101 things I have learnt about photography in 4 years.

birds eye view of AB Watson's desk

It has been 4 years since I decided to pick up the camera and make photography my soul living. I have succeeded and failed at many parts on my journey in the business of photography. I’ve made this list for you. To share the lessons I’ve learned, and if at all possible shed some light on aspects that many people overlook.

Remember to take everything on this list with a grain of salt. My journey will be different from yours, and we all need to find our own path. I hope you find these 101 tips and guides helpful.

  1. It’s not about gear.
  2. If you don’t try and fail your not learning.
  3. Just because you’re talented doesn’t mean you’ll be successful.
  4. No matter how much you write or talk about photography, you’ll learn more practising photography.
  5. Learning light is everything.
  6. Once the technique is second nature to you, you’ll be truly free to push your photography.
  7. Don’t ask or wait for permission, just do.
  8. Collaborating will grow your awareness and contacts.
  9. Getting eyes on your work is everything, the more eyes the better.
  10. Never pay someone to publish your work.
  11. People don’t care about the digital or film argument.
  12. Just because you have a camera doesn’t make you a professional photographer.
  13. Getting the newest camera or most expensive camera is just gear masturbation.
  14. Making photography your soul income, and living off it is hard work.
  15. I have a 1.2 aperture lens and never shoot wide open.
  16. You will not know everything, so it’s good to shut up and listen sometimes.
  17. You will learn more from a mentor than a university degree.
  18. There is a difference between doing what you love and getting paid as a photographer.
  19. Natural light is just a cheaper version of strobes, so save your money.
  20. Master one lens and one focal length.
  21. If in doubt you can always rely on the sunny 16 rule.
  22. Don’t quite your day job. Paying the rent and eating is a good thing.
  23. Photography is about people.
  24. Photos always look better when you are closer, get rid of that telephoto lens.
  25. A good photographer has a trash bin full of photos.
  26. Try everything before you decide on one thing.
  27. Learn and practice all the rules, then break them.
  28. To find yourself and a style, copy, copy, copy.
  29. If you know you have the shot, stop. Don’t take another 36 frames.
  30. The decisive moment doesn’t exist. So don’t strive for it. Just do your best.
  31. If someone else could have taken your photo, your not trying hard enough.
  32. Your best camera is the one that’s on you and works.
  33. Look at other photographers outside your genre, and look at the greats. Not people on your forum.
  34. Take everything people say with a grain of salt and do your own thing unless it’s a paying client.
  35. There is always time after a shoot to experiment.
  36. Designate time for personal development once a week.
  37. If you have a creative block, you’re to one dimensional, think outside the conventional box.
  38. Don’t take up photography to satisfy your physical desires.
  39. A camera can be a great VIP pass.
  40. If your good at something, never do it for free. Unless it’s for your mum.
  41. Education can sometimes be a waste of money if you have the internet these days.
  42. If you want to learn professional photography, assist.
  43. Never write a bad email or say anything bad about anyone.
  44. Always have a backup camera on a paid assessment.
  45. Gaffa tape will solve most of your photography needs.
  46. If you’re stuck for ideas just change perspective.
  47. Sometimes it’s good to put the camera down and look.
  48. Your either in the moment or capturing the moment.
  49. The camera is just the recording device, it’s the lens and your eye that sees.
  50. If you think you need to move cities or travel to get better subject matter, your just a lazy photographer.
  51. Manual is always better.
  52. Fix it in camera not in post production.
  53. Enter as many competitions as you can afford.
  54. High ISO makes a photo less contrasting and flat.
  55. Take all promises with a grain of salt until you are physical doing what they promised.
  56. Looking at your photos straight after taking them, doesn’t improve your photography.
  57. Photos were made to be printed.
  58. You need to learn to bit your tongue and do some bread and butter jobs.
  59. Have a personal project or passion outside of photography or it will become just another job.
  60. Keep trying, never give up.
  61. Success will come with longevity and persistence.
  62. Finding your style takes a lifetime, so what’s the hurry.
  63. A series of images will alway be stronger in telling a story than just one image.
  64. Minimalism sells.
  65. Talking can be stimulating but doing is much more productive.
  66. If an image makes the viewer feel something or provokes a reaction, then it’s a successful image.
  67. Wait for the moment to present itself. Chasing and trying to recreate is never quite the same.
  68. Do what scares you, you might surprise yourself.
  69. Use one camera for one job or project, be consistent.
  70. Having a lot of cameras can be great but you can only use one at a time.
  71. Looking at a screen is not helping your photography, go outside.
  72. I rather look at a photography book then scroll a website.
  73. Have a long term project, to give depth to your story.
  74. Scanning your negatives into the computer is kinda contradicting isn’t it analogue photographers?
  75. Who cares how you took the picture. It’s the picture that matters.
  76. Ask yourself “Is the journey or the destination, that matters?”.
  77. If people are just paying you for your gear and not your eye, understand this. Stop trying, push the button and take their money.
  78. If you’re working for free, make sue your getting what you want out of it.
  79. As soon as you work for free, they will never expect you to charge in the future.
  80. Charge for your profession. Simple people only understand value through the number of dollars it costs.
  81. If its works why change it.
  82. Your photo doesn’t always need to be sharp and in focus.
  83. There will always be someone better than you. And there will always be someone worse than you, that makes more money.
  84. Don’t forget to eat and drink water.
  85. Pay your taxes and put away more than you owe and don’t touch it.
  86. Get insurance.
  87. Always have three photo backup devices on a shoot.
  88. Presets are your friend.
  89. Take the photo, don’t think about taking the photo. Think about the photo when your editing.
  90. Charge your batteries, clear your memory cards and get all your gear ready the day before a shoot.
  91. Always have a grey card in your wallet, like your driver’s licence.
  92. If something takes more time to learn then your value, hire someone else to do it.
  93. If you don’t get your work out there or promote it, you will never get noticed.
  94. Once you get over the technic and technology of photography, you will start to develop into a true photographer rather than a technician.
  95. Stop looking at other people’s work. Critic your own work, pick the elements that you like and develop those elements. That’s how you develop your own style.
  96. You don’t need a degree but you do need an education.
  97. Use a longer shutter speed before using a higher iso.
  98. Take your time, don’t rush. Unless you’re a sports photographer.
  99. Looking at contact sheets will make you more critical in judging and selecting your work, be it film contact sheets or opened in adobe bridge.
  100. Be yourself.
  101. Have fun.