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What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring or up-and-coming photographers?
We asked nine photographers who have advanced in their careers to share their best tips with others.
From finding your visual voice to working alongside a mentor or a photo assistant, every piece of advice listed below is a step towards success.
Enjoy the wisdom and photos below. You will be inspired for the new year!
Do you have any advice for aspiring photography? Tag PhotoShelter with social mediaPlease let us know.
Lola’s advice: “Focus on honing your own visual voice and style first. Don’t try to fit your art and photography into other people’s narrow visions of what you should be photographing.
Work on personal projects that you are truly interested in and continue to invest in yourself through education so you can keep honing your craft.”
Darren’s advice: “Whether it’s natural or artificial, learn to ‘see’ ambient light – its quality, its direction, its intensity, its color. And use it to its full advantage.”
Jim’s advice: “Bottom line for photographers today: you’ve got to be interesting. Photographers used to get ahead by taking sharper photographs. Doesn’t work anymore: everybody takes sharp pictures these days. You cannot survive with dull pictures (no mater how sharp).
Don’t chase equipment. A better camera won’t make a boring photo interesting. If you can’t take interesting pictures with an iPhone, then a Leica will not save you.”
Sara’s advice: “If you can find another photographer that will allow you to assist them or be mentored by them, do it! It’s invaluable to learn from photographers who have more expertise than you, even if you shoot a completely different genre.
Although I didn’t want to photograph weddings, I helped a wedding photographer when I started out. I learned so much from her. She taught me not only how to take photos, but also about running a business, editing photos, being a part in the industry, and more. And while it’s difficult, having someone critique your images is also invaluable.
We are emotionally attached to our own photos, so having an objective eye to give feedback can be really helpful in evolving your work.”
Miriam’s advice: “Remember that when you are creating images, you are actually co-creating and connecting with the elements and persons in your frame, through the light that travels through the lens of your camera. So be patient and wait for that moment when each one of these elements become one.”
Jean’s advice: “Don’t overshoot. Digital cameras allow you to shoot and pray with ease. Slow down and spend more time thinking about what you want to capture. Frame and compose according to your vision.
Separate yourself from the crowd of photographers that all shoot the same thing. Try to see something new by moving away. See what others don’t.”
Darina’s advice: “If you are just starting out in business or are an emerging photographer, focus as much of your spare time as you can on pitching. You will see a dramatic change in your business if you are pitching to potential clients every week. It’s how I get most of my clients today and how I got most of them when I first started out and didn’t have much experience.
You will stand out from the crowd if you create PDFs with images that are curated to speak to your target audience. It takes a lot of time and effort but the results are worth it. You may not hear back from clients, but if you’re consistent and keep at it, your proposal will land at the right time with the right client.
Timing is everything in this business.”
Kevin’s advice: “Have patience. It takes years to become successful in this field (as is the case with most professions). I was a small paper photographer, then a full-time freelancer for 10+ years. It takes years of shooting constantly to develop a unique vision and way of seeing the world that makes you a sought-after visual art. Be patient with yourself and just know that it takes time, lots of time, to be really good at this.”
Essdras’ advice: “I would echo the sage advice given to me by Kent Kobersteen, the long-time director of National Geographic: ‘Assign yourself the work you wish to be assigned by others.’ This principle guided me at the onset of my career in Denver, where I immersed myself in photographing a modest neighborhood spanning five by two blocks, nestled on the city’s fringe and across the railway tracks. In this location, I developed my ability to see clearly, to weave a story, and to capture the beauty of decisive moments.
But above all, it was here that I came to fully appreciate the wisdom imparted by one of my earliest martial arts instructors: ‘Walk through the world with an open heart, an open mind, and an open spirit.’ It was here that I began to shape a maxim that would guide my photography career: to truly understand the soul of any place, one must let go of preconceived notions and one’s own ego.”