Amateur Advice

I’m not going to claim to be an expert in photography. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and have been learning a lot about it over the last few years. I have noticed I’ve come a long way since starting out and as with anything, that’s something to be proud of. One thing that I’ve seen a lot of, and I know you notice it too, is people who get their first DSLR and suddenly they’re a professional. Out of the blue that person will have a Facebook page devoted to their “photography” and they’ll even go so far as to have business cards and indiscreet watermarks.

Before I accidentally lump myself into the “wannabe” category I must emphasize the fact that I know I am not a professional. But I am trying to work my way up. I understand this doesn’t happen overnight which I feel separates me from those who decide that they’re a photographer they open their new camera from the box.

But I do know what it’s like to be starting off and I think to myself that maybe those people haven’t been lucky enough to receive some of the advice that I’ve picked up along the way.

So here are some things I’ve learned in the past couple of years. And if you’re just starting out, like me, just keep these tips in mind before shamelessly promoting your Facebook page to all your friends.

1. Invest in a Flash. They’re almost as expensive as a lower end DSLR but they will make your low light situations much easier. You don’t want to use the pop-up flash on your camera unless you have NO other option because it makes your photo look like… well, you used a flash. Off camera lighting does make a hell of a difference.

2. Don’t Be A Post-Snob. You don’t need to edit the absolute crap out of the photos- in fact that would be advised against. But just touch them up. There is no reason to only upload your photos as is. They really don’t look as great as you think they do.

3. No Photo Vomit. If you’re shooting an event, you don’t need to produce every single shot you have. Chances are you’re going to have several shots that look exactly the same. Narrow that down to the best one. If you have a photo that can’t be fixed, dump it and move on. Your end result should not be hundreds of photos unless that is what is explicitly requested of you. Nobody is going to sit there and look at that many photos.

4. That Cliche Thing About the Photographer Making the Photo and Not the Camera.  They always say that it’s not about the equipment, it’s about how well you use it. And I’ve always been curious about it… but it really is true. Sure better equipment is required to do the job you need and I’m not saying you shouldn’t save for it. But I have a lower end DSLR at the moment and still can make good compositions with it. A great shot is a great shot, keep that in mind.

5. Be Smart About Your Watermark. I hate watermarks. But I also hate seeing my photo on someone else’s page and not seeing my name anywhere near it. So if you’re going to make a watermark… make it subtle, make it legible, and move on. It doesn’t need to be fancy and it should certainly not be obnoxious. So just be careful with your watermark.

6. Don’t Go Off The Cheap End. Photography is an expensive hobby. It just is. If you want to get the most of your gear do look for deals, but DO NOT buy cheap gear. I bought a lighting set for super cheap thinking I was getting a great deal once. You know what happened? The shoot-through umbrella already has a hole in it and the light stand has toppled over, breaking one of my remote flash receivers. I’m honestly lucky I didn’t break the flash. Invest in better gear… just do it.

7. Cut the Cliche. If something is overdone it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it. Dear God have I experimented with the done and overdone. But don’t stick to it. It’s tacky. Stop.

8. Use Your “Lunch Time Counter Voice”.  I work at a fast food restaurant. And often times when it is crowded I will perch myself at my register and shout “may I help who’s next in line?” This is something I am actually still having trouble applying to MY photography, but do practice it for yourself. Speak up, don’t be shy.

So far this is what I’ve learned. And I shall continue posting my advice as I pick it up.

Thanks for reading. If you liked my post hit follow to geek out with me every week!

-J

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