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simple-photography-tips-product-photo-collage Tips & Tricks

Simple Photography Tips | The Formula To Becoming A Professional

By Max Bridge on July 14th 2016

If you’re looking for some kind of mad scientist type formula, which will turn your rubbish photos into something resembling the polished images put out by the pro’s you admire, some magical Photoshop sauce, or the “perfect” camera settings, this article will…disappoint. Sorry. This article also does not contain guidance on how to become a successful working pro; that’s a whole other kettle of fish and not an easy nut for anyone to crack (myself included). Puns aside, what is this article about? Today, I’ll be imparting and debunking; Debunking misconceptions often held by amateurs, and imparting hard-earned wisdom which I hope you’re open to hearing.

The Simple Misconception Which Can Hold Back Your Photography

Amateurs think there is a magical recipe for creating good photos, but there isn’t – at least not in the way that you / they expect. There are no magic settings which work every time; no piece of gear which will automatically mean your photos are beautiful; no easy paths whatsoever I’m afraid. It’s understandable that when presented with a subject as a large as photography we immediately begin looking for shortcuts, as we do so in every other part of life and often we find them. The depressing fact I shall begin this article with is to tell you that in photography, there are no real shortcuts – not if you’re in it for the long run and wanting to actually become properly good.

[REWIND: WHY ‘WHAT CAMERA SETTINGS SHOULD I USE?’ IS A POINTLESS QUESTION]

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Photography is an art, and while I also firmly believe that not all photography is art, and that many try to pass themselves off as “artists” to increase sales,  photography is an art which can be learned / taught. To think that only 11 months ago I made my first attempt at a product photo (the image above) and how far my product photography has now come, is proof. That is the key to this entire article; photography can be taught and thus learnt. With enough effort, you can create the photos you currently drool over. With the right instruction or curriculum, you can do it quicker than imaginable.

The Simple Photography Tip For You To Implement

We’re done with the misconception part now, time for my attempt to impart some knowledge.

Now that you know there are no shortcuts to learning photography, how is it you can take your photos from amateur to professional level? The formula is very simple; get education, practice, repeat. Or as that sounds so un-formula like.

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Granted, that formula also sounds pretty pathetic but bear with me, I’m a photographer after all, not a mathematician. As the “formula” is so simple, it requires little explanation. I do, however, want to impress upon you all, no matter what level of photographer you are, that this formula is vital to progression. That progression will be especially noticeable to amateurs, but all can benefit from constant repetition.

The Pitfalls To This Simple Photography Tip

As with everything, there are some pitfalls to this advice. The biggest of which being where you get your education. There are more photography tutorials out there (both paid and unpaid) than I’ve had hot dinners. Every man and his dog seem to be bringing out some must-have course, and it’s important to be able to sift through the crap; otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Three sites I regularly use, especially when I started out, are;

Creative Live – Good for everything, click here
Phlearn – Fantastic for learning Photoshop, click here
SLR Lounge – Excellent for a broad range of subjects. Even more so with the release of SLR Lounge Premium, click here to take a look.

The one major pitfall to all of this though, is brain overload. You can take in too much too quickly and then it tends not to ‘sync’ in. I would advise gradually scaling up the complexity and trying to continually implement techniques learned. Also, don’t just move from one genre to another when there is little connection between what you’re learning. This is where a curriculum or syllabus helps. Sure, you can get to your desired level by scattered learning, but for the steepest learning curve that makes it easy to measure progress, a program helps. You can either buy one or be diligent and set your own from free material. Either can work.

How Specialising Helped Me

It’s such a simple tip but one which I only recently began to fathom the importance of. Photography is a giant subject and not specializing spreads one too thinly, and you cannot be a master of everything straight away. I fully endorse trying lots of genres of photography when you begin but once you’ve found your love, pursue that, and become a master in that. If one month you work your way through a portrait photography course and the next it’s landscapes, when the time comes to return to portraits, you’ve forgotten much of what was learned.

[REWIND: USING SPLASH PHOTOGRAPHY TO PRODUCE SOMETHING SPECIAL | HOW I SHOT IT]

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By following the formula I have given here, and by specializing, I have gone from the image I showed at the beginning of this article, to a portfolio of high-quality market-worthy photos. You can check them out on my (almost finished) product photography website, click here. As I said, it’s a work in progress (blog needs doing and tweaks here and there) but I thought I’d let you guys check it out anyway. I must be doing something right as I’ve had numerous companies contact me already. Sadly, not the kind I’d like. I’m talking the “we can get you on the 1st page of google kind”, but at least they’re finding the site!

Summary

I know the advice in this article is not the most ground-breaking. Despite this, it is advice that I feel many of us take quite some time to appreciate fully. Unfortunately, while that time is not wasted, it’s far better to jump right in; get education, practice, repeat.

Be sure to take a look at all the other articles in my simple photography tips series, click here.

About

Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

Website: SquareMountain 
Instagram: Follow Author

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Erika Pinkley

    Love you article here and even though you state that it might not be “the most ground-breaking” set of advice points here, I think that the lesson to be learned here is in it’s simplicity. Too often people, beginners especially, try to over complicate things!

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  2. Ralph Hightower

    When I bought my first SLR in 1980, there was no Internet, no World Wide Web. It was just books. I read books written by Ansel Adams, John Hedgecoe, and others. I learned about the exposure triangle and the Zone System from books.
    Back then, publishing a book required a commitment from a book publisher. It had to be excellent and it had a team of proofers. Nowadays, I’m not so sure about vanity publishers and eBooks.

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    • Donna Macauley

      I loved John Hedgecoe’s books and yeh, I’m one of those who bought their first sir in the ’80’s, too. :)

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  3. Paul Wynn

    Max, on the education I’d like to add this observation. What ever area of photography is your thing, my advice is to search out the top professionals in that area and go on one of their courses. Online resoures are fantastic, SLR Lounge is brilliant of course! But attending a practical workshop/course adds an extra dimension that you cannot get from an online experience. I also found it helpful as an opportunity to mix with other photographers.

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    • Max Bridge

      Hey Paul. I agree that one should search out the best pros in whatever genre one chooses, however, not all photographers are good educators. Another important factor to consider.

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