100 Things I have Learned about Photography

This past week I stumbled upon Eric Kim‘s list titled “100 things I have learned about photography”. It was such a great idea that I decided to do one myself. I have yet to read Kim’s full list as I didn’t want it to influence my own, but I will be going through his afterwards. I suggest you do the same.

It was hard at first, but once I got going, the list was fairly easy to complete. Some of the better items are listed near the end, so if you have the time, I suggest reading the entire list.

  1. If you get into photography, do it for Love, not for Money.
  2. Very few photographers are naturally talented. Most of us have to work hard to improve our skills.
  3. Get a photography buddy. You will get out shooting more often, and will see the world from different perspectives.
  4. Don’t put on your lens cap while standing beside a raging river (unless you want to watch it floating away).
  5. Only an open minded person can learn new things.
  6. The best way to learn is to take a lot of photographs. Join a community. Get feedback.
  7. Spend a lot of time looking at other people’s photographs. It is both relaxing and inspiring.
  8. Leave comments on photographs (online), even if the photographer doesn’t need the feedback. You will improve as a photographer.
  9. Leading up to a wedding, I am always nervous. Once I start shooting however, I get into a groove.
  10. You miss 100% of the photographs you don’t take. (modified from a Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take)
  11. When working as a photography assistant, you only end up taking photos about 1% of the time. The rest of the time you are packing/unpacking merchandise, painting sets, adjusting lighting, etc.
  12. Learn what genres of photography you like and spend a lot of time with them.
  13. Developing E6 film in the complete darkness is fun.
  14. Making colour prints without any safe light is less fun.
  15. A polarizing lens is a must when shooting waterfalls.
  16. Research locations online before visiting them. You will save yourself lots of time in the long run.
  17. Abandoned buildings can be beautiful locations. Be carefull however, as they can also be dangerous.
  18. Lighting is the most important element of a photograph. As long as the lighting is decent, most photographs can be salvaged.
  19. I’m not interested in selling prints. I’m more interested in the experience of taking photographs, and the process of editing them, sharing them, and getting feedback.
  20. Lenses hold their value a lot longer than camera bodies.
  21. I want to be remembered as a photographer.
  22. Bokeh is awesome.
  23. If you shoot at 1/60th of a second, you will need a tripod. 1/30th if you are good.
  24. Ever since I purchased a wide angle lens, I rarely use anything else. (I shoot mostly landscapes)
  25. It’s always exciting to win a photography contest, no matter how many times it has happened before.
  26. Original ideas are hard to come by. Having said that, I do my best to to be original.
  27. There will always be people who put your down in order to make themselves feel better. This includes voting down your photographs online.
  28. Nudity and sexuality are two completely different things.
  29. I prefer natural lighting. Having said that, I need to practice more with studio lights.
  30. You should clean your sensor often; at least once a year.
  31. PLEASE do yourself a favour, and take your flash off the camera. Direct flash is horrible.
  32. While convenient, spraying and praying is not a recommended technique.
  33. I shoot aperture priority 50% of the time, manual 40%, and shutter priority 10%.
  34. Avoid using a high ISO at all costs.
  35. Always shoot RAW.
  36. I rarely print my photographs. This needs to change.
  37. Prepare to look foolish in order to get  the photo you want.
  38. Composition is incredibly important. The rule of thirds works more often than not.
  39. I think about photography more often that I think about sex.
  40. It’s not worth risking your life for a photograph. Be careful.
  41. Having a UV filter on your lens is a good idea. It once saved my lens from being scratched.
  42. You don’t need to replace your camera as often as people would have you believe. I have had the same camera for 5 years (Canon EOS 5D) and have no plans on upgrading in the near future.
  43. Always make sure you have enough film/memory cards.
  44. Backup your photographs.  Twice.
  45. The hardest part about starting up a photography blog is marketing yourself to the world.
  46. Never rely completely on your webhosting company to renew your domain name. It will end in heartbreak. I owned PhotographyWeekly.com for years before my webhosting company was bought out, and the new company failed to renew the domain.
  47. Try shooting in black and white. It will force you to focus more on composition and lighting.
  48. Never rely on family or non-photography friends to critique your work. It will be more back patting than anything else.
  49. There is a difference between a photographer and a guy with a camera.
  50. Better equipment will not necessarily make you a better photographer, just like having better cooking equipment will not make you a better chef.
  51. Control is power. The more control you have over your camera, the better off you will be.
  52. When shooting waterfalls, rivers and streams, I find that 1 second is the minimum exposure needed to get silky smooth water.
  53. I prefer smaller capacity CF cards (2 GB, 4GB) over large capacity CF cards (16GB, 32GB) because cards can fail. I’d rather lose 4GB of photos than 32GB.
  54. It’s difficult to look at your own photographs objectively.
  55. The quality of a photograph and how well it fits into a contest topic are two completely different things.
  56. Photography is subjective, therefore you will not always agree with other people’s opinions.
  57. It’s impossible to take a bad photograph in Iceland. lol.
  58. The more often you take photographs, the better you will be as a photographer.
  59. Developing film and prints on your own, while fun, is probably bad for your health.
  60. You need great patience to be a wildlife photographer. A 400mm lens doesn’t hurt either.
  61. Wedding photography is a serious business. Don’t take it lightly.
  62. Putting a fly in the freezer for 15 minutes before a photo shoot ensures he will stay still. (I have yet to try this)
  63. You can use your hand to stop lens flare when you are shooting in the direction of the sun.
  64. Shooting from a low or high angle will instantly make your photograph more interesting. Shooting from a low angle makes things seem larger or stronger. Shooting from a high angle makes things seems smaller, or less intimidating.
  65. I never get tired of photographs featuring an Aurora Borealis.
  66. Black backdrops are great for portraits since you don’t have to worry about shadows.
  67. Organize your photographs in a way that allows you to find them easily (ex: 05.28.2012.Toronto Zoo).
  68. I don’t like overdone HDR photographs (for the most part).
  69. Sometimes photographs look great on a LCD screen, but lose their beauty when viewed on a computer monitor.
  70. When shooting on location, try shooting from multiple angles.
  71. Always bracket when their is a big difference is lighting within the scene.
  72. Learn what a histogram is and how to read it.
  73. Where you live has a large effect on what you can charge as a photographer. This is especially true for weddings.
  74. Know your apertures and shutter speeds by heart.
  75. I have never expected to win a juried photography contest. In all cases, I was pleasantly surprised. You can’t win if you don’t enter.
  76. The time in my life when I took the least amount of photographs was when I worked 8+ hours a day as a photography assistant. (I am referring to personal photographs here, not work related photographs).
  77. There are some things in life that cannot be properly described in a photograph, such as the scale of the grand canyon.
  78. I still don’t have a good processing workflow for winter scenes.
  79. If you are a commercial photographer, and you edit the final image by placing your face onto a prop in the background (such as a monkey statue), the colour correction department will notice.
  80. If you incorrectly expose your roll of film, you can push or pull during development to salvage your work (within reason).
  81. If you haven’t tried pinhole photography, you probably should.
  82. Light drawing is incredibly fun and creative.
  83. When out shooting, avoid a large camera bag, otherwise you will be exhausted from carrying it around.
  84. Learning how to verbally pose your models is a great asset.
  85. In most cases, including a person in your photograph will make it more interesting.
  86. When you are shooting in a touristy area, don’t expect everyone to be courteous.
  87. I still don’t understand why governments get so uptight about people taking photographs in public places.
  88. Unless your name is Yuri Arcurs, don’t expect to make a living from stock photography. It can be done, but takes years of submissions to get to a point where you can make some a stable income.
  89. Hone your skills as much as possible before travelling to far off destinations, otherwise you will be forever wanting to return to take better photographs.
  90. Adjusting the white balance on your camera can completely change the mood of a photograph, especially when shooting at night.
  91. If you win or place in an important photography contest, notify your local newspapers. You can build up your reputation this way.
  92. Despite what some people may say, shaking a roll of film will not make the exposures blurry.
  93. While I don’t think camera phones will ever replace DSLR’s, I have to admit that the iPhone4s’ camera and video are very impressive.
  94. I’m surprised how difficult it is to give away a free DSLR camera.
  95. If people know you are a photographer, there is a good change someday that someone will offer to give you an old, unused camera.
  96. Sometimes people expect you to take photographs for free. Don’t let people take advantage of you.
  97. If you want to market yourself as a photographer, tools such as Twitter and Facebook are a necessity.
  98. There is no formula to becoming a great photographer. Each person will take their own path.
  99. While film is no longer the popular choice, it will be around for quite some time.
  100. I love photography and hope to being shooting for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “100 Things I have Learned about Photography”

  1. Kristen says:

    Thanks for the list. It’s very informative for an amateur photographer!

  2. Meshari says:

    Thank you so much for the information it gives me 100 steps ahead in photography