Seven years since inception, I have shot over 250 weddings across the world and it all began from that first itch to capturing someone’s special memory and putting a smile on their face. Looking back is always fun; a lot of mistakes made and lessons learned. As a wedding photographer, I sat by and thought over what I’d say to myself if I were to begin fresh now. Now, this post is not just to those who are raring to get started in photography, but also to the beginner in each one of us who loves to get started every now and then with a fresh perspective.
From the many random realizations, here are 10 channeled points that every beginner in photography can stick to. I did enjoy saying this to myself. Give it a read. For the ones who find this trivial, you can share this with your friends who might benefit big time from the two cents.
1. Save for the Sake of Your Passion
Mankind is popular for its saving culture. We save for all good reasons but seldom for reasons of passion. Before quitting your job and plunging full-time into any form of photography that you are passionate about, make sure you have saved enough to keep your head above the water for the first few months. Yes, photography is an expensive profession, let alone a hobby. You have to constantly invest in equipment and that can be daunting if you don’t plan the numbers wisely. So, earn and save exclusively for the sake of starting up. After starting up in photography, make sure you shell 10 percent aside as a saving. That’s a good cushion, anytime.
2. Differentiate Between Passion and Excitement
Being excited and being passionate are two different things. Passion wouldn’t fade with time, excitement would. It is important to embrace this difference before you decide to invest a lot of time and mind into photography. How to identify this? Ask yourself these questions. Are you naturally good at photography or do you want to do it because it looks cool? Will you be thrilled to wake up, hold the camera, and focus on the next n number of years ahead or will it become a boring mundane at any point of the time? Think. Rethink. A good way is to practice it part-time, and then gather the momentum to jump in full-time.
3. The Power of Saying No
No, we just aren’t used to saying no. It is imperative that you do it because you can do only a finite number of things at any given point of time. And when you do, submit yourself to it. Give all your heart. Only that kind of passion with commitment will take you places. Do not try to do all at once. Instead, focus on one thing, build your expertise and then add more feathers to your hat. First things first, rest can wait.
4. Let the Results Speak
“How will I convince my friends/fiancé/family?” That’s one question that pops up in the mind of almost all the beginners. Anyone who truly cares for you yet opposes do so because they care about you in having a stable career. No use in fuming at them. Instead, convince them not with promises but results. Make sure they understand that you are not lured into something for the looks of it but for the soul of it. It could be an award in a photography contest or a personal photography blog with a commendable following. Whatever way it is, small or big, keep proving.
5. Live the Now
Dream big, definitely. But also, be in the present. The time in hand is very important and what you do with it counts for the tomorrows to come. Be it a photo walk or a road trip that you had always wanted to do, go for it. Stop procrastinating things and keep ticking your to-dos. These everyday things might look less important. But in the long run, they add to give the momentum needed to the achieving milestones in your dream profession.
6. Be Your Decision Influencer
A lot of second thoughts pop up when deciding to startup in photography. Especially when you take it up as an alternative career apart from what you have studied for real in college, things aren't easy in the beginning. Seeking advice is natural in such instances but not to an extent that it influences your decisions. Too many bits of advice from the different direction will only leave you confused. Instead, ask yourself the questions that matter: “Why am I doing this?” “Am I passionate about this or am I doing this for money?” “Will I be happy doing this 10 years from now?” The more you build your self-confidence through introspection, the more you will evolve to become that dream photographer you always wanted to be.
7. Step Out
Now, this is critical. We talked about self-confidence, but how do you achieve it? By stepping out. Go on a road trip or hike a mountain or just walk your street with a new pair of eyes. Only when you stay connected to the outside, the skill inside you will connect with the universe. Especially for a photographer, this act of stepping out is very important to keep discovering newer perspectives.
8. Read and Write Regularly
It might sound very typical, but trust me, the act of reading and writing is a very strong ritual on the long run. It is wrong to think that photographers can get inspired only from photography. Every form of creation is an inspiration. Books especially, widen the way we think and see. Also, when you start writing, you get into the habit of documenting things in detail. Anytime when you look back, it is important to read through the path you’ve been through and improve yourself.
9. Never Try to Satisfy Everyone
This is a common problem that all the photography aspirants face. The subset of your life is simply too big and there can never be a point where you can satisfy everyone. You must be the only person you are answerable to. The real game lies in what you decide to do with your talent and life. Everything, and everybody else, is just a part of the game.
10. Asking The Question "Why?"
This question lays the foundation for everything else to be built upon. Why you want to do something matters more than the "how" or "what" parts of it. There must be an innate drive that motivates you to become a photographer or any profession for that matter of fact. If it is wedding photography, ask, "Is it for the love of people and emotions, or for the money that it comes with?" If it is wildlife, then ask, "Is it for the love of nature or the fame that it comes with?" This golden question of "Why?" will help you distill the difference between a temporary obsession and a permanent passion.
Now breathe easy, the ten points are done. That is pretty much what I’d say to myself if I were to start afresh. So tell me, as a photographer if you are to start your career from ground zero now, what is the advice you will give to yourself?
Hi there, just looked up Wikipedia before posting this message. I was recently asked whether I have done anything notable in my photographic career and I replied, "Yes, I was the main photographer during a same sex civil marriage in the UK".
I am not judging here, but since the law in Tamil Nadu has been around since the British rule, at what point in your lucrative career as a wedding photographer do you envisage promoting the same rights for all, or is it just too messy to get into right now?
Just interested in your views, since this is an international forum.
Cool list, good stuff, and that last one of "Why" was strong for me. Definitely something i need to be asking more often.
Hey Jeff! Glad you connected with the article. Yes, WHY is the key to unleashing our potential.
Thank you for this post sir.