A word of encouragement for new photographers

Over the course of the last 5 years or so, the world of photography has truly opened up to many new photographers.  Entry level gear has made advanced cameras systems readily affordable.  Advancements in technology have also made quality photography seemingly easier especially when watching commercials on television about how celebrities can take great photographs without any prior experience.  There is also a perception that the world of a professional photographer is a glamorous one, surrounded by beauty and fun, simply “snapping” photographs and collecting money.  It is an “easy work from home” job.

While much of this is true much of it is false.  The new photographers often become discouraged, feel like they are bullied and hated by more experienced photographers.  They feel intimidated to share their work or ask questions for fear of being made fun of, berated, criticized, or insulted.  Even as a photography educator, I have been guilty of these things in the past, often out of frustration.  So now some words of encouragement for aspiring photographers.

We have all been in your place, despite what others may say.  We all started out as beginners, so don’t let them get you down.  

With that said, let me offer some tips on dealing with the hateful often harsh photography world.

  1. Never give up.  While we hear this often it is difficult to not become discouraged.  I, myself, have often become discouraged and on the verge of “giving up” even as an experienced photographer.  In reviewing why I find that it is often my own fault.  I suck at marketing.  Just because you experience a setback continue forward.
  2. Study and learn.  Keep studying and learning.  Find mentors, workshops, classes, meetups.  Just because a class or workshop costs money doesn’t make it any good.  By the same token, free isn’t always good either.  Double and triple check the information.  Find someone whose work you admire and talk to them, even if it is through social media but be wary of those who think their way is the only way or are unwilling to change or continue to learn.  Be especially wary of those who think the “know it all”.
  3. Ask questions.  We have all heard, there are no stupid questions yet there are times when we are treated as though a question is stupid.  I will say this, there are more stupid answers to questions than stupid questions.  I would rather answer 100 stupid questions rather than one person go on without knowing the answer.  Sometimes we don’t know enough to ask a better question.  Along the same lines, be cautious of those who answer questions with a lot of big words and technical jargon.  I have often found that some of those people don’t understand the topic well enough to explain it.  I am of the belief if you can’t explain it to your grandmother you truly don’t understand it yourself ( of course this is provided your grandmother isn’t the resident expert on the topic at hand if she is she may be able to explain it to you).
  4. Take beginning photography groups with a grain of salt.  While they are wonderful places to hang out because you are all new they can often offer a false sense of security especially when you venture into groups of more experienced photographers.  By the same token, don’t take the words of experienced groups too serious.  It is easy to be an internet expert.  Check out the work of those experts.  If they NEVER show their own work be cautious.
  5. Don’t get mad because it isn’t what you wanted to hear.  If you ask a question be prepared to hear the answer.  It may not always be the one you wanted to hear but it may be the one you need most.


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