10 things I learnt in my photography journey and how to earn respect from others.
1. Be very passionate about your work.
Capture with your heart. Love what you do. Be very focused in it and keep creating new stories. Think deep and take your time to put your work together. No one is rushing you but you have to push yourself. There are many ways of communication and it’s the same through photography. Did you not realise that most of the award winning shots always have a story to tell? That National Geographic is basically bringing these interesting stories from around the world to you through their beautiful imagery. Let’s say if you would make a trip to Russia in the winter cold, I am sure you are going to bring back some interesting stories and again you will need to make sure it is the pictures that speak to the viewer, not you.
2. Don’t make photography sounded difficult and complicated in order to position yourself.
Have you ever heard someone telling you how young they were when they started photography? It’s not about the number of years you have been shooting, its about what have you been capturing since the day you picked up the camera. Doesn’t always mean that if you started young your work will be good. I remember a guy, Joel Garcia, whom I have met when he was only 6 months into photography in 2007. I was one of those who have helped him in his photography journey. With only 6 months of experience, I could see his strength in photography that comes with good eyes and creativity in his shots. It would have been a big, big mistake if he didn’t make photography his career. And by the way, he is probably one of the top wedding photographers in the Philippines today: http://joelhgarcia.weebly.com/awards–published.html.
3. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to show that you are a photographer.
It is just a job and it requires a lot of hard work. On the other hand, anyone and everyone have a camera can be a photographer to enjoy this hobby as well. Why would you want to be a professional photographer if you have a great job that pays you well? Make your money and buy whatever cameras you like and enjoy it! Photographer have a hard life, they have to be very focused on seeing things through a viewfinder most of the time. While you are enjoying the scenery with two eyes, photographers are trying to squish through the camera lens to make their composition. While you see the beautiful models on the magazine, they are trying to make the model look good or not better than what she look in real person in photoshop LOL. Btw, 99% of today’s model’s portraits you saw on magazine are all altered.
4. Never badmouthing other photographer’s work because everyone is learning. Taking pictures is all about the opportunity in capturing the moment. Everyone sees things differently because of their personality. Some learn fast and some are slow but it’s all about growing and having fun in photography. No one knows how to play golf in one day, it takes time and practice. How nice if we could get some good comments and feedback of encouragement from each other. Photography is a great way of meeting new friends 🙂
5. You should always be ready to take criticism of your work.
The moment you think you know it all, it also means that you have stopped learning. Listen to someone can help you see from another angle and perspective.
6. Let your work tell the story, not you.
Sometime I hear people talk until their story “got dragon got phoenix” but when I look at their picture… I don’t understand LOL or maybe my standard is not there yet. Every picture tells a story and the showing of a photo is always about two people… the photographer and the audience. The photographer expresses his feelings and story through his picture and it is up to the audience to pick it up, if the audience sees it, good. If not, that’s fine. Again it is based individual preference. It is like going to a food court, everyone chooses what they love to eat.
7. Never keep thinking of getting famous, because that should not be your objective.
Work hard to produce consistent good pictures, your good work will show itself eventually. Remember, if you did not put in 100% effort in capturing your shot, don’t expect others to see 100% in your photography. You can produce one lucky shot but luck won’t bring you to the next level. If your work is good only once and your later works are not good, you will be forgotten or worse still, people try not to remember you. Maybe you have made a bad reputation for yourself. I have always confronted myself with this truth as well 🙂
8. Don’t follow what others are doing.
Create your own originality. If you are busy copying other people’s work, trying to follow them, how could you find time to create your own original work? For many year I have been keeping to what I believed in; landscape photography that works with natural source of light. I am not keen about HDR and I choose to capture forever green pictures. Few days ago, I have just saw one of my picture was published and that was capture more than 10 years ago and yet it looks like yesterday.
9. Believe in your own work.
If you don’t then no one will. Well, I am not saying that you believe in your work so much that you are totally in your own world and not taking lessons or thinking that your work is the best (point 5, take “criticism” remember?). Capture with your heart. If you feel the touching moment when you trigger off… believe me your audience will be touched as well. What many are looking for is the unique individual’s work, something fresh. Something they have never seen before, a surprise! Does your work have that element? Do you even believe you can do it?
10. Be open and share your knowledge.
Everything we have learnt today, we have learnt from someone else. There is only so much of techniques and if all we learnt is only techniques than we have miss the whole idea about photography. Photography is all about light and story and it is not just about techniques. Look at all the world renowned photographers, did you ever hear them talk about techniques? We always heard about their stories, their passion, their life through their pictures.
Alex Soh Jan 2014
Check out my latest photography trip to Spain and Portugal—Title: ALL WALKS OF LIFE