How to Become a Great Photographer doesn’t happen overnight. These tips are will help you be a good photographer as a beginner.
“Great Photographers weren’t birthed overnight…” I‘m sharing the progression of my work through these pictures, be sure to read to the end so you can see what hard work and perseverance can bring you!
Bio: Hi, I’m Jordan! Professional photographer, visual storyteller, and coffee connoisseur. I’m the photographer that’s been known to climb on top of dumpsters, crawl through mud puddles, and find myself in poison ivy just to get the Pinterest-worthy photo. Every photographic experience is an adventure and I’m willing to share the hacks I’ve discovered.
How to Become a Great Photographer
I know how it feels to believe you don’t have what it takes to be the photographer that everyone wants to book with. I know it feels like no matter how amazing the photos that come out of your camera, there is still another photographer better than you. Believe me. I am in the industry, and I definitely know how it feels to have someone question or attempt to negotiate your style of editing, your expertise and your infamous “pricing.” I know how it feels to have a client take advantage of you. I even know how it feels to lose your full-time, unrelated photography job over your client’s opinions of their photographs. Yep, sure do.
All of that being said, I want you to write down all those “feelings” you have experienced and throw them away. DO it. I want you to stand with me and not give up on your talents and your marketing. Our clients need people like you and me who will not back down or be intimidated by the ever-growing amateur iPhone photographers of today. You might think your portfolio is never going anywhere, but let me tell you something. You are already halfway better than those “claiming camera” bugs, because you’re reading this article. You care. You’re trying. You want to know what you’re missing. It’s this:
YOUR CONFIDENCE. Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds cliché, but hear me out. Your confidence is, in fact, what’s missing, but where you extract your confidence from is for you to figure out. The comparison game, “I would be better if I had better equipment,” time management, overpromising and under delivering, anxiety, health issues – all of these things can be the roots of a confidence issue.
Mine was (and still is) the comparison game. Among other things – anxiety, a personal life crisis, and depression – I dropped out of photography school. I’m making it sound like a shorter, easier decision than it actually was, but I did quit (very ungracefully).
Fortunately, something “clicked” in me (no pun intended), and I went back to my gracious professors who reinstated me without any penalties. I had to play catch-up, but the same girl who dropped out is the same girl who became the college’s assistant marketing photographer, AND was awarded Student Photographer of the Year in the State of Georgia by the Georgia Professional Photographers Association just a few months later.
I know this conversation has been long-winded, but my point is this:
I dropped out in March 2015. In September of 2015, the same girl who dropped out months earlier landed a paid collegiate photography job AND a major prestigious award by a reputable photography organization. All of these amazing things happened because I stopped being the comparison game’s MVP (I’m still a bench warmer on the sidelines of comparison sometimes, but hey, at least it’s the bench and not the field).
I know my weaknesses and I know my strengths. The next best thing you can do (after throwing away that “feeling” list) is make a pro/con list about yourself as a photographer, for example:
- Excellent improvisation/skills in tough lighting situations
- Great at photographing guys
- Thorough knowledge of Photoshop and Lightroom
Keys to Success!
- Expand Your Style: Attend styled shoots, workshops, and seminars of other photographers that may have specific skills you’re trying to develop in your work
- Have a Budget: Create a savings budget/timeline and discipline yourself to put the money you make from photography directly back in to new, better equipment
- Better Time Management: Photograph your friends and family to practice capturing all of your “must have” shots within a time limit.
- Always Have a Job: Do you know why those “other” photographers are so good at what they do? It’s because they are ALWAYS shooting. Even if you’re not getting paid, you should be honing your skills in between paid jobs.
You have to start somewhere, and it will not happen overnight, but I can tell you firsthand that if you don’t quit on yourself or your passions, it’s definitely worth it.
I graduated in July 2016 with my A.A. in Photography and I landed a full-time photography job with a traveling school photography studio. I’m standing with you while I too try to make my way through this artistic industry. It’s a slow, long, and sometimes painful journey, but I know it’s worth it.
The real MVPs in this industry are people like you: people who care and have a unique style that is birthed from self-awareness.
Thank you for going beyond the shutter.