Everyone in the photography business has to face a number of obstacles at the beginning of his or her career. One of these obstacles is undoubtedly within the human mind. You will doubt yourself, second guess your work, wonder if this is the right path for you.
A lot of this has to do with artistic growing pains—that is, learning to find confidence in your own style and abilities. But that’s only part of it. The other part has to do with some unfortunate photography myths that exist in the industry, and once you learn the truth, you’ll be well on your way to getting past those pesky mental barriers.
Myth #1: The camera equipment makes the photographer
This one is all too common. People go out and drop thousands of dollars on new equipment, only to be confused when they’re not getting work and their photos aren’t selling. Your equipment is a tool that will do very little for you if you don’t understand how to create a good photograph. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about composition, for example, your camera won’t do it for you. The photographer takes the photo, the equipment just helps. I’ve seen gorgeous images captured with a Polaroid and awful ones with a Canon 7D.
Ansel Adams once said that you don’t take a photograph, you make it. Images are created in the space six inches behind the view finder, not by what’s in front of it.
Myth #2: Professional photographers are more talented than amateurs
The only difference between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer is that an amateur does not get paid for their work. That’s it. The definition has nothing to do with the quality of the photographs taken. Many times it has more to do with business talent than anything else.
Myth #3: My friends and family love my pictures; breaking into the field will be easy
Image by Adam Fields via Flickr
Sadly, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Professional photography isn’t always about the artistic side of things, but rather the business side, and there’s a steep learning curve. Now, if your friends and family are already hiring you to take pictures for them, you might already be a step up. If they like your work, be encouraged that you may have a future in photography, but recognize that you still have a long way to go. This is just the beginning.
Myth #4: Rules are meant to be followed
Rules are meant to be learned, mastered, and eventually bent. Guidelines like “the rule of thirds” and “keep your horizons level” can ultimately be dismissed for the sake of creative endeavors. They exists as guidelines—tools to help you get started—where you go from there is entirely up to you.
Myth #5: I don’t need a website
We live in the age of the Internet. Count yourself lucky! If you want to show a potential client your body of work, you can just hand them your business card with your website URL. Oh, but wait, what if you don’t have a website? Then you have nothing to show. You could, hypothetically, carry around your portfolio on a regular basis, but then you’re losing out on people you wouldn’t normally come across.
Don’t limit your options. Create a website.
Myth #6: Clients want to see a huge body of work
No. They want to see your best. If they have to wade through hundreds of so-so images, they’re not going to be interested. Unfortunately, you are often judged more by your worst photo than your best. If culling your images leaves you with just a handful of exceptional photos, then that’s perfect.
Myth #7: If I post process an image, it’s not real
To set the record straight, no photograph is “real.” It is a record of something that happened in the past, slanted through the lens and the eye of the photographer. Sure, the digital age has made it a lot easier to change things in post, but adjusting white balance and contrast isn’t altering the image, just its quality.
This is a hotly debated topic, but within reason, minor image adjustments aren’t enough to remove the truth of the image. Now, if you’re removing blemishes and changing hair color, well, that’s different.
Myth #8: I’m self taught, so my future in photography is limited
This is about as false as it gets. Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, Peter Lik, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jasmine Starr, and many, many other were self-taught. You don’t have to have a formal education to be a photographer, you just have to be eager to learn.
Myth #9: It’s OK to leave my DSLR on automatic
If you want to learn to take better photos, learn how to use the camera. It doesn’t mean that you have to always use the Manual setting (a lot of photographers frequently keep it on Aperture Priority), but continually using full automatic is just going to hold you back.
Myth #10: I will eventually learn everything there is to know about photography
Nope. Not Possible. This is why you need PhotographyTricks.com.