Forums General PHOTOGRAPHY What was the BEST ADVICE you got as a new photographer?

What was the BEST ADVICE you got as a new photographer?

What was the BEST ADVICE you got as a new photographer? Meaning, the advice that had the most impact on your work?

Mine was: “Don’t Blame Your Gear.”   If your images aren’t good enough, not up to par, not making your heart leap a little, it’s not your camera’s fault. It’s all too easy to sit back and say yeah but if I only had this lens, or that body, or this upgrade, or that filter. If only the contents of my camera bag looked like so-n-so’s on social media. THEN I’d make the photos I long to make.

NOPE. Obvious there are leaps in quality to some extent as you move upwards, but now that I teach workshops I see it all the time: people with all that gear and no vision. You have to make it happen with WHAT YOU HAVE and that’s a life motto, isn’t it?

There’s a few small caveats. It’s hard to make a star / astro photo without a wide open lens for example. You either don’t take on astro for now and go rock at something else, or you sit down and study how to do it without that lens, AND (assuming this is a genre that you really feel you need to master) you make a real plan to save and save for a lens that will get it done (buy used, trade, buy an off-brand, whatever it takes to stop making excuses). Essentially, you either complain your gear can’t do it, or you work harder.

Don’t blame it on your gear. Your camera will do what it’s told. So, just get better. That’s the cold hard truth that propelled me forward as a newb!


View Profile 2016-12-30 10:19:26 PST

Many people have told me to just keep shooting. Theory is good to know ,but photographing in the field for work or for fun makes one a better photographer.

I also like Ansel Adams’ quote, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” This makes me think about composition, light, subject(s), etc., before I press the shutter button.

View Profile 2016-12-30 19:55:07 PST

I think the single piece of instruction/advice I got that immediately made my compositions better was learning the rule of thirds. It really made me look at the entire frame and be very intentional where I placed my subject. Closely related to that was to mind my edges!

View Profile 2016-12-30 20:43:52 PST

“Keep shooting with that 50mm. I think you will grow to love it. It will give you beautiful bokeh! Being a macro lover, you must love bokeh :)”

Michael Bonocore said that in his comments on my Photography L1 CH1 course assignment. Until that time I was using the auto setting with the kit lens that came with my Canon T4i/650D and frustrated that I couldn’t understand how ISO/ f stops and shutter speed were supposed to work together.

Now, every time my husband wants to use the 50mm (it’s actually his lens) he has to come looking for my camera to find it. I love, LOVE the images I get out of using that lens and am counting down the days till I can buy my own and we can stop fighting over whose turn it is to use it whenever we go out. 🙂 My most recent shots were of Tokyo Tower at night with some super fun angles.

View Profile 2016-12-31 00:03:17 PST

“The best camera is the one you’ve got” – sometimes I’m watching the most spectacular sunset in the mountains of Barcelona and I only have my old iphone 5c, but I’ve learned how to focus, look for angles and arrange photo composition over the years, so I’ve managed to capture lots of cool views with it. This kind of goes along with Kate’s advice – don’t blame the gear, learn how to use it.

View Profile 2017-01-02 08:48:24 PST

1) “Learn to shoot in manual mode.” My photography began to improve once I worked on shooting in manual mode.

2) “Look for great light.” The most mundane object can look like a masterpiece if shot in great light.

And finally, Ansel Adams had a degree in art. He suggested that all photographers should study art. My 2017 goal for my photography is to study art on YouTube, and of course, continue to photograph life.

View Profile 2017-01-03 10:02:31 PST

@vincent – both excellent quotes. It’s true, when in a rut you just need to keep shooting. Find something different.

@carlo – yes the ROT is such an excellent tool to improve comps from the get-go.

@jennifer – awesome! I’ll pass that along to michael! Yes, the 50mm is wonderful and so is it’s bokeh. So glad to hear this stuck with you and you’re seeing the benefits!

@Dayana – totally true! And it does go hand in hand with my quote too. I too find myself with only my cell phone. Maybe I can’t make the exact image that flashes through my mind – for quality sake or perhaps lack of proper zoom, or lack of tripod – but the question then becomes: “What is the BEST image I can make, with what I have?”  Boom.

@Ingrid – both awesome advice. Or all 3 I should say. Manual gives you the control to make the image yours. And yes, Light is the master factor in all images. The most simple of objects, well lit, or in beautiful quality of light, is magic.

View Profile 2017-01-12 10:22:11 PST

Best piece of advice came from an old German photographer, and every shot I take I hear his thick accent talking in my ear: “Composition! It’s 90% composition.” So true. If you don’t have that, the shot is pointless. I spent a lot of time looking at other photos, emulating them, then having the confidence to adjust the angle slightly to make it ‘mine’. That taught me a lot…

View Profile 2017-01-19 05:50:36 PST

Yep. I agree with Kate.  Don’t blame mediocre photography on ‘not having the top-of-the-line equipment’.  I’ve seen amazing photos that evoke so much emotion come from a plastic Holga camera, a disposable camera, a cheap Polaroid. And I’ve seen absolute shit come out of a $20,000 set up.  And sometimes not having all the bells and whistles makes you focus more on composition, on the available light, on staying open to the spontaneity of the moment.


View Profile 2017-01-19 14:42:36 PST

@Jane – totally true. All the gear in the world cannot replace a vision for your  shot.

@Cathy – gear can absolutely get in the way. Part of the reason I went to a mirrorless system!

View Profile 2017-01-20 14:37:09 PST

Best advice I got was from one of my editors just after I was accepted at an agency.  He told me to experiment, and experiment some more.  After switching from slide film to digital, this was hard to do at first.

View Profile 2017-02-28 16:33:45 PST

@marlene – totally! the only way forward is to take risks and try new things. Otherwise we just make the same (safe) photos over and over.

View Profile 2017-03-01 09:37:25 PST