Wednesday, October 22, 2014

14 things I have learned being a photographer...

I am not at the top…I’m not even skating the middle, but I have been doing this photography thing for a while, and there are some things I've learned along the way that I thought I would put out to the universe. Mainly because there were bouncing around in my head, but also? Also guys, it’s nice to put things out in the universe…so here it is.

1. It’s ok to compare…

Because it’s going to happen anyway. I don’t care if you’re a 14 year old who has just picked up a camera for the first time or if you’re freakin Annie Leibovitz, you’re always going to compare yourself and your work with other people…here’s the important part though…DON’T LET IT STOP YOU! They are them and you are you. They take those photos, and sure they’re cool, but that’s their brain, and you know what…you know what they don’t have, your brain! Your brain and imagination is full of stuff that ain't inside theirs! And lets just stop and celebrate that for a sec…

Pretty cool aye! You can’t let what there doing stop you, let it inspire you, let is spur you on…which is all great stuff man! You have to keep on the path you are on and if you keep trying you’ll start taking photos where you look at the finished project and think, yeah, I created that, I rock! And you do.

2. The one rule is…there are no rules!

And that’s the way it should be. Rules shmuuuules dude! Be that amazing creative you set out to be. Make images that make no sense but are their own being. Overexpose a shot just because the person next to you isn't and you wanna try something. When taking a portrait of a person, cut the whole bottom half of the photo and take it from the nose up, because…why not! Don’t let the man get you down…it’s why I often wonder if education is best in this field as apposed to just getting out there and doing it. Don’t let them condition you into thinking a certain way about art…because art is subjective after all, and you should do whatever you feel to make your art…that’s the cool thing about it!!

3. I am original, ok?

Yeah you are! Originality is one thing, that’s fun of course, but you need to get there, which is hard in photography…and don’t get me wrong, that doesn't mean it has to be the opposite of everything you've done thus far, or completely different to what everyone has done before you, it’s about breaking a cycle you might have known and pushing your boundaries a bit. If it’s new to you, that works.

Don’t be afraid to use ideas! It doesn't mean stealing, and it doesn't mean you’re not original. Nearly everything in photography has been done before! So if you see an image you kinda like, don’t be afraid to experiment and try something similar, it’s called being inspired! And as long as you don’t copy the image entirely, as long as you make it your own, then it isn't copying! Also, it’s furthering your knowledge and it’s allowing you to step closer, closer to the kind of images YOU want to create…and maybe next time it will be something that another person looks on and thinks, wow, that it so cool!

4. Art vs Photography.

Each to their own man. I mean, they are one in the same pretty much, you’re creating, and creating something from nothing, that’s art! BUT, I think more recently there is a more specific divide, and it’s not one where you need to pick a side, just one I wanted to explore.

More recently I notice their are photographers that follow one of two types, those that swing more towards ‘artists’, and those that one would class more as ‘photographers’, here’s what I mean.

The ‘artist’ uses the medium of photography to create stories, they also use Photoshop and other tools to manipulate reality and make it something new, something conceptual. Which, by the way, it’s effing cool.

The ‘photographer’ is someone who is inspired by real life, the moments in it and their motivation to capture what’s in front of them.

Now it could be said I dabble in both, and nearly all photographers do, but I guess on the whole I would class myself under the second definition. And like I said, I’m just exploring this idea, I am not saying it is bible, and I’m not saying one is better than the other. I think most photographers cross the lines, but I also do think they swing closer to one than the other. Which way do you swing?

5. Prostitute!

Shocked you with that one aye!

What I mean is you need to give it away for a while. You need to shoot all the god damn time, and you need to shove it in peoples face for a while. They need to know you’re serious, they need to know your name. And off the back of that, at the beginning anyway, people will probably get some awesome photos for free…cause hell, you’re just starting out.

Here’s the important part, know when to ask for the monies! Giving it away for free is ok for a while, but you’ll know when the hard work deserves to be rewarded…this is the business part, and you need to value yourself and what you do. Go forth and make money…cause after a certain point it ain't a hobby any more, it’s you’re passion…and a person that can make money from their passion, they’re the richest people in the world!

6. It’s not the camera, it’s the person behind it.

I’m going to start going over similar stuff here, but it needed to be put in black and white. The amount of times I've heard people say ‘that is a cool photo, they must have a great camera’…are you KIDDING ME! It’s not the goddamn camera, that stuff is irrelevant for the most part, that’s built on WAYS of taking a photo in the technical sense, what it’s about is how the person TOOK the photo! Your eye and your approach, that’s what matters. And in time, you’ll get to the top of the technical totem pole, but for now the camera means zilch, it’s you that’s taking it, and YOU can do wonderful things!

7. Collaborate!

You know one of the coolest things about being a photographer and artist, all the other photographers and artists. MAKE FRIENDS! Because you feel more inspired and richer for it! I have met so many amazing people through this job, and I wouldn't want it any other way!

8. Don’t listen to them!

So look at this, some stranger thinks you take too many photos of yourself, This other dude thinks you don’t do enough with colour. This douche wants to comment on the fact that you over edit your images…

Ok so constructive criticism, that’s all good, it is helpful even though sometimes it’s hard to hear, because growing as an artist is integral, and often the audience’s opinion matters. BUT NOT ALWAYS! Some people are just jerks who like to say jerky things and generally make you feel like a jerk. Well F THAT! I mean who needs that! They are sad people who sit on their computer all day trying to find things to cast their self righteous opinion on to make them feel more important and intelligent. Wanna know something? They’re none of those things. So go forth and create what YOU want to create, and if a jerk comes up and thinks they have the right and station to comment negatively on it and make you feel crappy, then let them and leave it at that. Don’t let there comments enter your universe. Imagine stepping on them, makes me feel better.

9. Spread the love.

Because at the end of the day you love photography. You love spending hours on Flickr after catching a glimpse of someones work and then literally having to go through every one of their images because, oh my god, that’s why. So share it, show them love, comment!
Here’s the thing, putting that kind of love out into the universe, you get it back. That’s not the motivation, but people can be great, and why not show them that…I guarantee if you put it out there, are inspired and appreciative of someones work and gift, well, others will find their way to your work and do the same.

Hell it’s why I do interviews on my blog! There is no benefit to me with regards to my work! I saw someones photos, they inspired me, and I realised people should see their work! And I wanted to know more about them, how artists brains work, because IT’S FASCINATING! So yeah, spread the love people!

Finally I wanted to share some little technical things I've learned along the way…you may know then already, but some might not, so why not share!

10. Shortcut.

This is little, but in case you didn't know…in Photoshop, if you’re using, say, the patch tool, or the paint tool…or most of the tools, then you don’t have to keep going to the top to re-size your brush…cause I mean, takes too looooong man! Use the [ and the ] to enlarge or reduce the size of the brush. Aaaah, much easier.

11. Document it!

Get a spreadsheet, put in who your clients are, what is included in the job (eg ‘promo shots’), how much the job is, how they paid and when they paid. See that, you’re a grownup now :) Simple stuff, but it helps track, it lets you see your earnings, and it means you can track payments, cause sometimes people take a while to pay…because they’re jerks, but at least this way you remember to remind them!

12. Back the hell up.

If you lose all your work, you will cry. No one wants that, it’s sad, so back up your work…twice.

13. Titles.

Again, repetitive and hard to be original. You don’t have to, but if you struggle, grab your iPod and scan the songs…bet there are some wicked song titles that would fit the title of your image perfectly! It’s not stealing ok, you’re promoting them too!

And here’s a little secret, Maroon 5 Googled ‘Hands All Over Me’ which was the title of their upcoming album, in Google images they found Rosie Hardy’s image entitles ‘Hands All Over Me’, they loved it, and they asked her to recreate it for their album cover. So think about your titles, because people do Google, and your image could come up and lead to amazeballs things!

14. Control.

Last thing. When I started taking self portraits I would set up my camera, focus, press the self timer and run to the spot to get the shot. I would then repeat this a dozen or so times…it was a ball-ache. Get this remote, It’s just over £2, it focuses for you and it’s waterproof. I know you got a lot of exercise running back and forth from the camera, but sometimes it’s ok to be lazy :)

I guess this post is more geared towards beginners, but it doesn't matter really, it’s just some things I've learned…and I like putting things out into the universe!


  1. This post was a much needed pep talk. Thanks! :)

  2. Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future.
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