15 things i have learned about photography

  1. owning an expensive camera doesn’t make me a good photographer. it makes me an expensive-camera-owner
  2. not everything needs to be photographed
  3. if i can’t get the photograph i want, moving myself instead of the camera usually works
  4. even adults need props – it helps people relax and be less self-conscious (*)
  5. i don’t like the term ‘point and shoot’ because (to me) it sounds like the photographic equivalent of ‘hit and run’ and i really hope that’s not what people are doing. even a compact digital camera, or a phone camera, can produce exquisite images
  6. be inspired by other photographers, but don’t copy them
  7. when going out on a photo-walk, leave the camera on and the lens cap off. it saves battery (switching on/off/on/off uses a lot of power) and means i am always ready
  8. always carry a spare battery, and make sure it’s charged before leaving the house
  9. what i see is different from what anyone else sees; so comparing my photographs to anyone else’s and thinking they are better, or worse, ends me up in a whole world of crazy
  10. the better i know my camera, the easier it is to get the results i want
  11. getting out of bed in the early morning has not only resulted in some good photographs, it’s meant that i’ve had time to sit quietly in the soft morning light
  12. DO NOT have a deferred life plan of being a better photographer (this applies to all of my life)… i need to do something every day that increases what i know
  13. learning doesn’t always mean reading books, sometimes it means playing with the camera until i figure out something new. sometimes it means putting the camera away and just looking
  14. if i share what i have learned, other people are more willing to share what they have learned
  15. there is always more to learn

what have you learned recently (about photography, or anything else) that you’d like to share?

* thanks to di mackey for the photograph of me – taken on a recent trip to antwerp, where i found the antique mirror frame and proceeded to show her how much less self-conscious i was when there was some fun to be had.

14 thoughts on “15 things i have learned about photography

  • I love all these pictures you put up. How do you feel now that they’ve been there?
    I took one of mine in to a cafe not long ago too, just the exercise of it was good for me…I guess you have to start somewhere , and the starting brings the reality, the changes in the psyche that you don’t get without the action. Never got hung as shop owners sold up. But I had to change inside to do it.
    By the way, my favorite is the photo of you holding the frame.
    Please send me one of that!

  • – i have learnt that this is all i want to do in my life, it is how i exist, it is my “art de vivre”
    – you need a good lens !
    – i ask myself often : what appeals to me in the photo of others ?
    – if you are looking for your style : look within
    – i can spend days without taking a photograph and it is absolutely fine !

  • This was a wonderful list for me to see today as a beginning photographer. I have so much to learn and I am so excited about the prospect of seeing the world through a brand new persepective. I especially needed to read #3.

  • I need to remember #9 more often.

    In August I was working on photos to submit to a publication (still waiting to hear if they are accepted), but it was a big learning experience just in terms of mindset. It’s different to go on a photo walk and just shoot what you see as opposed to walking around looking for things that fit the project. I sort of had to find this balance between shooting whatever I wanted and being way to picky about what to shoot. Because I was shooting with a publication in mind, I felt that I pushed myself in certain ways and I certainly got out and shot a lot more photos than I might have otherwise.

  • I’ve learned that the best camera is the one you have with you at the moment. And to shoot only what moves me personally – not necessarily what everyone else is shooting (I have been a rebel all my life; I always want to be different than everyone else, although different isn’t necessarily better). I’ve also learned getting as close as possible to the subject usually produces the best results. To get up close and personal, you have to engage w/ the subject, even if you don’t speak the language. Trying to establish a personal connection w/ the subject is important, both for the person being photographed and the photographer. The result is a better picture. xx

  • Yes, well said. I wandered thru the woods yesterday. 3 cameras-r with me, my iphone in pocket, and a backup in car. I just enjoy the process of capturing where I am. Thanks for sharing Leoni.

  • i’ve learned to get real with what both what i love to photograph and what i am good at. to claim it and be honest about it. and i’ve been very grateful for the opportunities to learn from you.
    love you huge.

  • I’ve learnt you can meet some wonderful people though a mutual love of photography!

    Also, on a more practical level, if you have a spare memory card for your camera, keep it in your purse/wallet (something that goes everywhere with you). It’s saved me a few times when I’ve gone out with my camera only to realise the CF card is still stuck in the front of my computer! Grrrr.

  • I know I should aspire to be a better photographer but in reality I actually end up being an expensive camera owner. Probably be a guy thing.

  • This is so true, all of it. Especially the moving bit. Something I didn’t do for longer than I care to admit.

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