50 Tips for African Photographers
The expectations you carry as a professional photographer are immense.
On top of delivering on your personal projects, assignments and commissions, a string of colleagues, budding photographers are looking up to you for inspiration.
“how do I become a photographer; teach me how to take nice photos; which camera do you recommend I buy to take better photos etc…etc “
I’ve physically met many. Some really genuine ones and others who honestly don’t know what they want to do in life. However it’s important to give everybody a chance to be heard.
I have thus come up with 50 tips for both professional, near professional and budding photographers, sourced from my personal experience over the years;
- Dress appropriately, depending on which assignment you are covering
- Always smile at the people you are photographing. It strikes a connection and at the same time relaxing them.
- Compliment their smiles, the colours of their cloths, how photogenic they are. Many people will tell you they are not photogenic even if they are.
- Know your camera. Read, understand and put into practice the different functions of your camera.
- Copy compositions you think cut it for you but don’t stop there, Perfect them
- A picture is as good as the story behind it.
- Sometimes, overly exposed shots are creatively beautiful
- Learn to genuinely criticize your work
- Never stop reading and learning new tricks. In this digital era, photography is evolving every day.
- “Edward, you ain’t as good as they claim. Focus!” is how I react to compliments/ praises from people about my work. Don’t get carried away.
- Even professional photographers have bad bad bad pictures. They choose only good ones for you to see. Don’t get discouraged.
- Always do backups. Budding photographers have this casual way of treating their pictures. For some reason they always think they are bad pictures. You need to have a record of how you started and maybe then you will appreciate how far you have grown.
- Never stop comparing your work with the best in the business, especially those who inspire you
- If you cant get your pants dirty, then you should try being a doctor, not a photographer.
- It’s safer to underexpose. But I would encourage you to find that perfect exposure.
- Never stop having a curious mind
- Develop your niche and perfect it. Others choose to specialize in war photography, wedding photography, wild life photography, Flowers, Stones..
- Once in a while, photograph for free. Its good to give back.
- Photography and alcohol don’t quite match
- Mistakes are twofold. At times, you get great shots my mistake and other times, a mistake can cost you a great shot.
- Move on from a bad day in the office. It should only make you a better photographer.
- The best camera is the world is your eye. Try outcompeting it.
- Learn to compose a perfect first shot. It sets your mindset towards the rest of the shoot.
- Many have said it before me. Allow me repeat it too. No picture is worth your life. If it is dangerous, move away immediately.
- LIGHT should be your best friend
- Try to be calm
- Share your work (Website, blogs, flikr, Google +, Pinterest etc). You never know who your next idol will be.
- Pray before any assignment
- Share your gear (Cameras) with people you ABSOLUTELY trust.
- Keep Time.
- If you haven’t got a good sunset shot before in your life, then you haven’t started photography yet.
- No condition is bad for photography. Its how you use that condition to your advantage that matters.
- Eat. Eat. Eat. It’s never a good idea to shoot on an empty stomach.
- Share your work with someone more experienced. They will point out your weakness and strength. It’s healthy for you.
- Your buddies should be the last to critique your work. They will always tell you how your pictures are amazing. And you cannot blame them. They are just being good friends. Friends support each other.
- Mobile Phone cameras have become the most widely circulated cameras in the world. Use them everyday.
- Take short breaks once in a while to refresh your mind and ideas.
- Don’t tweet and Facebook while photographing. That’s too much distraction. Trust me, you will miss a great shot while trying to maximize those 140 characters (twitter).
- Walk regularly. It’s unlikely that you will get great shots inside that Range Rover of yours.
- Take sometime to gym or do exercises. Stiffness limits your flexibility.
- Avoid dressing in bright colours. You are always trying to be invisible as a photographer in order to capture scenes in the most natural of ways. Bright Colours will be surrendering you every time.
- Trust your guts
- Never lack time to listen to and inspire budding photographers. Create the time. You were once as bad, if not worse.
- Never be afraid to charge what you think is worth your price. As long as you can deliver of course.
- Be ethical. Respect your profession and the people you photograph.
- Every camera, including you phone can take award-winning photos. The key is to first photography before you complain about how your camera sucks.
- Avoid repetition of shots. In other words, avoid being predictable in your composition.
- Allow criticism too. Sometimes your work really sucks and you’ve got to know it however much it hurts. It should catalyze you to shoot better images the next time.
- Photoshoping is no sign of weakness as a photographer. Hundreds have racked millions out of photoshoping. If people indeed disapproved of their work, they wouldn’t have earned even a penny.
- Have as much fan as possibly you can. Photography is beyond just a hobby; it should be a life style. Enjoy it.
Share your experiences in the comments section please.