Off-camera flashes are your best friend - don't just search for the light, learn to create it!

  • photomiser November 16, 2011 04:02 pm

    Why all the hate for "kit lenses?" Is photography about equipment, or isn't it? You can take a good picture with a hole in a box if you know how to compose. Surely you can work with a kit lens if you are truly a photographer!

  • Kaylene Morgan Pinkham November 16, 2011 09:02 am

    Cool, I got a tip featured here! These are great.

  • JRSerrano November 16, 2011 09:01 am

    Patience..... Visualize.... Compose...Capture this is the art of photography. it's all about lightning to create .....

  • Christi Nielsen November 16, 2011 05:20 am

    My 2 favs -
    Don't buy the kit lens.
    Take a film class.

  • Bekah November 16, 2011 04:27 am

    Love #11. so much.
    Editing isn't everything.

  • Heather Clemons November 16, 2011 03:31 am

    This. Is. Perfect.

    I'm pretty sure that the one thing most people NEED to know about photography (and any other art form for that matter) is -

    Be patient. It takes time. You can't pick up a guitar your first time and be a virtuoso.
    Your camera is your instrument. Practice every day and take your time.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Darren!

  • Timberswiss3 November 16, 2011 01:52 am

    I think the "shoot manual" advice is cliche and missing something. Here is the revised version "shoot manual when you have the time to learn it, but shoot program or even auto if it is a moment that must be captured right then and there." no sense in losing a good image just because of some cliche advice. What matters is the image, not how you got it. For beginners better control will come later on.

  • Moise Levi November 16, 2011 01:16 am

    Thanks to photography, I actually started to look at my surroundings all the time, before, I just walked and looked straight forward ....

  • Jenny November 16, 2011 01:01 am

    These are AWESOME tips and thanks for the plug for your FB page - didn't know y'all had one.

    I'm still only 1 year in... so I think my biggest learning lesson this year has been "Mistakes are your friend, not your enemy."

    and

    "Get over yourself. You won't be a professional photographer in a year."

  • Miguel November 16, 2011 12:17 am

    Set your Nikon camera on Auto ISO and use manual exposure to get the exact mix of shutter speed and f/stop you want. Let the camera select the necessary ISO.

  • Peter Garner November 15, 2011 11:19 pm

    Don't stifle your audience by believing that they're all on Facebook: it's a great way to miss out on some great comments/advice/tips!

  • Peter Garner November 15, 2011 11:17 pm

    Take your camera and ONE prime lens on vacation for a week to teach yourself the art of composition.

  • Chris November 15, 2011 09:31 pm

    Disagree wholeheartedly with above stament. Photography is about making art, and to make art, the artist must control what the art will be. Shutter and aperture BOTH have much bearing on what the final image will look like. And to ever be a great photographer, a person much be a master of light. To ever master light, a person must know how light works. To know how light works, one must knoe aperture, shutter, and ISO. There are no shortcuts. Program mode leads only to mediocraty. To quote Yoda: "If you chose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil." Great pictures don't happen by accident, and they don't happen because of ignorance. For people to lazy to learn these settings, my advice would be to either enjoy the pictures of eithers and use only a point and shoot for family snapshots, or to end their slumber and LEARN! That's what this website is for! :)

    For those having trouble with aperture, get an old manual only lens, like an m42, and adapt it to your Canon. If using Nikon, legacy lenses are plentifully available. Ignorance will never improve your photography! Get out and grow!

  • Robert November 15, 2011 09:03 pm

    Tip number 2 is exactly the opposite of what I would have recommended, a recipe for making a learning photographer run for the hills I would say. Learn to create great images on a camera where ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture are minimally controllable, and forget all about RAW which forces you to post process - concentrate on seeing a good picture first, the techy geek stuff can come later if you need it . And stay on Manual? Avoid full auto perhaps, but Program is a fine mode for anyone and Manual is only 'better' when coupled with an off camera light meter.

    So Tip number 1 must be the best :)

  • Erik Kerstenbeck November 15, 2011 05:55 pm

    Hi

    The 10,000 hr rule applies to most anything. The more time one dedicates to a skill, the better that skill will become (kinda obvious, eh?). I try to shoot every day. When things get easy, I try something new and fail, then learn, correct and perfect.

    For example, how NOT to light a Model! Monster vs Marvelous!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/monster-lighting/

  • oliverignacio November 15, 2011 03:41 pm

    Don't buy the kitlens? I say buy it! (if your still a noob)

  • Penny November 15, 2011 03:07 pm

    Tip #10 has always been my habit whenever I go out the house for a trip. Great read Darren, as always - very useful for our fellow camera junkies :)

  • ISOterica November 15, 2011 02:52 pm

    It's easy to fall in love with a camera and what you can do with one but you must always remember that the love affair is between you and the camera. Don't let failed competitions, lack of photographic sales or publications into your relationship with your camera. These interlopers will most certainly try to destroy your love affair if they can. Always remember.. your photography first and foremost is about your enjoyment of it. If others appreciate your love [or you actually earn awards/money off it] then wonderful but if that doesn't happen, don't let it break your heart and separate you from your camera. Keep on shooting.

  • Phil November 15, 2011 02:21 pm

    I believe the tip from Karen was actually 4 distinct tips so each of them actually fit within the limit. My best tip? When in doubt, shoot first, ask questions later.

  • Jon Welling November 15, 2011 02:11 pm

    I wish someone would have taught me how to "see" before I picked up my camera. Thankfully I'm a lunatic anyway...

  • ccting November 15, 2011 01:34 pm

    Buy a AI robotic len and camera that do the photography job for you ;D

  • Adam Tillman November 15, 2011 01:28 pm

    While learning to compose and shoot, take the time to buy a cheap pen tablet and learn basic editing techniques with Gimp or PhotoShop...it really helps to show how subjects in the frame interact with each other vs the fore or background. The benefit is that if you learn how to edit a photo to make it look real, you'll know what should've been there in the first place and can apply that to your next shot.

  • Marlon Briones November 15, 2011 12:35 pm

    your camera will always stay in the middle between you and creativity.
    it set the boundaries but it doen't limit imagination.
    explore what you knew work around it and add capabilities as you go on
    did great shoots with MANUAL or P and don't bother what A-DEP for.
    learn on your own but help would be great.

  • Miguel Reznicek November 15, 2011 11:58 am

    I'm surprised this was not included: The most bang for your buck in photography is taking a workshop at Santa Fe workshops. Your photo life will never be the same.

  • Chris November 15, 2011 11:48 am

    Get good lenses ASAP. Learn your lenses. Know all their strengths and weaknesses. Know where they are sharp and where they are not. If they are sooms, know exactly how they behave at all focal lengths.

    Have few zooms. Have mostly primes. Know what the prime sees. Be able to look at a scene and know what the framing will be with your primes.

  • Scott MC November 15, 2011 11:30 am

    Cool! This is cloud-photography at its best!

  • Johnny kyle November 15, 2011 11:01 am

    I wish I'd known it was so addictive!

  • sumit November 15, 2011 10:54 am

    - that it would change the way I see. :)

    on a serious note
    - you can't capture everything
    - its important to get it wrong - that's the learning curve
    - break the boundaries - the self imposed ones - experiment, get it wrong, learn, fiddle, get it right, study
    - study the masters, don't copy rather evaluate and question - photography is as much an art as it is a science
    - understand the basics - keep revisiting them - aperture, shutter, iso
    - know your camera - its your best friend

  • Maximo Almonte November 15, 2011 08:24 am

    Having a trained eye for composition before grabbing the camera.

  • Dr. Bob November 15, 2011 08:18 am

    Where can I hit the 'Like button' for peter krahulik's post?

  • Peter Krahulik November 15, 2011 08:11 am

    Photography is all about beauty:

    1. Look for it.
    2. Recognize it.
    3. Admire it.
    4. Capture it.
    5. Share it.

    And don't forget to have fun!

    (BTW: As you see, you really need the camera for only 20 percent of the whole fun.)

  • John November 15, 2011 07:13 am

    These are all amazing tips. That last quote that's a little closer to 100 words is profound and definitely worthy of being included. Seeing the world as a painter, or even becoming an amateur painter/drawer can really help you learn how to compose shots in a way that you may otherwise not have noticed or cared to even see before.

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