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Photography Advice {From an Expert}

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

So, I'm kind of a newbie when it comes to the whole photography thing. But, I know a good photographer when I see one. (And, they're fairly hard to come by.)

Lately, I've been feeling inspired by my cousin Jared's work. He's a street photographer based in Toronto, Canada, and his work is, well, excellent. (All the photos in this post are his - check out more on his website and Flickr.) I really look up to him - and I hope that in the future I can be as poignant a storyteller as he is through images.

Jared recently posted the things he's learned about photography since he started two years ago. I thought his commentary was right on - and that it needed to be shared with anyone interested in pursuing a similar passion. So, without further ado, Jared's What I've Learned About Photography:

I love taking pictures. I've been taking pictures on a regular basis for two and a half years now. "A regular basis" means I go out shooting at least once a week. Lately its been more like four or five times a week. I've taken over 25'000 photos which, if spread out evenly, averages to about 25 photos a day for the last 1000 days.

Anyway, I'm definitely not saying that I'm a great photographer or even a good photographer. What I am saying is that I'm passionate about photography. I've spent the last 2.5 years of my life breathing photography. I've learned a few things, to say the least. I wanted to get some of the things I've learned down on paper, at the very least for myself, but perhaps some of these tips might help some of you who are starting out or simply interested in learning more about taking good photos.

1) Shoot quantity over quality show people quality over quantity. Shoot all the time, take photos of everything. The more photos you take the better you'll get. When in doubt, snap the photo. Don't hold out for that amazing shot because you don't know what will turn out. Some of my best photos have been random shots I thought I would discard. However, regardless of how many photos you are taking, only show your best shots. No one cares about the 200 photos you took last night. You're as good as your best and as bad as your worst. You are your own publicist.

2) Go places, find things. Before brilliant photos can be made they must be found. When I started shooting, I thought it would be a great medium to document the adventures I was already having, before long photography turned into the source of most of my adventures. When I go out shooting, I'm going out searching, exploring, looking for shots. Try to photograph things people don't usually see. Or things that they do see in a way that they haven't seen them before.

3) Shoot in multiples. No matter what you're shooting or how you envision it looking, always take multiple shots. I'm a street photographer, on the streets everything is continuously in motion, I can't see it all. Often something will happen that I didn't expect or didn't see that ruins the photo. A weird look or movement an awkward juxtaposition or simply an unappealing expression. I shoot multiple times to give myself some breathing room when I go through my shots later.

4) Seek genuine unbiased feedback. Chances are your photos aren't as good as your friends say they are. Find someone who is willing to give you honest constructive feedback, someone who will rip your photos apart. Ideally this would be a photographer better than yourself. It's hard to see where you need to improve if you're stuck in the whirlwind of well meaning comments from friends and family.

5) Equipment doesn't matter. When it comes to building skill and learning how to take good pictures, equipment doesn't matter. Equipment matters when you are shooting for a specific reason and need a specific type of shot. Every time you pick up a new camera or lens you are essentially starting from scratch with that piece of equipment. When you are learning, the thing that matters most is how well you know your camera. Pick a camera and a lens you like and shoot with that setup (and only that setup) for a year and see what happens.

6) Pick your style. Find an area of photography you like and stick with it. You would never go to university and major in every subject. The same applies to photography. To really get better you can't do everything. I've never seen a famous photographer that shoots everything. They pick an area and do it. Street Photography, landscape, documentary, portrait etc. Find something you like and get good at it.

7) LOOK AT OTHER PEOPLES PHOTOS. I can't stress this enough. Buy photo books. Browse Flickr. Subscribe to national geographic. Seeing great photos is the best tool to teach you to take great photos. How do people who really know what they are doing shoot? What do they see? How do they frame things?

I hope this will be helpful to some of you, but as I said it was more for me than anyone else.


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