The best photography tips for beginners from an expert
What I learned the hard way
by MATT WARRELL
Here’s the summary of photography tips for beginners that you’ve never heard before from experts. These photography tips are a mix directly from myself and other photographers that have taken years to learn. They might sound simple, but you shouldn’t underestimate the difference in our work before and after we discovered these tips. Photography is not able to be measured in quality, but the quality of the lessons we learn is glaringly obvious when we look back on what we didn’t know when we were beginner photographers.
Photography is all about communication
No matter what style of photography you do, photography is all about communication. Communication between you and the subject is important, but the type of communication I am referring to is between the final work and your audience.
To communicate effectively you need to know why you’re taking the photo. What do you want your audience to feel? That’s an easy question once you take into consideration how you felt when you took the photo. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself when you’re taking the photo:
- Why am I taking the photo?
- What is the subject feeling?
- How did witnessing the event make me feel when I took the photo?
- What is the environment making me feel?
You might come up with your own questions to ask when taking a photo. The above four questions are what forces me to explore the basis of communication for the work I am producing. If you don’t think about your communication, you will not set yourself apart from the hundreds of other photographers capturing moments with their smartphones. After all, the saying “everyone is a photographer nowadays” has to come from somewhere!
Less is more
I still struggle with this concept, and definitely give my clients too many photos. Oversupply is just as damaging to your reputation as undersupply. Giving your clients too many photos to choose from will make it difficult to choose a photo. It can lead to the client not using any of the photos at all because the choice is too difficult to make.
Oversupply is just as damaging to your reputation as undersupply. Giving your clients too many photos to choose from will make it difficult to choose a photo.
You might think – who cares, the client has paid and I supplied the work. That’s some short term thinking right there. What’s the point of creating work that is never used? The best part of supplying photography to a client is the excitement of seeing where it is going to be used. For example, check out this painting Shaun Thatcher made for a recent Camp Cope show tour poster:
Does that centre image look familiar? It was painted from a photo I took of Camp Cope at Crowbar in Brisbane.
For that Camp Cope shoot, I took around 40 photos. Of those 40 photos, I gave them four. That’s not to say that the other 36 were unusable – it’s just that giving them four images makes their selection process much easier. If the four I supplied weren’t usable to them, I would have gone back and looked at the other 36 photos and supplied an alternative. The above photo of Camp Cope is one of the most used photos of the band for promo work, despite it being one we took from a series shot in under five minutes. See the above passage about the importance of communication when selecting the photos you supply. Less is more – make your client’s job easy and see your work go viral!
Embrace your own style
Just because you’re shooting in a style that other photographers are not using does not mean you’re wrong. Each photographer’s style is individual. What’s important is that you understand your own style. If you don’t understand why you’re taking a photo in a certain way, you can’t expect your audience or client to have a clear idea of what they are going to receive from you.
If you emulate other photographer’s style too closely, you’ll always be second preference to the photographer you emulated. It’s fine to admire a photographer’s work and take inspiration from their work, but you’re doing yourself a disservice by copying all aspects of their style.
Each photographer’s style is individual. What’s important is that you understand your own style.
You’ll be hired because your client wants you to meet their brief. No client will give you money without seeing your work and knowing you will be able to deliver on their expectations. You’d be surprised how many couples ask me to photograph their weddings. I still don’t understand why I’m asked since my style is grunge and gank. I don’t even know what grunge and gank is, but it’s what I describe my work as.
Here is one of my recent photos of The Smith Street Band:
Here is one of the photos from a wedding I photographed:
I’m not sure about you, but I think it’s clear which photo I feel was more natural for me to create. If you can’t, it’s The Smith Street Band photo!
Sometimes it takes time for people to understand your style. That understanding is underpinned by expectation. Be repetitive and married to your style.
You might not think that your photography style is well-received from your audience. Sometimes it takes time for people to understand your style. That understanding is underpinned by expectation. Be repetitive and married to your style. The more consistent you are with your individual style, the more followers you will get for your work!