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.

tips4Over the past couple of years, I have responded to hundreds of Facebook , Twitter, sms, email messages with requests ranging from ;

“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;

 

  1. Dress appropriately, depending on which assignment you are covering
  2. Always smile at the people you are photographing. It strikes a connection and at the same time relaxing them.
  3. 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.
  4. Know your camera. Read, understand and put into practice the different functions of your camera.
  5. Copy compositions you think cut it for you but don’t stop there, Perfect them
  6. A picture is as good as the story behind it.
  7. Sometimes, overly exposed shots are creatively beautiful
  8. Learn to genuinely criticize your work
  9. Never stop reading and learning new tricks. In this digital era, photography is evolving every day.
  10. “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.3
  11. Even professional photographers have bad bad bad pictures. They choose only good ones for you to see. Don’t get discouraged.
  12. 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.
  13. Never stop comparing your work with the best in the business, especially those who inspire you
  14. If you cant get your pants dirty, then you should try being a doctor, not a photographer.
  15. It’s safer to underexpose. But I would encourage you to find that perfect exposure.
  16. Never stop having a curious mind
  17. Develop your niche and perfect it. Others choose to specialize in war photography, wedding photography, wild life photography, Flowers, Stones..
  18. Once in a while, photograph for free. Its good to give back.
  19. Photography and alcohol don’t quite match
  20. Mistakes are twofold. At times, you get great shots my mistake and other times, a mistake can cost you a great shot.
  21. Move on from a bad day in the office. It should only make you a better photographer.
  22. The best camera is the world is your eye. Try outcompeting it.
  23. Learn to compose a perfect first shot. It sets your mindset towards the rest of the shoot.
  24. Many have said it before me. Allow me repeat it too. No picture is worth your life. If it is dangerous, move away immediately.
  25. LIGHT should be your best friend
  26. Try to be calm
  27. Share your work (Website, blogs, flikr, Google +, Pinterest etc). You never know who your next idol will be.
  28. Pray before any assignmenttips3
  29. Share your gear (Cameras) with people you ABSOLUTELY trust.
  30. Keep Time.
  31. If you haven’t got a good sunset shot before in your life, then you haven’t started photography yet.
  32. No condition is bad for photography. Its how you use that condition to your advantage that matters.
  33. Eat. Eat. Eat. It’s never a good idea to shoot on an empty stomach.
  34. Share your work with someone more experienced. They will point out your weakness and strength. It’s healthy for you.
  35. 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.
  36. Mobile Phone cameras have become the most widely circulated cameras in the world. Use them everyday.
  37. Take short breaks once in a while to refresh your mind and ideas.
  38. 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).
  39. Walk regularly. It’s unlikely that you will get great shots inside that Range Rover of yours.
  40. Take sometime to gym or do exercises. Stiffness limits your flexibility.
  41. 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.
  42. Trust your guts
  43. Never lack time to listen to and inspire budding photographers. Create the time. You were once as bad, if not worse.
  44. Never be afraid to charge what you think is worth your price. As long as you can deliver of course.
  45. Be ethical. Respect your profession and the people you photograph.Tips2
  46. Every camera, including you phone can take award-winning photos. The key is to first photography before you complain about how your camera sucks.
  47. Avoid repetition of shots. In other words, avoid being predictable in your composition.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. 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.

53 thoughts on “50 Tips for African Photographers

  1. Dear Echwalu,
    This is, Again, a great post!
    Will be leaving myself for Madagascar next week,and these 50 sentences you wrote down are added to my private bible.
    Thank you

    Belinda (artist)
    Amsterdam

    • Belinda,

      Its awesome to note that i have somehow made it your “Private Photography Bible”..

      And now you are making me look forward to your exploits or should i say, your harvest while in Madagascar.

      I have just followed your blog, so i shouldn’t miss your documentation in that beautiful country.

      Thanks for passing by my blog. I appreciate the time you spent here.

      Cheers

  2. Thanks for the tips. I feel that criticism is very important but I have always found it difficult to find people who would give me advice, who would tell me where I should go next, what I should do to progress.

    • Melimelo,

      I do agree with you. I struggled to get such a person too. It took me about 2 years to get a genuine person. Shockingly, it wasn’t even a photographer!

      You need someone who understands what you stand for as an artist.Someone who understands your passion or at least can tell. Someone who can listen, and see your artistry soul.Someone who can tell you “your pictures suck” and you take it in good faith. Someone who should give you pointers to what would be good for you as a Photographer.

      However, when all is said and done, What you should know is that, You hold the path to your progress and all others do is facilitate that. Never stop looking for that person.

      I just bookmarked your project. I will be closely monitoring your progress.

      Thanks again for passing by and leaving a genuine comment behind.

      Cheers

  3. Pingback: Photo of the day: Stay Alive | bigsamphotography

    • That is true! I thought i would narrow it down for the “African” search. But thanks agin

      You have been doing amazing work yourself btw!

    • Thanks MizPage. Just o you know, you have been one of my most consistent visitors over the years! And i really appreciate!

      As for the upgrade, i need to know what phone you use. If it is an iPhone, then we shall need to talk.

      Cheers

  4. Thnx edward,uve always inspired me frm the very first I saw yo work,that’s how I fell in love with photography,and my dream as a professional photographer emerged.well check out my test shots on my quest for shadows on our page on facebook (Blink MEDIA)will app,yo advise again.

  5. Inspiring!!
    Currently,i am an amateur,but working at being a professional.
    Thank You so much for this…it has given me so much hope.
    An your photos are amazing.

    • Lena,

      What exactly do you do? In other words, where are you with your photography right now.Sometimes you might actually be doing professional work sub-consciously. Any way i can help???

      • Hi,sorry for the late reply.
        I am currently shooting photos of everything and anything,from sunsets to yard sales until i find a niche.
        Also,is editing photos a must in photography?Especially on an amateur level.
        Thank You

  6. Pingback: 50 Tips for African Photographers | Bwette Photography

  7. Nice blogg!
    And I really appreciate the advices that you given. It´s hard to know if you are doing things “right”, know what I mean?
    Then I really like watching photos of other countrys. A few years back i was travelling and working abroad alot, I just wish I had the photography
    as a hobby at that time…
    I am following!

    • Bjorn, i believe all of us have different experiences, amateur ot professional. And you never know how who could be touched by them.

      The act of taking photos is a very important one in terms of freezing important memories in our lives…You can only truly idolise a picture, however badly composed or exposed, after two or three years…

      Please, even your phone can do magic. Just learn to enjoy yourself..Take all the casual pictures you come across and PLEASE, DONT DELETE ANY.

      Cheers again for visiting my blog

  8. I LoVE YoUR PHoToGRaPHY PhiLoSophY… ;D
    VeRY SimuLaR 2 Mi OwN ThoughT’s oN ThE WonDeRFuL WoRLD oF CreaTiNG MaGiC ViA ThE LeN’S..❤
    YoUR PhoToGraPH'S aRE BeauTiFuL & I LoVE ThE SToRieS TheY TeLL..😀
    I'Ve NeVeR Bee a FoLLoWER…..
    I GuESS I'VE EvoLvED..lol Mi FoLLoWinG YoU… JuST CaLL Mi ThE STaLkER lol ;D
    HaPpY ToMoRRoW'S!! X;D

    • This the most creative comment i’ve ever received since i started blogging….Amazing how the comment kept me glued to the screen!

      Now you need to come more often! I loved every line! Very refreshing! Am instantly gonna bookmark your blog too becoz you have raised my curiosity!

      Welcome home!

  9. Pingback: 50 Tips for African Photographers ::mX:: likes this | MissXooley's Blog

  10. Thank you so much for sharing these 50 tips! I learned a lot from reading them. And your photography is awe-inspiring. I’m a new and huge fan of your work. blessings to you on all your projects and travels.

  11. 50 worthy tips. These tips will help photographers all around the world. Most of the tips guides photographers to be better Human beings.

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