I hope this doesn’t come across as a rant.. because it’s not how it’s supposed to come across.. this is some advice to those starting out in photography and some thoughts on photography in general.

– “You must have an awesome camera”.. don’t fall into the trap of thinking new camera gear will make you a better photographer.. it won’t, it will just help you take better resolution, possibly clearer versions of the same photos you are taking now. Learn the gear you have and push it to its limits before upgrading. Some of my favourite shots were taken on a FujiFilm “point & shoot”.. and some of my best selling shots were taken on a 6 mega pixel Canon 300D with a kit lens.. it’s not the gear that makes the photo, it’s the photographer, their vision and their skill.

– “You are really talented”.. don’t expect “success” over night.. whatever your goal is or your definition of success.. in photography, as in the rest of life, it’s a lot of trial and error, reading, studying, working hard and growing. I got asked how I took a certain photo.. by working at it for the last 15(ish) years and learning how to take it. I’m not saying you can’t learn from other people.. I know I’ve learned from so many people it’s not funny.. my inspirations are guys like Peter Lik, Nick RainsChase Jarvis, Zack Arias,Christian FletcherBen ClarkIan WilkinsonPeter EastwayYervant Zanazanian and Marcus Bell.. amongst others. There are so many resources for people to go out and learn from it’s not funny! You do need to find your own path and find what works for you. Personally.. I haven’t found the success I’m looking for either, I still get frustrated on a daily basis and I am always looking for ways to improve. I’ve got so far to go and so much to learn in my photography!

– talent isn’t worth anything.. if you aren’t prepared to put in the hard yards and develop it. Yes there is some element of talent or natural “gifting” or inclination.. but unless you are prepared to work at it, it will go nowhere. I look back at my first photos (some can be seen online here: (http://pmp.deviantart.com/gallery/?offset=264) and wonder if I ever had any talent at all. The difference between yourself and another photographer is rarely talent.. it’s mostly work and experience :)

– “OMG YOU PHOTOSHOPPED IT” – all photos require processing.. more so if you are using RAW to photograph them, as they will need processing from a digital negative to something ready for print or web. There is no magic button in photoshop to make your photos look awesome.. I wish there was, it would be a whole heap easier! haha :) Learn photoshop, but don’t rely on it to “save” your photos.. photoshop is for polishing and finishing.. it shouldn’t be for rescuing (although that’s fine sometimes too). If you are starting out.. get something like Lightroom or Aperture (Mac), they are far easier to use and very effective for simple processing of photos. Photoshop is the digital darkroom.

– Don’t ask for another photographers settings just to try and copy their image or their light.. do ask for the settings *and* why they chose them or what their thinking was behind it. You are better off learning the thought processes and decision making process behind choosing a setting than you are knowing the exact settings.. the chances of you being in exactly the same light and circumstances are pretty minimal.. I’m always happy to share my settings and make sure that I leave them in the meta data in my images so you can always find them out (except on my multiple image stitches). I’m also more than happy to explain why I chose them.

– make mistakes.. lots of them. I have over 350,000 of them in my archives.. I’m not advocating a “spray & pray” mentality.. take photos with a purpose and vision in mind.. but don’t be afraid to wear that shutter out! To quote Zack Arias (another inspiration) “we all sucked as photographers at some point”.

I am passionate about what I do, I love photography and creating images that reflect the vision I have. I love being able to share and express my view as an artist. There is no easy route.. and I’m not even quarter of the way there yet, but I’m more than willing to help others out and point them in the right direction to get more help!

I’ll be putting a post up on my blog with resources for the photographer who is just starting out, it will mostly be links to courses, tutorials and books that have helped me.

Again, I hope this comes out the right way.. I am much better at expressing myself with a camera than I am with the written word.. probably why I’m a photographer and not a novelist :)

– paul

One Comment

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the comment on the camera. I help teach photography and we have heaps of people with the same thoughts as those you described.
    I only just recently upgraded from a 400D to a 5D mk III. Believe me, the 400D was pushed to its capable limits and then some.

    Even today, many photographers would struggle to get the same or similar results as those captured by photographers using something as simple as a pin-hole camera, but think they can do better because they have a kick-ass camera.