So you want to be a photographer…

People are constantly asking me for tips and I send a lot of advice in emails, so I thought I would put up a few basics for those who are trying to break their way into the photography world.  I believe anyone can be a photographer, there is no special club where only the cool people can do it.  All of us have been new once, no one has ever bought a camera and been amazing from day one.  I am constantly learning and trying to be better.  I am my own worst critic and some days I make the mistake of comparing my work to others and feeling like a failure.  Thankfully I know that I need to make my own style, practice some more and HAVE FUN!  The great thing about art is that to be beautiful, it shouldn’t look like someone else’s, it should be a reflection of you, your interpretation of what you see, what you feel when you look at your subject.

I will probably add and expand to this list, but I hope this helps you get started.  Good luck!

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Remember to shoot, shoot, shoot, practice makes perfect.  Take your camera everywhere, inspiration happens when you’re living your life.

TRUST yourself.  Don’t’ take 5 images of the same thing! (Unless you’re messing with settings.)  Take 1 image and move on.  Try giving every image you take a title like you’re telling a story because that is what you’re doing, telling the story of your life.  If you were talking to a friend, would you say:

“Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.  Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.  Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.  Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.  Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.”


“Daddy handed Kelly her brand new blocks.  Kelly was so cute sitting on the ground with her blocks.  She tried to eat the red one!  She cried when we put them all away.  A quick kiss from Daddy cheered her up though!  Look how cute Daddy and Kelly are when they snuggle.”

This seems to be an issue many new photographers have.  Just because we have digital cameras and we CAN take a million images doesn’t mean we should.  Granted there are times when someone would want to take 2 images to make sure they got the shot.  Like changing lighting situations at a photo shoot to make sure you get the important image.  Or family portraits where the baby keeps looking away and the Dad keeps blinking.

Attention to detail!  Making your image look great before you shoot will save you from stopping to readjust and shoot again.  Or sadly look at your images later and play the “I wish I would’ve…”

Check to make sure hair is in place and clothing is straight.  It’s worth the 2 seconds, trust me.  Most women will turn down buying an image because of messy hair or clothing.

Speaking of women, build their confidence by complimenting them and making them feel reassured.  Never shoot up their noses from a lower angle (unless you’re a pro going for something artistic), women look best shot from above(about 1 head length).

With children, don’t be afraid to get crazy!  Be ridiculous, be silly, be loud and boisterous and don’t worry about embarrassment.  Or if your subject is quiet and shy, be quiet and smile.  Giggle and play with your subject to make them feel more at ease.  Be quick!  Have that camera always ready to pop up or you may miss a moment.  Children have about 10-minute attention spans before they become bored.  Take every emotion, happy sad, angry, silly, surprised, worried.  Every portrait should make you FEEL something and the best way to do that is to catch the emotions of your subject, whatever they may be at the moment.  Maybe at 2, they are super shy and that is who they are!   Sometimes parents only want images of their smiling perfectly posed children, but most want to see their child, as they are.  Sometimes the serious ones are the sweetest and take your breath away.

YOU make the image, not your camera.  You don’t need the newest, most expensive, shiniest photography products out there.  Stick with the basics and go from there.  Get an affordable camera and learn how to use it.  Make yourself one with your camera.  Once your camera has fused to your hand and you could use it with your eyes closed, you will be confident and amazing.  You don’t need a $2500.00 tag to make you feel that way.