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Keys to Becoming a Good Photographer

Updated on September 8, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Anyone that you ask what are the needed steps or keys to becoming good in any profession will probably give you a totally different answers from the next person that you pose the same question to.

All professions require that you do something besides the actual work and many today also require that you continue to study and improve your understanding and better your skills. In photography the same holds true.

There are many things besides standing behind a camera and snapping pictures. You need to market yourself and get to be known and slowly but surely, if you have the talent, people will start referring others to you and that is by far the best method of increasing your bottom line and gaining recognition.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

One of the first things that any photographer who aspires to be well known and respected in the filed must do is to keep training and learning.

You can browse through publications that feature the work you are interested in, talk to others about their work, attend seminars but most importantly a good training at a reputable institution will go a long ways.

Plus as time passes and techniques and equipment change, this is a great way to get your hands "dirty" and try out the new techniques and gear.

Many colleges will offer official photographic classes and in various difficulties from amateur to advanced.

Try to take at least one of these courses once every two or three years. This is assuming that before you got into photography you at least took some beginner courses at your local college.

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Research and even mimic the work of more talented and established photographers who specialize in the type of photography that interests you.

How do they approach a shoot.

How do they select the subject matter, how do they prepare, what equipment they use and everything about how they do things, can help you become better.

Remember that they are well known and respected because they have put in the time and done everything they needed to do before they got to where they are today.

Learn from their successes and from their mistakes.

Experiment and try out new things. Think outside the box.

Many of the best known photographers developed their own unique style and they seldom do work that is similar to the work of others.

Experiment with new techniques and new subjects and do so often until you find something that you call call your own unique style.

It may not be easy but through patience and tenacity, you will eventually develop your own way of doing things.

No One is Born a Photographer

CC BY-ND 2.0 DE | Source

No matter how good you are, it will not matter if no one sees your work ,much less knows who you are.

Show off your work in blogs, e Books, galleries, free exhibitions like cultural public shows, fairs and so on.

Distribute some of your work for free to worthy causes and non profits. Do some free lance and at not cost for your favorite club or organization and give out plenty of business cards.

Keep in mind that a good online presence is a must. If you cannot do your own web site then perhaps hiring someone for a one time fee to set it up for you may be the best route to take.

Don't forget the power of networking. Attend meetings and join clubs that are open for those interested in the same things that you are and get to meet others whenever ever you can.

One of the best ways to show your work is to participate in contests. Most are free to join and because most have strict guidelines, you get to experience real life demands and rigors of working under pressure and judge the competition.

Invest time and money in your career. Attend meetings no matter where they take place if they can help you further your goals.

Although most photo gear is very durable and will work for years (my Canon AE1 was in use for 23 years before it was finally retired) there will be times that you may have to invest in some new lenses, camera bodies or lighting equipment.

Not to mention new books or guides and not to forget is traveling to interesting locations if this means the opportunity of capturing great shots.

Be creative

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CC BY 3.0 | Source

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Become a specialist. The best photographers in the world specialize in one or maybe two styles.

From the start, from the moment that you decide that you want to be a professional photographer, dedicate all your strength and time in pursuing those subjects that will form the basis of your style.

Do not try to be a "Jack of all Trades and Master of None" because as your reputation grows clients that seek images of your subject matter will know who to call.

Go out and play but stop to smell the flowers once in a while

(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Be persistent and persevere. Things may not be easy at first. You may need to start very slowly and grow in tiny steps.

No one on is born a photographer and unless you got rich parents, you can expect financial difficulties along the way, especially in the beginning.

It takes time for others to discover you and for you to make a name for yourself, plus the obvious fact is that there are thousands upon thousands of photographers competing in the same market, perhaps even in your same hometown.

You need to set yourself apart if you are trying to compete but even then, it will take time. Do not give up your dreams if it is to become a photographer or whatever you want to make of your life.

Keep trying and you are bound to eventually succeed!

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez


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