Latest ten things every photographer should know

Written by Daniel Gregory

February 8, 2015

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  1. You are an amazing storyteller. All of us want to have you tell your story. Some stories are short. Some are long. Some make us laugh, and others make us cry. We wrap up in fiction and dive deep into non-fiction. But in the end, you are living an amazing story. Just tell it.
  2. Fear is a rat bastard. Fear is the thing that keeps you from being you. It is that voice in your head that tells you that you are not good enough, smart enough, or unique enough to do what you are doing. That is all a load of crap. Fear is there to make sure that the world does not become better. It holds us back from being what we were meant to be–amazing. Tell your rat bastard fear to kiss your ass.
  3. When you come up with a photographic project that you stop doing because it is too hard or scary, stop whatever else you are doing and work only on that for a while. Hard and scary are synonyms in art for really important work.
  4. Spend 5 minutes every day looking at your work and writing down every word that comes to mind when you look at an image. Use the same image for a week. Do not worry if you write the same words down more than once. What is likely wrong with your photographs is not something in Photoshop, but rather your lack of vocabulary to talk about your work. Spend more time on language and less time on the computer.
  5. You are not improving if you are not printing. The print is a critical step in the feedback process. You need to hold and view a material object so you can live with it. It needs a sense of permanence that the computer doesn’t have. Print and watch how fast you improve.
  6. Learn to see light by watching old black and white movies with the sound off. What does light tell you about the story? For me birds and rear windows are still scary.
  7. Spend more time looking at work that matters to you and less on “promoting your work.” Like number 4, write down what makes this images work and not work. Don’t focus on what you like. When you were 10, you liked My Pretty Pony and Lincoln Logs, but you don’t own a pink horse or live in a log cabin (betting the odds here-cause you might). Spend the time to understand really what works in an image for you. What do you see? What do you feel? Why did the image get taken? What would you have done in the same position? Like buttons are for cat videos, not for meaningful feedback.
  8. Your work should show me the moments in your life that will never happen again. If you do not think the moments you capture are special, then you have not been paying attention. Photography is what happens between the clicks. The photograph happens on the click.
  9. Photographs work when you can feel them. If you can’t feel anything in your work what makes you think I will. Art is magical and sucks because it requires us to tell a story that exposes something personal within us. That is why not everyone makes it as an artist. Real meaningful self-disclosure is really scary–see 2.
  10. Stop asking other photographers about what camera, f/stop, shutter speed, Lee filter, tripod, etc., etc. and so forth they used to take a given photograph. There is nothing in their gear that you don’t have in yours. All cameras have shutter speeds, f/stops, ISOs and crazy crap in the menus you won’t ever use. If I tell you the image was at 125th of a second are you all the sudden going to say: Damn I wish I had thought to see if my camera can do 125th. No. Want to know why an image resonates with you? What to know how to make a better image? Talk about it. Think about it. Ask the photographer about what resonates or doesn’t resonate with the image you are looking at. Ask them what works and doesn’ t work in the image for them. Ask them anything about the image other than what was used to make it.

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