18 Photography Things You’ve (Hopefully) Been Doing All Along

Right, that’s a title implying, “18 Things You’ve (Probably) Been Doing Wrong.” Anyways, here we go:

  1. Back to Basics: Photography is first and foremost about aperture and shutter speed. That’s what defines images. Modes? Bracketing? HDR? Multiple exposures? Time to go back to the roots.
  2. Settings, D’oh! The camera remembers, you don’t. Forgot again you changed settings when shooting the other day?
  3. Experience: By seeking and blundering we learn. You can’t be a good photographer if you only capture wonderful things. A great many photographers ignore experience. Even Apple assures us, “Have the iPhone take a better picture.” Stop learning, what’s the point of experience if Apple does the work for you…? Screw experience? Yes she’s a b**ch. Stubborn, tiring, relentless, uncompromising. That’s experience, the photography teacher nobody wants.
  4. Less Is More: Nobody calls you HCB, and good photography has little to do with weird filters, super plugins, added grittiness, magic potions or any other fancy trickery. Rely on you yourself and try to draw the eye to an attraction. Find and develop your own style.
  5. Being a Composer: The most exciting subject/object looks bland if not properly framed/cropped.
  6. Size Matters…: Serious photography equals serious gear? If you can’t make solid photos with the least of equipment, the likelihood is high that photos shot with the best of equipment look like from the very equipment we commonly belittle.
  7. Of Dirt and Dust: Avoid changing lenses at all costs in wind, weather, haste, no matter how supersonic the camera’s dust reduction system is. However, don’t get in the habit of cleaning body and lenses daily or you’ll do more damage than good.
  8. A Good Photographer Kills for Good Light: Getting up early not only presents with the best of lights, you also avoid hordes of other people that ruin great places of interest. And you avoid the middle of the day. No Photoshop tool will help you salvage bright sunlight.
  9. Natural Light Rules: Natural light is king, but even the most basic of flashes serves as a handy filler to brighten deep shadow areas and draw the eye to the center of attention.
  10. Show Respect: Pity the few (some hyperactive street photogs) who seem to shoot to kill, without a smile, no asking, no respect. May their gear turn into dust.
  11. Don’t Trust Anyone: Tired of selfies? And still holding on to the belief that a passerby is capable of snapping a perfectly nice picture of you posing? 99.99% of all strangers that are given a camera can’t take an even remotely decent shot. You might as well hand the camera to a toddler and be positively surprised.
  12. Focal Identity: Wide is for the bold who dare to tell stories. The longer you go, the further away you remove yourself from what matters. If you’re not a news, sports or wildlife photographer, go long only for portraits.
  13. 3D: Think three-dimensional. Create a sense of depth.
  14. Bokeh’s an Elusion: Where’s the challenge of bokeh? Try without. Or can you name a single masterpiece photograph with blurred, buttery background? Portrait work yes. Outstanding photography is almost exclusively about telling a whole story by capturing a whole image, not just a subject/object. Anyone can shoot with bokeh. But not everyone without. Have another look at Sebastião Salgado‘s work. No bokeh whatsoever.
  15. Sharpness: Sharpness is one and only one aspect of a good photograph. Or as one famous master of the trade said, “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” Why care so much about details we never see in real life? Or get a microscope.
  16. JPEGs vs. RAW: JPEGs are for peasants. Right.
  17. Never Give Up: Insist. And you’ll be rewarded with better photographs.
  18. Give Your Photos a Life: A good photograph breathes. There’s life in a good photograph. It’s this hint of inherent life that decides between average and outstanding photography.