This is not your ordinary list of photography tips. If you were expecting a cute write up about how to take better pictures, feel free to do a google— nevermind, I just did it for you.
This is a compilation of the myriad of things I’ve learned throughout my journey as a photographer up until now… A mixtape, if you will. It is by no means an encapsulation of all the lessons you will ever have to know, just little tidbits of knowledge from my experiences that I feel are worth sharing, and/or wish someone could’ve told me when I was starting out. In going over this list, I hope you come away with a few discoveries of your own, and in the case that you do, feel free to pay it forward to another aspiring photographer, that would be much appreciated. Enjoy.
1) White backgrounds make the subject feel free and lighter
2) Black backgrounds hold the subject in and make the subject feel more anchored
3) 50mm lenses are "normal", but that only refers to its depth perspective, not its field of view, so you're absolutely correct in feeling like its a telephoto.
4) 35mm is considered "wide angle" but it's actually not wide enough to give you dynamic images.
5) Solution, use 28mm or 24mm - this is not cheating, it's understanding that only this wide of a lens is capable of recreating the effect of what you see with your eyes (which is awesome shit) in a 2D medium
6) The difference between 28mm and 24mm is huge
7) Don't go into photography school thinking that you'll: a) learn everything you'll ever need to know - that will never happen in any department of life b) become absolutely amazing/rich/famous immediately after
8) Don't chase the fame, don't chase the women
9) Intern forever
10) Buy Christmas gifts, send cards, remember birthdays, smile, say hi, know when to speak up, know when to shut up
11) Be good, be fast - the main reason we've switched to digital is not because of quality (film still kicks ass) - it's because it's fast. if you're still working as slow as you're working on film, you're fired
12) Give the clients what they want first, then do your own thing (similar to getting good grades so your parents will let you go out and wreak havoc on the weekends)
13) Learn French and smoke cigarettes
14) People will always say your idea has been done before, but that doesn't matter, what matters is that you haven't done it.
15) The amount of 'likes' you get on instagram/facebook is not a good indicator of how good your pictures are
16) Get used to showing your work, and as often as possible. The critiques will hurt, but other people will always be able to spot something you may have overlooked - having said that, only rely on those you trust
17) Don't wait til it's perfect to show your work
18) Bring your body into the work, ideas don't just come from the brain
19) Think outside. Work inside.
20) Get a day job and keep it. You'll get the same amount of work done anyway (Parkinson's Law)
21) Invest in photobooks
22) If 21 doesn't work, go to bookstores and libraries often. Never stop looking.
23) When going to photo exhibits/book signings talk to everyone BUT the photographer
24) Start a blog NOW
25) Have a business card to give out
26) Talent is unreliable, keep working - persistence persists
27) Learn how to shoot, develop, and print bw film
28) Then do the same for color film
29) Then do medium format photography
30) Then do large format photography
31) Shoot from the hip
32) Embrace the mistakes
33) Import + back up files immediately after shoot and format cards - avoids confusion
34) Do the same with batteries
35) Invest in a Mirror RAID hard drive.
36) Use time capsule
37) Have a thumb drive on your key chain
38) Always have a point and shoot camera on you
39) If you're going to direct, direct
40) Shoot outdoors in the Spring, Summer, and Fall
41) Shoot indoors during the Winter
42) Having a photoshoot with someone is like taking someone on a date.
43) It's not how good you are, it's how likable you are. Because it's really just about who you know.
44) Master photoshop, but use it as little as possible
45) The eye is easily fooled
46) If you don't know anything about the history photography, at least know these names: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Ansel Adams, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon.
47) Shallow depth of field is overrated
48) Strobes are overrated
50) Put your camera down and live your life
by Jason Lam