In this article, I will talk about the steps to becoming a photographer. The first thing we should do is to define the term photographer. Merriam-Webster defines a photographer as; one who practices photography; especially: one who makes a business of taking photographs. From this, we can see that no matter your skill level if you take photographs you could be called a photographer. Many people go with the second part; especially: one who makes a business of taking photographs. This is a common myth that a person who makes a business of taking photographs is better than those who do not make it a business. There are many great photographers who practice photography as a hobby. Many of these amateur photographers are, in fact, better than many professional photographers.
Don’t let others define you.
Once you begin to let others define you, you are at their mercy. What they say becomes too important which can begin to limit your growth. You don’t have to follow the path of others because they have been involved in photographer longer, call themselves a professional, are a professional, or any other so-called qualification.
Don’t get offended by what others say.
I see this on a daily basis, many days I see it multiple times. A photographer posts an image on social media or online where others can see it. People begin to offer their perspective or critique. If the comments are critical, less than glowing words such as, “this is awesome”, many claim the others are rude and insulting. This may be so if the person is making personal insults such as, sell your gear you will never make it or wow, this is really horrible.
Read or listen to what they say, then go look up their work. If their work reflects the suggests they give and is better there may be some tips to help you for next time. Make notes. Ask questions, especially if you don’t understand something or want more information on what they say. Ask for examples of their work that reflects their comments and statements such as, “can you show me how you do this sort of work?”.
Learn about proper technique such as; exposure, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, depth of field.
These concepts are the basics of photography. You don’t have to become a master right away. This will come with time. What you do need to achieve is an understanding of the concepts. Once you have this understanding of these basic concepts they will serve as building blocks to success.
Check multiple sources of information.
As the old adage tells us, There is more than one way to skin a cat. (Note: I have nothing against cats nor do I support abuse to animals).
I see many profess to learn from Youtube or other social media sites. There is nothing wrong with Youtube, however, just because there is a Youtube video doesn’t mean it is good information. Find other sources of information, check and double check. Try other methods, you may find something that works better for you.
Be cautious of people who profess there is only one right way!
Find a mentor, teacher, or attend a class
While it isn’t always the case but remember you often get what you pay for. You may find many places and people who offer “free” training. Some of this may be good but is also a good chance that it isn’t worth the money you paid for it.
I don’t say this because I teach and mentor, but I have also taken many “free” courses to see what they offer. Many of them are outdated, provide inaccurate information, are a hook to get you to buy more content or pay for the certificate.
One of the best investments I made in my photography was a paid photography course. It wasn’t cheap. I paid just over $1,000 USD for my training. Do research on the class, compare. This isn’t the only way to grow as a photographer. Much depends on how you learn. The best benefits I got from this formal course was the connection with a quality instructor who provided valuable feedback and the course required me to complete a wide variety of genres of photography. Many I would not have sought to try on my own. What I found was that I became more interested in some of those genres, such as fashion and commercial product photography.
Practice, evaluate, and practice more.
I will use an analogy here. Professional sports players don’t raise to that level by only practicing a bit. They practice a lot. They learn to evaluate their own performance and have a coach evaluate them. Learn to become your own critic. Evaluate your own work. Become your harshest critic.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list. I could add several more steps. These six will get you started and provide a good foundation on your road to becoming a better photographer.
Please, provide you comments and add what you believe are other valuable steps.