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Three Things All Photographers Should Know

Updated on November 25, 2019
Victor Moolman profile image

10+ years of professional photography and several cameras later, I can safely give advice on this.

Creative ways to take pictures are what we're all working towards, our need to create something unique is what drives us all up this mountain. No one wants to take a picture that looks like anyone could have taken it, which makes it more disheartening when you google search ‘sunset’. With the advent of camera phones, cheap handheld cameras and the internet, it seems like all the good pictures have already been done.

However, this is not true, and you don't have to use Photoshop to be better than the rest. Your ability to take pictures should not be judged based on your ability to use the program, though this does not diminish the skills required to use Photoshop. With this 'revelation' comes the question, how will your photography be different from the thousands of pictures being uploaded every day?

This is why I documented these three pointers, things that took years to learn and flesh out entirely. Being a photographer requires a lot of hard work, and learning these three key facts now will help make your journey much easier.

Get creative with the angle

This is something that you’ll learn to do quickly, it’s also something that a lot of photographers quickly forget. I’ve seen many new photographers go out into the world and come back with flowers and buildings shot at weird angles, and these are all fantastic examples of what to do. Unfortunately, once these photographers have taken thousands of pictures their drive to be creative starts to diminish.

Their own portfolios start filling up with portrait shots that all look the same and landscapes that might as well be Windows wallpapers. A lack of creativity and almost laziness seems to settle on them, which creates an unfortunate step down in the quality of their work. It’s something that is quickly trained out of you when you’re studying or if you take hundreds of photos every day, you become bored of the mundane.

Even when you’ve got your style down to a practiced formula you should never stop looking for new and creative angles. Getting the perfect picture is very rarely about just the right equipment, it’s about taking a picture of something in a way that no one else has thought of.

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If you’ve seen an iconic picture, it may be fun to retake that picture as is, but, at the same time, it will be a lot more rewarding to challenge yourself. Try to get a picture in a way that no one else has thought of, go down low or see if you can get higher than everybody else. You will fail several times on your journey, but you will always be stretching and flexing a creative muscle.

In the end you will find yourself capable of taking pictures in styles that are entirely unique to you.

Go where few dare and be ready to do it alone

I’ve had a lot of fun taking pictures of the world around us. I’ve had friends and strangers throw poses that I never could have orchestrated. However, these times only make up 40% of the total pictures that I’ve taken. More often than not I am walking or hiking somewhere alone with nothing but the moon, stars and, sometimes, the sun as my friend.

Depending on your chosen genre of photography you will find yourself surrounded by people or you might have to go camping alone. Either way, you will have to take risks, to this day the bravest photographers (for me) are split between photojournalists and street photographers. I’ve done a bit of both and I’ve never been as unsure and afraid of failure as I was while doing either of them.

For photographers of the natural world, or the urban environment, exploring places where few people have been is often when we find our best shots. You’ll find few people that are willing to stand on top of a mountain with you as storm clouds slowly roll in. It’s the same with urban exploration, of new and old buildings.

You might find a few friends that are willing to explore abandoned buildings, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone willing to trespass. I can vividly remember being left alone to sneak my way to the top of a building only to find no good pictures.

Equipment dictates genre

I’ve said it myself a million times and you’ve heard it a million times, you do not need the best equipment to be a photographer. This will always be true, however, as you start to develop your own style you will quickly learn and look for better and better equipment.

This is what creates the difference between a photographer that does it as a professional hobby and a photographer that does it as a full-time job. With the standard lenses included in camera bundles it is entirely possible to take great pictures of wildlife or landscapes. However, it becomes more and more challenging as your own skills start to develop.

When your own skills have out developed your camera then you know it may be time for an upgrade. Each picture that you took has also been a bit of work your camera has done, which means that it will be just as tired as you are. You will notice flaws in your lenses and feel limited by the equipment in ways that only an experienced photographer will understand.

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This is my confessional, I still use my first camera, but I rarely use my telephoto lens. Instead I stick with the standard lens and my grandfather’s manual 50mm. Not only has this limited my professional career it has stunted the growth of my style.

If you want to continue growing you will need to get new equipment, something that will assist you in learning and refining your skills. You will learn which lenses work the best for you, such as studio photographers that may prefer to use wide angle lenses, while wildlife photographers love telephoto lenses that double as self-defense weapons.

Whichever genre and style of photography you’ve chosen, or created, it’s important that you always work towards increasing your skills and that you want to improve with each photograph that you take.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Victor Moolman


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