When starting out your photography journey you might’ve heard about these and thought – is there any truth to these? I remember hearing about them and letting them affect me in the beginning of my journey and not knowing we can decide if they are true or not. Here are some facts about photography I wish I knew when starting out.
1. You need to know about technics
Fact: This was one the biggest for me. I thought I had to know about technicality and was anxious whenever a fellow photographer would approach me asking what lens was I shooting with.
For me, it was always about the storytelling, and technology only came with analogue photography. I would even state that analogue photography taught me about technicality without the burden of needing to learn.
It was the natural way to get to know how my camera worked and it was even fun at the same time. Except when 3 rolls of film from a trip to Norway came out empty. But I survived.
Digital photography on the other hand was something I had a hard time learning. Yes, eventually you will need to know the basics of aperture, shutter speed and ISO but if you’re just drawn to the visual side of photography, shooting with your phone is perfectly fine in the beginning.
Learning as you go and understanding how everything works before you invest in expensive equipment is way more important.
2. You need to have the best equipment
Fact: Frankly, it’s not necessary in the beginning. You can buy an old camera from a thrift shop or even buy a disposable one. However, you need to have better photography equipment when considering the quality of the photograph.
This is because analogue and inexpensive digital cameras do not provide enough high resolution to your images, and they cannot be stretched fr larger showcasing.
Focus on the reasons you started photography in the first place and put effort in learning more about composition, lighting and directing people.
3. Art photography and commercial photography don’t mix
Fact: There is a certain taboo about mixing art and commercial photography; some artists feel ashamed when needing to decide between one or the other.
If you’ve studied art photography, commercial photography would make you a sellout. But this is just what is socially acceptable; many artists have this misconception that creating an income by mixing these two is not the essence of being a true artist.
Indeed, it is wise to have a specific style and focus on a theme, but in no way should it make you question whether you can make a living out of commercial photography along with creating your art.
A very little amount of photographers live only out of art photography alone.
When creating art and working in the commercial world, you would of course have to decide what you edit and show to your audience.
In this way, you can narrow your focus and specify where you fall as a photographer.
Deciding whether you want to be seen as an artist or editorial photographer, you would then decide also which images and bodies of work you present on your website and social media.
Clarifying this to yourself will also make it easier for the right audience and clients to find you, since not being clear enough with what you exactly produce might make your audience confused too.
4. Art photography will ensure an income after graduation
Fact: Initially, I thought this to be true for some time, which led me to only wait to get into an academy before I started to truly look into the whole mechanism of being a photographer.
I want to underline it here: do not wait until you’ve gotten to study to an academy before you start earning an income or growing as a photography artist.
You can start earning an income with little photoshoots or start sending your work to magazines or festivals way before you actually graduate from any degree. The sooner you start the better. We have the world wide web and finding the information you need is at everyones disposal.
For instance, if you can hustle with your photography, applying to open calls, and sending out your portfolio to magazines / other relevant platforms, you will eventually build a career out of it. First, decide which is the main direction you want to take – you want to make art photography or move over to commercial photography? After deciding on these relevant matters, it’s easier for you to see the right platforms to work with. Everyone is not for everyone.
Having a degree in fine arts is not necessary for you to create and shoot some excellent photos. To become an advanced photographer all you need to do is learn the basics and pick up a camera and start shooting.
You will fail, but it’s from the failures that all great photographers have acquired the knowledge and experience to create some truly stunning photography.
5. You’ll need to consume art all the time
Fact: Firstly, being interested in art in any form will be your guide in finding inspiration. Secondly, you should be understanding the reasons and history behind your artistic choices, but it shouldn’t be the main reason. It indeed did feel that I couldn’t make art because I was too much of a practical personality.
I thought for a long time I couldn’t mix this trait with the contemporary photography.
This disconnection had me avoiding the artistic field to the point where I felt overwhelmed trying to understand what I was doing.
However, one book that I found helpful was Charlotte Cottons The Photograph As Contemporary Art. It gives some insight into the methodologies and photography artists of our time.
I would suggest to read it through if you’re looking for an introduction to contemporary photography or even have a vague understanding of art photography.
In the end, the thoughts we believe become our reality. If we let our limiting beliefs or the opinions of others dictate how we proceed with our dreams and goals, we enforce them to become the reality. We all have different paths in creating our photography careers; you just need to choose the one for you.
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