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3 Tips for Becoming a Unique and Successful Photographer

If you want to become a successful photographer, then there are a few things you absolutely must know.

That’s what you’re going to learn in this article:

Three key tips for becoming a truly masterful photographer.

successful photographer two people with bright clothing

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Will it be a fast journey? Probably not.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. If you enjoy photography, then you’ll have a ton of fun!

So if you’re ready to become a unique and successful photographer…

…then let’s get started.

Tip 1: Don’t get hung up on what you ‘should’ do

Many photographers read tutorials and watch videos. Then they try to mimic exactly what is being taught. They try to create the same photos the instructor is telling them to.

But if you learn photography this way, you’ll end up having photos that look like everyone else’s. You won’t discover a unique style of your own.

Sure, it’s good to study and learn from those who have more skill and understanding. But there is no formula for perfect photography. There is no absolutely correct way to make a picture.

Whether you’re taking a senior portrait or photographing products for a catalog, there are no hard and fast rules. There are guidelines. If you follow some of them you’ll make sharp, well-exposed photos that are well-composed. But if you try to rigidly stick to a method, you will not make creative photos.

Thai Model and Elephant

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Every scene you photograph is different. Even if you photograph the same garden or building every day, things will change. The light will be different. It may be sunny one day and raining the next. Your subject may change over time.

So you must take what you’ve learned and adapt it to the situation. Apply photography techniques that best suit your subject and the current circumstances.

Inle Lake Fishermen

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Obtain the skills and learn the rules. Know these things well, so your thoughts aren’t consumed by them each time you want to take a photograph.

But don’t apply a set of rules to your photography. Doing this may bring technically correct results. But often photography which is only technically correct is rather dull and boring.

You can find examples of very similar sets of images posted on social media and photo-sharing sites, and in all manner of ‘how to’ photography books. They all look repetitively similar because the photographer has only followed the rules.

Instead, apply your own creative thinking. Consider the rules, but don’t apply them unless they enhance your photo the way you want them to.

Tip 2: Put feeling into your photography for masterful images

If you want to be a truly great photographer, learn how to infuse your photography with feeling. Put something of yourself into your pictures.

This is what will make your photos unique. Nobody else has the same worldview you do.

This is not an easy concept for many photographers to grasp, but all you need to do is look at some of the best photos. The ones which attract you the most.

Ask yourself why you like them so much. Look at the greats. Admire the work of Irving Penn, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and the like. What is it about the way they have seen the world and photographed it that makes their photographs special?

boys in sunbeams

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Look at favorite photos you have taken. What’s special about them? Are they only technically correct, or is there more to them? Do they capture a unique moment? Do they include feeling?

Photos which embody emotion are more powerful. Capturing the moment that conveys emotion, regardless of technical considerations, often results in the most compelling photographs.

Technical imperfection can even enhance the feeling in a photograph. A moment of laughter mistakenly overexposed can add to the spirited feeling. An underexposed photo of someone feeling sad will add to the expression of their despair.

portrait of a young girl

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Here’s the bottom line:

If you can include feeling in your photos, if you can communicate something to viewers about your perspective, then you’ll be well on your way to being a truly successful photographer.

Tip 3: Study your craft and photograph often

Here’s the great thing about photography:

The more you pick up your camera, the faster you will develop as a photographer.

Your technical skills will improve, and your ability to see what makes a great photo will improve, too.

cultural abstract

I suggest you commit yourself to learning a new photography technique every month, or even every week. Get the new technique ingrained into your subconscious mind so you don’t have to concentrate on what camera settings to use. Then the settings will come to you automatically, even when you do choose to use Manual mode.

Reaching a high level of ability takes time. Like any artist, you have to start by mastering the essentials. Once you have, you will be free to express yourself.

Learning to play the piano or to dance well involves hours and hours of patient, determined practice. Photography is the same! The more you study and practice with your camera, the more expressive you will become with it. The less you have to think about the adjustments you need to make, the more focus you can give to being creative.

So engross yourself in your favorite genres of photography. Photograph often and with the desire to make improvements each time you do.

Over time your photographic skills will advance.

And, pretty soon, you’ll be a successful photographer.

Laughing Lady with umbrella

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Conclusion

I believe we are all inherently creative. We are created to be creative.

This means that every one of us has the potential to be a great photographer.

You just have to work hard at your photography.

Eventually, you’ll be creating stunning, unique photos.

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Kevin Landwer-Johan
Kevin Landwer-Johan

is a professional photographer, photography teacher, and filmmaker with over 30 years experience.

Kevin is offering DPS readers his FREE course for beginner photographers which will build your confidence in photography. You will learn how to make sense of camera settings and gain a better understanding of the importance of light in photography.
Check out Kevin’s Blog for articles with a more personal approach to photography.