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What is the BEST photography advice you have ever gotten?


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I would love to get some reader participation on this one. Please comment on the following:

What is the best photography advice you have ever gotten? I am looking for that advice that changed the way you shoot. That “ah” moment. The advice that was the turning point in your photography…

This post will be as meaningful and powerful as you all make it.  No bribes involved – no contest here – and no prizes.  I am hoping this can be one of those threads where everyone contributes and then bookmarks this post’s comments for inspiration.  This thread can be super powerful.  So please contribute and visit back to see what others had to say too.

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  1. kyla branch on August 8, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I don’t know about advise, but my ahah moment was…… when I learned how to change focus points without letting the camera pick it for me. #2 is when I learned about layers in photoshop.

  2. Pam on August 8, 2008 at 10:01 am

    a photog friend of mine noticed my focusing wasn’t what it should be, told me to “use the focus wheel…it’s there for a reason…lol” She was right. much better focal points!

  3. Stephen Dohring on August 8, 2008 at 10:08 am

    “Don’t try to create amazing artistic images everytime, just go for the moments”….. Joe Buisink from his seminar. I shot one wedding and went to his seminar, it gave me such a clear purpose to start from…. thanks Joe.

  4. Maggie D on August 8, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Best advice ever, get to know your client. Especially with children, this has helped me with many what would of been difficult children to work with. Find some special way to relate to them and make them as comfortable as possible. It also helps you have fun with the children you are shooting, you totally get called “cool”. 😉 All of my clients fill out a “get to know you” sheet now.

  5. jenney on August 8, 2008 at 10:51 am

    The best advice I’ve gotten was to just to relax and take lots of pictures! It’s those “in between” portrait shots that are often the best. =)

  6. Dana F on August 8, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I attended a workshop last year, just as I was embarking upon my photography journey and I had a distinct idea in my head of the images I desired to create. I learned so much from being in the room with a group of very talented professionals, but I missed one of the best gems of the weekend due to my “vision” LOL!A photog suggested that I find someone local to shoot with (as I am a portrait photographer, there aren’t a lot of open opportunities to “second”). My protest was that there was no one near me who shot in the same style as I wanted to create. I missed the boat completely.Shoot whenever you have the opportunity. Shoot with whomever you can. Just the experience alone is a valuable one. You can learn something from every person you encounter. Maybe it is the way to break through to a shy client, maybe it is a new workflow, perhaps it is a new shooting technique, maybe you will learn something about yourself or your shooting style when teaching some one new something about the business. The possibilities are endless when you are open to them.I have learned SO much from the photographers I have met and since shot with and am indebted to each ones for the lessons they have shared. I have learned so much more about my style as photographer and where I want to be in my business. I am so grateful I finally heard the message and opened myself up to opportunities. Be open, be generous, the rewards will be greater than you could ever have imagined!

  7. Matt Richman on August 8, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Follow the action and never let the bride out of your sight!

  8. SandraC on August 8, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I was just a beginniner and a photographer friend of mine told me after I had lots of trouble zooming in and out trying to get him into my frame (he’s very tall) to ‘just take a step back’. It was a duuh-moment, but also a very handy tip which I used a lot after that. As a beginner you don’t think about this simple things, you’re just trying to get someone in the shot before the moment has passed…

  9. Iris H on August 8, 2008 at 11:45 am

    The best advice I have heard is that to become a better photographer, first become a more interesting person, and second stand in front of more interesting things.

  10. Meggan on August 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Engage and play – don’t just be the person behind the camera – be someone who is present. You can laugh and engage a child/family/person while shooting. It relaxes you and your client – the smiles come naturally and the moments aren’t fake. Find the joy in more than just the shot – find it in the subject and you’ll love the result.

  11. Johanna on August 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Perhaps one of the best photography tip I have received is know your camera. Read the manual! Even if you fall asleep every night with the manual and your camera in bed with you! If you know your equipment, you don’t have to think about it anymore and you can concentrate on what you love, creating an exposure, capturing a moment. I know this is true because I bought a new camera this year and although I know it’s better (spec-wise anyway) and will make my life easier and bring new opportunities to capture those moments, I currently have a love-hate relationship with it because I don’t know it nearly as well yet as I do my “old” camera (which I still love). I have to force myself to use it and get to know it better. We’re getting there!

  12. Adrianne on August 8, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    It was a link from the PIF blog to an article about using marbles to find the right light in any situation. That was my moment for it to ‘click’ on natural lighting. Not that I don’t still struggle, not practicing is not growing, but it suddenly made me ‘see’ light for the first time. People talked to me about it and showed me their pix but it didn’t click until I saw that marble and did it myself. 🙂

  13. Linda Ferrell on August 8, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Jodi, The best advise I had ever gotten was to “Be true to yourself” and take pictures that YOU like. Whether it be macro, landscape, food styling, portraits, children or wedding etc… Not pictures that are popular or the “IN” pictures. That way you can concentrate on who you are as a photographer and build upon that. Only than can you go on and learn all there is to learn and build upon those strengths. Either as a professional or like me a hobbiest.

  14. Patricia on August 8, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve gotten lots of great tips over the years. Be yourself. “You’re at war. “It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s not personal it’s business.” Recite that to yourself every time you feel you’re losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death. ” (movie quote can you guess which one?)”I’m a photographer.” (repeat that in front of the mirror until you believe it and can say it to someone else without faultering)Natural light shooting is the same as studio lighting you just can’t move the lights like you can in studio instead you move the person.Many many more things but those are ones I could think of quickly.

  15. sue on August 8, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    be who you are: no one else can, so why not do it best.always make so images for yourself in addition to the client. it keeps you motivated and develops your own unique style more success is measured by the success of those i serve.never ignore the numbers. you can’t make a sweet-tasting success cake recipe without ALL the right ingredients–of which only one is to-die-for images made with skill and vision . . . business is still business.sue

  16. Kristine on August 8, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    “It’s what people see in an image that makes it good. But how that image makes people feel is what makes it great. When people stop in front of your work and go “Ah, WOW!” whether the wow is beautiful, uncomfortable, scary, happy, sad, tragic,or any other emotion, you know that you have achieved some level of greatness with that image. Strive for that greatness with everything you shoot, and don’t ever give up looking for it”My photography instructor told us that in one of the very first creative design classes I took. It scared me senseless, but boy did I ever work hard to get that pause from him when he critiqued our class assignments. Those words will never leave me.

  17. Stacey on August 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    My “AH!!” moment was after reading the first parts of “Understanding Exposure”. Then the whole photography triangle … ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed… all made sense. It finally clicked how they all work together. Once I understood the concept, all those numbers I had been staring at for months finally made sense.

  18. Michelle O. on August 8, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    When I was barely 18, and working a Girl Scout Camp in the stables, with little access to good photography equipment, I was lucky enough to work with a fantastic college senior, who treated me as an equal, and as mentee all at the same time without me realizing it. Trisha was a Photography major at college, and she snapped away all summer. One day I made mention of a cool looking cloud, but wouldn’t it be a waste of a picture to shoot it. I dont remember her exact words, but the gist of Trisha’s answer was this. There are not worthless shots. If you want to take the shot, when it isn’t a waste. Very much like there are no stupid questions. There are no worthless shots. It didn’t change my limited amount of film, but it made me realize that there where some shots I should go ahead and take, rather than listening to the frame counter in the back of my head adding up rolls of film.

  19. Charlotte Stringer on August 8, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    The best advise I have ever gotten was that it is not about the camera- but that is about the lens. Since then I have replaced all of my cheap off brand lenses with Canon glass lenses.. My photos show it now and I am feeling a lot more confident about my work! THE BEST advise I ever got… truly!! Bottom line, if you shoot Canon, buy Canon lenses- Same as if you shoot Nikon, buy Nikon.

  20. Mands on August 8, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    There is such awesome advice here! Mine would be shoot what YOU love, what is in your heart, don’t follow what others are doing because there is only ONE you, and when clients book they need to see WHO they are booking more than WHAT….what you shoot is an extension of who you are, so always go with your gut first.

  21. Tara on August 9, 2008 at 12:05 am

    I tend to get VERY nervous before weddings and sessions. I always have that mental list of shots that I HAVE to get, in my head.. but every time I’ve tried to stick to the list.. it’s always the spur of the moment shots that really stand out. It happens every single time. Sometimes you just have to take all the jumbled up notes floating around your head and push everything aside.. just go out there, have fun, shoot what you feel at that moment and work your butt off.

  22. Cindy on August 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Learn to use your camera… don’t rely on Photoshop to fix your photos!

  23. Shay Chisholm on August 10, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Never fail to take yourself seriously, cause if you don’t, no one else will. If you don’t feel comfortable with your client, they won’t feel comfortable with you.

  24. pam on August 11, 2008 at 1:09 am

    The very first photography teacher I had in college, back in the days of film, said you can expect to get one or two powerful photos out of each roll (of 36). In other words, don’t take just one shot – keep shooting. That has stuck with me all these years and I still apply it today. I always shoot in continuous mode.

  25. Eric L on August 11, 2008 at 4:28 am

    A quote from Ansel “The most important part of a camera is siz inches behind it.” Really the best advice I’ve ever heard.

  26. crystalyn on August 11, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    “Shoot every day.” Something, anything, just keep picking your camera up and use it every day. I have learned so much by doing that…it keeps me thinking about it all the time and my learning curve is faster because I’m putting more time into it. It also helps me learn what questions I need to ask or research. It’s made all the difference.

  27. Kat on August 11, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Don’t be a afraid to experiment, you never know what looks good unless you try it. – Paul Light (paraphrased) my photog 101 teacherThe next best advice I got was from Julia Livingstone – “Will you PLEASE come to my photography forum?” This is where my growth really began because I had such a wonderful resource of photographers

  28. Todd on August 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    At a conference speaking with a renowned sports photographer and reflecting on all the great shots to be had at the Superbowl and other high end events which most of us will never have access to. His response was simple…”every assignment is the Superbowl”

  29. Heather K on August 11, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    The best advice I received from my mentor was learn “lighting”. He said “if you do not learn anything else at all about photography, learn the lighting.”

  30. Nancy on August 12, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    This wasn’t advice I received, but an “Ah Ha” moment for me when I was just learning about controlling my camera, and having a hard time remembering what controlled the aperature – the bigger number or the smaller number made the opening bigger or smaller… urgh!?! I came up with a phrase that worked for me – the greater the number, the greater your depth of field; the smaller the number, the smaller the depth of field. That I could remember!

  31. on September 2, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    SHARE … the knowledge. It still amazes how many people hold “their” secrets SO close and won’t share, anything. I’m so glad that I learned this very important advice early in my business. It makes me a greater person both personally and professionally.

  32. discount digital cameras on April 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I dont usually comment, but after reading through so much info I had to say thanks

  33. Elizabeth on September 28, 2009 at 3:09 am

    step back.

  34. Mel on December 22, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    “Learn the light” This is one of the most important without a doubt. Here I put together some of the advices that i know of

  35. Dave on August 14, 2013 at 2:51 am

    My best aha moment recently came from the strobist blog and was about balancing ambient light with flash. Think of it as taking 2 photos at the same time – a normal photo (background) and a flash photo (subject). This made so much sense & simplified things hugely for me.

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