This is the worst photography advice I have ever had

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When it comes to photography and the quest for improvement, there is no shortage of advice. Some of them are great, some are rather questionable, and some are utter nonsense. Here are some of the worst advice I have received over the years.

First of all, before I get into the article itself, I want it to be absolutely clear that I am speaking from a purely personal and subjective point of view. As the title suggests, this is the worst advice I have ever received. This may not apply to you and you may very well disagree with my point of view, but I’m sure there are other types of advice you have received that have been just as bad. from your own point of view. So with that out of the way, let’s go.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but when I was an undergrad student at the University of Sydney I studied liberal arts. A Bachelor of Arts is what I graduated with, to be precise. A B.Arts (or BA) in Australia is often pejoratively referred to as a “Bugger All” degree, which in local jargon means that it is pretty much worthless because of the idea that it won’t get you. not really training to enter into a particular vocation. . However, what it certainly helps you with is critical thinking and I learned very early on during my time in college that advice and opinions, no matter who they come from, are very similar in that everyone has them, but they’re not necessarily useful most of the time when you get them. Learning how to become a critical thinker is hugely beneficial as it allows you to sift through a myriad of information more precisely and more quickly identify things that could help you in your research.

So when I started my photography journey and started getting a little more serious about it, I naturally started to meet more and more people in the field. Some were teachers, others experienced professionals, while others were just enthusiastic amateurs. Still, they all had their own opinions on what a good photograph is and what you should do to improve yourself. I found it incredibly interesting to listen to so many different points of view, but it very quickly became apparent that for me a lot of things were absurd and had nothing to do with me and my goals.

Shooting only in manual mode

One of the worst tips I got from many people in different genres was to always shoot in manual mode. Without a doubt, in hindsight, it was purely a matter of ego and a desire to show others what they knew about the craft and their equipment, and a way to separate themselves from the plebs below. ‘them who used any type of automatic function on their cameras. Usually the idea behind the shooting-only manual was that it gave you full control over all settings so that you weren’t held hostage by the whims of the preinstalled computer in any way. inside your camera making decisions for you.

To me, there are very few absolutes in life, even more so in photography, so using all the options available on a camera seems pretty safe in most situations. Therefore, when people insisted that I didn’t use any other settings except manual mode, I usually gave them a polite smile and quickly left them to their own devices.

Explore a specific niche

Another tip that I’ve always found rather confusing is the idea that you should find your niche in photography quickly and really focus on that specific type of photography at the expense of everything else. Or, as another friend put it, “always stay in your lane”. The essence of this is the idea that you should master your craft in a very specific area of ​​photography rather than floating around in different genres while becoming a master of none. Of course, this idea could perfectly apply to people whose only income is based on a rigid type of photography like studio portraits of newborns, but for the majority of photographers I see nothing more limiting.

Getting back to point one above and the benefits of a liberal arts education, you might be surprised to find that over a third of current CEOs at Fortune 500 companies have a liberal arts degree. For example, Slack founder Stewart Butterfield as well as LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman both have master’s degrees in philosophy and search engine co-founder Aardvark Damon Horowitz has a doctorate in philosophy. . What does it mean? This means that having a broad education and a broad understanding of a variety of different fields helps you immensely in the field of your choice.

So when you apply this to photography, understanding and practicing a wide range of genres will ultimately help you in the specific genre of photography you are focusing on. For example, if you are a wedding photographer who earns money by photographing weddings every weekend, it will be of great benefit to you if you also have a good understanding of landscape and seascape photography. That way, when photographing the bride and groom before the wedding or after the wedding for their specific couple photos, you can take them to natural areas and use your knowledge of landscape photography to produce much better photos than if you didn’t. had no idea of ​​the concepts of landscape photography or the use of natural light. You can say the same about the mixing and association of many different genres.

30 day challenges

Finally, we come by far to the worst photography advice I have ever received. For me, photography is a creative activity where I can express my opinions and emotions through imagery. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t, but producing images always has to come from my love of photography. Like everyone else, I go through phases where I just don’t feel in love with photography. Indeed, for about a month or so, I have barely picked up a camera due to different circumstances, but I haven’t missed it at all because I haven’t felt any real excitement or urge to go out and take photos. This is totally fine because I know the creative juices will start flowing again, as they always do.

However, when I first started photography and found myself in those periods of inertia, I had so many people offering me the same thing. what was that? Go out there and challenge myself for 30 days by taking photos in a genre that normally doesn’t interest me. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine worse. I’ve always wondered why the hell someone would force themselves to do something they have no particular interest in for 30 straight days. Just why?

Of course, the idea is that it might give you new ideas or rekindle your passion for photography, but that’s just not how I work. You might think this is counterintuitive to my ideas above about liberal arts and education in many areas, but it isn’t. In the liberal arts, like in the photographic genres, you have a lot of choices about what you can study, but that doesn’t mean you should study things that you simply don’t care about. For example, during my bachelor’s degree, I never went far in everything related to business or economics. Just like photography, I never had the slightest interest in product photography. It’s just personal.

If something doesn’t interest me, I won’t, so I can’t think of anything worse than forcing myself to photograph things for 30 days in a row in the hope of finding the bug. And it’s not just photography, is it? You have to categorize your raw files, edit them, delete the ones you don’t like, and so on. Can you imagine how long it would take over 30 days? Doing such a challenge would probably kill me rather than help me in any way.

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I repeat, these ideas are personal. Your feelings might be different. But the big takeaway here is that you don’t have to follow all the advice you get, no matter who it comes from. Take what works for you, but don’t be afraid to let others down. And you? What’s one of the worst photography tips you’ve ever had? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


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