It was difficult narrowing this list down to only five, but I think I caught myself saying these the most. A few years ago I believed I was a photographer. I put the camera on auto mode, I'd take a picture, I'd edit that picture into something amazing (horrible), I'd post it to social media, it'd get a couple likes and then I would repeat. Now, after a couple college courses, doing it for a living and a having it as a side business, I definitely do not call myself a photographer.
After stepping back I asked myself “why aren't I a photographer?” I came up with these five things I caught myself saying, that a photographer definitely wouldn't say.
1. "I need a better camera."
I think we all agree that having a fancy DSLR could benefit anyone. Absolutely. However, if you're not understanding composition, shutter speed, apertures, histograms, and picture profiles, what good is that expensive camera anyway. For example, say a photographer shows up to a portrait session, with just a cell phone. The photographer uses a 3 point lighting setup, changes the manual settings within his phone to add some depth, and then takes a few pictures. Chances are with all that effort before the shot, the photos will look great. Now imagine someone showing up to a portrait session with a canon 5D MK IV, puts it on auto, and snaps a few photos without realizing they're not even shooting in raw and their ISO is through the roof… I'll let you be the judge of those photos, just don't let the better camera fool you.
2. “Don't tell competitors your gear.”
This was my go to. I always wanted to hide everything in my bag when I was around someone else who takes photos for a living. Not because I was embarrassed for what I had, but because I didn't want anyone to know how I was taking my photos… and now here I am blogging about it.. weird right? Always be open about your photography. There is no other You. Sure, there are thousands of other people with your camera, with your lens, with your editing software, but there are no other combinations of your eye for photos, and that gear. Sure, they could try to match your style, or re-create one of your images, but in photography that's a compliment.
3. “It doesn't matter.”
Chances are, it does. When “photographers” say the time of day doesn't matter, or the outfit doesn't matter, they may not be thinking of why it does. For example, plaid clothing is common now-a-days, right? Well what if someone wore a plaid shirt but the backdrop they wanted was a stripped pattern? Or their environment was just as busy as that shirt? Not only will it produce a bad photo, but it could hurt your rep as well. So the next time you say “it doesn't matter" chances are it does.
4. “I only use Auto.”
Ouch. This one hurts. This is a common thing when the manual mode seems intimidating. Everyone has taken bad pictures on manual mode, even professionals, but that's the beauty of photography. You can look at the photos you just took, analyze what went wrong, and adjust it. It takes practice just like anything else you want to be good at. Start by understanding the end goal of a photo, and let that decide your settings. Don't let the settings impact your end product.
5. “I'll do it for free.”
Now this one was tough to put down, and I debated it from the start. But, I do feel that it's important. Now I'm not saying beginner photographers should go out and start charging for photo sessions when they shouldn't be. But that doesn't mean your service has to be paid in cash. I'm saying a good way to get started in photography is making deals. For example, leaving reviews on your website or Google page is a great start. Sure it's not cash, but it could generate more and more opportunities, giving you more practice. Another example would be “sure I'll take your photos without charging, but can I use them to market my photography?” Again, you don't need to charge money when you know you're not ready for it, but you can set yourself up for the future.