My reasons for writing this post? Well I met two pretty awesome A Level photography students today who were looking for advice and just a general chat about how I’ve got to where I am today.
I was wracking my brains in order to try and think of everything that I would have liked to have been told before I threw myself blindly into this industry, and three major points came out:
1) DON’T LISTEN TO STUPID PEOPLE OR PEOPLE THAT MAKE YOU FEEL STUPID. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY.
This goes for anyone, whether they are in a position of power or someone being nosey. If you want to ask a question about something even very simple, don’t feel stupid about it, and if that person makes you feel stupid then don’t ask them or don’t listen.
I was belittled by many people along the way, and it still happens now. Predominantly by middle aged, male photographers with lenses so big they might as well advertise that they are trying to compensate for a distinct lack of appendage.
Even tutors – my university HATED my work, they hated fashion and tried to push me into documentary or conceptual art photography. That isn’t what I do, or wanted to do, or enjoyed. Why would I do something I didn’t enjoy just to please tutors and hit grade boundaries?
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that SOME tutors (not all), are in that job because they didn’t have the drive to make it themselves as a photographer. This isn’t always the case, some do it for the love of teaching, but you really have to choose your battles wisely and work out whose opinion is worth listening to.
If someone is constructively criticising your work that could benefit you and push your career forward, if someone is maliciously criticising then if you let it affect you it could push you backwards.
Learn to identify who’s out to get you, and who’s out to help you.
2) DON’T LET OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS OR OLDER PHOTOGRAPHERS MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO HAVE LOTS OF MONEY AND EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT TO SUCCEED.
My first camera was a film camera – an Olympus OM10, it cost £50 from London Camera Exchange and I couldn’t afford a flash for it.
My first digital SLR was a Pentax *ist 12.6mpx. Second hand from London Camera Exchange for like £150. It’s so old that I tried to sell it to a popular second hand website recently that they told me no one in their offices had even seen that camera before so they couldn’t price it let alone take it off my hands.
My third camera was once again second hand, a Nikon D40, I bought it off a friend in Bowl Xtreme car park. In the dark. Like some kind of weird camera deal. It cost me £250.
I got a compatible Nissin flashgun for it and that lasted me until second year of university. It wasn’t until halfway through 2012 that I could even consider being able to upgrade from the D40 and afford a Nikon D7000.
And then when I recently upgraded to a D800, that was only because I got a business loan through The Prince’s Trust.
I am SICK of hearing people bang on about how you need money to succeed. If you have the drive and the want to progress, not to mention the talent, then you can achieve whatever you want to.
I also bumped along the bottom working in and out of people’s living rooms with a studio kit that cost me £50 from eBuyer.co.uk, lights that didn’t even flash and a 6’x6′ muslin backdrop that took HOURS to iron, until as recently as 4 months ago. I once shot an entire clothing campaign in my bedroom and no one would ever be able to tell…
3) IF YOU AREN’T BEING TAUGHT THE CORRECT THINGS FOR POST PRODUCTION OR HOW TO USE YOUR CAMERA THEN USE YOUTUBE TUTORIALS AND BOOKS! OLD.FASHIONED.BOOKS.
This is fairly self explanatory – college taught me very little about post production, especially airbrushing and how to tidy up a fashion image.
Uni taught me how to make people look like they belong in some hideous 80’s American school yearbook.
Youtube tutorials are your best friend, and books, get advice from BOOKS! One of my favourite books in terms of retouching the skin/hair/body/clothes is by Scott Kelby: PROFESSIONAL RETOUCHING TECHNIQUES FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS
So in short – stand up for yourself, don’t let money determine your destiny and if you aren’t being taught what you need to know, don’t sit there and wait for it to come to you, FIND IT!
Thank you ❤