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10 Keys to Being a Good Photographer

KIKE CALVO

  1. Training:

Although photography is considered an art, and many people are born with the skills and talent to achieve good photographs, training in any field is essential. As David Griffin, the Director of Photography at National Geographic said in a speech in Washington, nowadays everyone has one or two large (great) photographs. However, to become a professional, one should be able produce and repeat photographic results again and again, no matter where one is working, the weather or one’s mood. It is also essential to know and understand the technical side, not to mention the aesthetic, which have been the parameters of different eras, it can be a very good tool to force and complement our talent, innate or not. We, as photographers can read books and attend exhibitions, gaining knowledge as autodidacts, as is the case of many, such as Sebastiao Salgado or I. As in most academic and artistic disciplines, it is important to continue studying throughout one’s entire career. Photographers today must be multidisciplinary professionals, slaking our thirst for knowledge from various fields that may not always be complementary. Sometimes, for many of us, we only train professionally once. A few days ago I wrote an article called 10 Famous Photographers and Their Lessonsin which you may discover some basics that are important not to forget.

  1. The Team:

“It is because of the Indian and not the arrow.” However, to take the plunge and compete in this tough job market, it requires some basic equipment. We must remember that the cameras, lenses and lights are simply tools, and as such, we must adapt them to our needs and styles. It is good to ask for advice, but ultimately only we as individuals have the power to decide which will be our ¨armas¨ of work. In my case, I started slowly, with borrowed cameras, creating photographs for various companies over time.

  1. Research:

Instead of spending time criticizing others, I believe it is much more efficient, conciliatory and useful, to learn about and respect the work of other photographers. Following in the steps of photographers we admire, will help us continue to dream, to see and learn about things we still do not know, and put into context tools and techniques we have developed on our own. We must also learn about and study composition through painting and photography, which will help us unconsciously, when we press the shutter. Our eye will learn to strategically look at the four corners of the display. We must be inspired and delighted, but make sure not to plagiarize. I have been writing a series of articles online in Spanish related to photography for some time now, be sure to visit my website if you want to know a little more about my views and lessons learned.

  1. Experiment:

Once you understand these basic concepts of photography, we can enter the arduous and complex world of breaking the rules. We must experiment by using different techniques, looking for our own personal style. It will be these experiments and risks, which will lead us to develop our own personal style that will become more unique and easily discernable over the years. When people see your work, and can identify it with your name, only then will you be entering a new creative phase, and begin to discover your own school.

  1. Show the World our Work:

The best way to show your work to the world is by having it displayed in exhibitions or galleries, as well as creating entries in a personal blog. If you keep your photos in a file or in some dark corner of your computer or hard drive you will never get to see your work discovered, admired, rented or purchased.

  1. Contests:

Contests, in some ways can force us to follow a set of parameters. Without realizing it, they can help to put our work in perspective alongside many other professionals or amateurs. Although it is important not to forget that photography has to come from something inside. Our art should reflect a study of our inner selves, and not as a way to impress others. It can be compared to the practice of yoga, rather than an elite sporting competition. It is important that if you become a full time photographer with a company that you will keep the rights to the images sent at all times.

  1. Socialize:

Photographers are often individualistic by the nature of our business, and it often hinders us from sharing our stories and techniques. In the times to come, I think photography will become community work. By socializing with others who are in the field of photography, we can cultivate important exchanges of knowledge, experience and advice that will help us as professionals and enrich us as people. For a long time, I myself lived immersed in my own creative world, without much contact with other people in the trade. I learned that giving is receiving, and that there is no greater pleasure for me than to share the lessons learned along the way with new generations of photographers.

  1. Specialization:

The art of photography is an open canvas. It encompasses numerous technical branches such as travel, fashion, documentary photography and weddings. My advice to you is to put your energy from the beginning into trying to develop a portfolio that directly links to what you want to shoot in the future. If we work photographing weddings, and our dream is humanitarian photography, it will be very difficult to make the transition in the future. This is true by the very nature of life and its complexities, and secondly, because it will be difficult to convince our customers of this new specialization.

  1. Invest:

We must invest in ourselves, and our career. Only you can be your best agent. Once we are clear what our scope of work is in photography, we have to make an investment. Not purely an economic investment in computers, and cameras, but we must also invest in developing a network of subjects, and most importantly we must invest in our dreams—morally, ethically, and spiritually for our future. This is what will enable us to open many doors, and also make the world a much nicer and brighter place. And please do not forget to smile.That this the best investment.

  1. Strive:

Photography is not an easy road. In fact, life is not. It is a profession that requires much effort and perseverance. It is a profession that has been democratized by social networks and technology, a profession where competition has grown disproportionately. As photographers, we must be in continuous search. Searching to find our way, both geographically as well as inside. No one will give away anything. Although the work is hard, yes, it will surely be difficult to remove the smile from one’s lips after capturing that incredible moment in the camera sensor. And do not forget, no matter how hard the road, we should take more steps along the way, and remember that there are more options than one. Keep dreaming as creators, and hope that life gives us many years to live.

    10+1. ¨Never Stop Dreaming!¨ – Kike Calvo

 

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Further reading:

10 Big Rules of Photography or So I Think

10 Lesson Learned with the Heart of a Photographer

 

Learn more:

The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life

The Beginner’s Photography Guide

Mastering Digital Photography: Jason Youn’s Essential Guide to Understanding the Art & Science of Aperture, Shutter, Exposure, Light, & Composition

La vision del fotografo: Entender y apreciar la buena fotografia (Spanish Edition)

Fotografia Paso a Paso, La (Spanish Edition)

National Geographic Stunning Photographs

National Geographic Image Collection

Visions of Paradise

Through the Lens: National Geographic Greatest Photographs (National Geographic Collectors Series)

National Geographic: The Photographs (National Geographic Collectors Series)

In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (National Geographic Collectors Series)

 

How-to Photography Books:

Perfect Digital Photography(Second edition)

National Geographic Complete Photography

National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Photography: Revised and Expanded (Photography Field Guides)

National Geographic: The Ultimate Field Guide to Landscape Photography (National Geographic Photography Field Guides)

National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Travel Photography (National Geographic Photography Field Guides)

Travel and Street Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision

Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

The Photographer’s Vision: Understanding and Appreciating Great Photography

 

The Business of Photography:

How Photographs are Sold: Stories and Examples of How Fine Art Photographers Sell Their Work

2015 Photographer’s Market

Marketing Fine Art Photography

Pricing Photography: The Complete Guide to Assignment and Stock Prices

The Photographer’s Survival Guide: How to Build and Grow a Successful Business

The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion

ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography

Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition

MORE Best Business Practices for Photographers

Copyright Workflow for Photographers: Protecting, Managing, and Sharing Digital Images