6 Things I wish I'd Been Told When First Starting Out In Photography


Since first starting photography, I have spent so much time and money investing in my photography and equipment. A part of it was for fun and because I like shiny new things. Who doesn’t? But it was also to fill a void of the unknown and uncertainty of what I was doing. A year and a half has passed since first starting photography professionally, before that it had been a hobby since I was a kid.

6 Things I wish I'd Been Told When First Starting Out In Photography

1. Lighting Equipment

You don’t need lots of lighting equipment if you don’t want to use it. Your talent will shine and grow in other ways should you choose this path of finding the light yourself rather than relying on lighting you can control.

2. Curate your stories, show the world what you see

Photography is about translating the way YOU see the world and bring YOUR imagination to life. It seems like an obvious statement, however I have spent (and honestly still do spend) way too much time trying to mimic other photographers, thinking that I wanted to be like them, edit like them, shoot like them, have the same cameras etc... but I would never be happy with the results. I finally understand it is because I have just tried to mimic the way they view the world which has nothing to do with me and is not how I see it. Especially as my emotions are not attached to their style. So no matter how much my editing or composition or the light is spot on, I was never happy for this very reason. Photography is more than a visual thing, it converts your feeling, emotion, nostalgia, imagination, past experiences, inspirations, favourite colours etc to an image, a single frame.

3. Knowing when to give up

A bad photo can't be saved no matter how much editing you do, so give up and cut your losses then learn from your mistakes. This is why it is so important to understand the elements of design (see #6), such as lighting, colour, composition etc.

4. Editing

Editing is not the be all and end all. In fact, I have realised over time that the more time I spend editing, the less happy I am with the photo. This is purely my personality and design choice. Knowing why I do the photography I do - which is to capture and preserve moments forever, the images have to fall under a variation of these categories: instant, barely touched/natural (more to save time and remain authentic), nostalgic, simple, imperfect, real yet theatrical, relatable yet immersive.

5. Camera Gear

You do not need expensive camera gear. You do, however need to know about…

6. Elements of Design

You need to have an understanding of the basic elements of design as this will greatly increase your understanding of the world and environment, and how you see things and then translate them into your photography. This is a great tool and visual diagram of the design elements to help you understand. I learnt the hard way... and in an embarrassing way which I will share another time.) I highly recommend a book called Ways of Seeing by John Berger if you want to improve the way you see vs just merely looking. Once you know these, then you can break the rules and make new ones, or alter these. Knowing this, you can take great photos with any type of point and shoot; a Polaroid, a DSLR, a Film camera, an iPhone/iPad.

The honest truth

I have to be honest here… I wouldn’t be who I am today and wouldn't have learnt what I know today, without making the mistakes myself, however, perhaps I could have cut some corners and saved some money and time if someone had told me the above. This is simply a guide from which you can take as little or as much as you’d like and apply to your own lifestyle and photography work.

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