If I were to start photography today, I often wonder what advice I would give myself. When I first started photography, information on the subject was convoluted and where a teacher started for beginners was different. Or professionals made it seem like there was some secret to taking great photos.
1. Spending Money On Camera Equipment
The first piece of advice I would give is forgoing spending a lot of money on equipment. What you have will work, especially while you are learning to perfect your style and vision.
As a photographer myself, what you need is a style and a niche, not more equipment. Asking a photographer what type of camera they use and what lens is irrelevant. Camera equipment does not make you a good photographer, vision and focus do.
Photographers need to have a vision for their work. What do you want your work to eventually look like? How do you want your photographers to feel to the viewer? What message do you want them to take away from your work? Once you have answered those questions, work towards obtaining that vision.
I spent too much time thinking I needed to be a family or wedding photographer and buying all the equipment for it. I bought camera equipment without thinking if this is the type of work I wanted to do. It took me five years to figure out that wedding and family photography is not what I wanted to do.
I did learn that used equipment is just like buying new, especially from sellers like B&H photo, who often sold their model cameras. So if you are going to spend the money on equipment, buy used until you are making enough money as a professional to buy what you want. (Being the money-conscious person I am, I still purchase used equipment.)
2. Be Intentional with Your Photos
My second piece of advice is to take pictures regularly and lots of them. Be intentional about the subject of your photographs. However, taking 10,000 photos for the sake of taking a lot of photos won't help you have a clear focus.
Start by taking your camera everywhere with you. Take pictures of anything that inspires you.
Be intentional about your shot and think about what subject you want to focus on. Take your time, follow compositional rules, learn the exposure triangle, and focus on the story you want to tell the viewer with your photo.
As you take more photographs, these factors will start to come naturally to you. You’ll think about exposure and your camera settings less and less.
Once you have the basics, you can start experimenting and find your style. Style only comes through doing the work and finding out what you like and do not like in your photos.
3. Go With Your Gut
Talking about style leads me to my third piece of advice, go with your gut. I listened to too many people at the beginning of my photography journey. I took in too much advice and information, which led me astray from my taste.
I’m not saying make whatever weird photos you want to - of course, you can, but those are for only you - you need to find a balance between what you like and what your viewer likes. There is a difference between constructive criticism of your photos and people who don’t understand what you are trying to do.
Listen to the positive feedback, ignore the information that doesn’t further your goal. Don't listen to people who don't understand what you are trying to do. It will only bring you down.
4. Investing in Yourself
Investing in education is essential to keeping up with the latest in photography techniques and trends. If you invest in photography education, do what the instructors say, invest in people only you trust, and don’t let your ego get in the way.
Invest in people only you like. Don’t get bogged down with what’s popular, especially if you get an icky, salesy feeling from them. Buy courses from people you connect with and mesh with your learning style.
Too many times I spent way too much money on a course from a teacher I didn’t like because everyone else was raving about it. Most of the time I didn’t need the course or didn’t fully engage in it. Invest in people you feel comfortable with and do exactly what the instructor is telling you to do.
Often, I would tell myself I don’t have to do it that way because I’m this or that. Wrong. Every time I did tell myself those things I never succeeded in business or the technique I was trying to learn. I thought I was better than that. Somehow I was going to be an exemption. Wrong again. Don’t be like me. Your teachers got where they did for a reason. They are giving you information. Take the shortcut.
In essence, this post is my shortcut for you.
If you’re an experienced photographer, what would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
There's not much to say around this time of year because we are all so busy.
So happy holidays from our family to yours!
Below are pictures taken by the fabulous UvVisions Photography.
You picked up a camera for a reason. You had seen a photo that inspired you to pick up a camera. The photo made you feel that you wanted to learn more about photography. So you bought yourself a camera and began this journey into creativity. But now you feel stagnant, like your photography is not improving to the level of quality you saw in that first picture.
What you need is direction, some specific task to work on. Therefore, every year I create a photo bucket list.
If you want to be like the photographer who took that photo that first inspired you, continue learning. No one ever masters photography. It’s a process that’s constantly evolving.
Writing a list of techniques you want to learn will help you focus and improve how you think about making photos.
However, before you can move forward, look back at what you have already learned. What did you accomplish this year? What techniques have you already mastered that you can build on?
Maybe you want to improve your landscapes. Look over your photos of landscapes and ask yourself how can I make this better?
Or maybe you are already past that stage and looking for your photographic style in outdoor photography.
Always keep in mind what the current climate of society is when planning your bucket list for 2021. International travel might not be workable in the next year. So what can you do, close to home, while still achieving your list?
I like to create bucket lists instead of goals. Goals sound so boring and if you don’t achieve them you become disappointed with a bucket list, your ideas don’t seem so daunting.
Also, bucket lists don’t have to be long. The list only has to be a few points that you really want to perfect.
So go out in 2021 with some motivation and happiness. Make photography your cheerful place in this insane world.
Need some ideas for your bucket list? Take a peek at mine below.
My 2021 Photo Bucket List:
1. Learn and Play with Neutral Density Filters
This year I really want to try a neutral density filter on landscapes with water. It’s a technique I have always wanted to learn, and there is no time better than the present. Don’t know what neutral density filters are? Look at these examples.
2. Morning Forest Light
I want to spend more of my life in local forests capturing early morning sunbeams through the trees. It just seems like a good way to wake up in the morning.
3. Creative Self Portrait in Nature
Like most people, I don’t really enjoy having my picture taken, but as a part of a business, brand or whatever, others like to know who is behind the camera. There’s no better portrait than in a place you love!
4. Get my Work Into Local Galleries
Last year I had my first gallery show. I loved every minute of the process. I thought 2020 was going to be my year to get my work on more walls. Of course, that didn’t happen. So we’ll see how 2021 goes.
Ask yourself, “What do I really want to achieve with my photography?” Write it down, tell it to the world (for accountability) and go for it! I know you can do it.
Concentrating on a few things in a long timeframe will build your skills. You’ll become an expert in your area in no time.
So go make a bucket list and let me know some things from the list in the comments below.
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I am in the middle of a nature photo challenge with other photographers. It's for 45 days. You can join by going to my profile on Insta and typing #kellyssimplenature to get featured on my stories.
This last week I was really into capturing the last remnants of fall hanging tightly onto the trees. The sunlight in the morning has been magical making the leaves glow like fire. Below are my favorites.
Also many of my challenge photos are now available in my shop.
A couple of weeks ago I started a new series called "simple nature" and a 45 day challenge to go along with it. Below is an overview from the first week. Would love to know what you think?
If you'd like to join the challenge follow me on Instagram for the latest updates.