Tips and Advice - Starting out in Photography

There are tons of blogs, videos and social streams full of advice and tips on photography. In an attempt to avoid adding to the noise, here are a few quick, snappy tips or considerations for those of you starting out in digital photography:

1. Meet up with other photographers - some more experienced than you and some not. The experienced ones you learn from, the not so experienced - you learn with.

I used to meet up with a group of photographers at work during lunchtime, and together we would walk around central London trying out new settings and discovering new techniques. There were times where we set out with a particular theme or objective in mind, like photographing your name using everyday objects or structures we came across as we walked through the street.

2. Save up as long as possible before buying your gear. Compare and read reviews online before buying. You tend to get what you pay for, so besides the odd bargain, if it’s cheap, you’ll soon find out why.

3. Find someone you can trust to honestly critique your work. When you put allot into an image, you sometimes become blind to the fact that it’s actually not has good as you think. Adding average images to your portfolio tends to pull down the overall quality of your work. It's worth watching some of Zack Arias' photography critiques.

Just browse around Google+ or Flickr and you'll see people giving out likes, stamps, awards and hugs to each other for the most bizarre images. I get the "encouragement" aspect of the process, but before running off and starting a career as a photographer, you need to get some tough, honest love!!

4. I would recommend backing up your images. You can setup a NAS (network attached storage) or use an external hard drive. Its also a good idea to keep a copy onsite and offsite.

I've been in the position where I mistakenly deleted a folder of images while trying to clear space on my drive. Fortunately I was able to recover these from my backup drive. Yip, it happens to other people too.

For those interested, it's worth watching this short video out from Chase Jarvis, as he shares a behind-the-scenes clip about his backup and workflow process. Obviously a bit extreme for those starting out, but worth noting that if these professionals are taking it seriously, there's a lesson to be learnt here.

5. Watch and Learn. Subscribe to podcasts and guys like Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski from Kelby Training. Its worth scoping out their online training subscription. With the vast amount of media available online, you can also see what other photographers are up to on channels like YouTube.

6. Be careful when starting out with post processing in Photoshop. Newbies ALWAYS overdo it and are heavy handed. Keep it as close to the real thing as possible. I think we all get to a point in our craft where we look back in embarrassment and cringe at some of the work we produce and splash out online. This is where point 3 comes into play.

7. Do your best when working for both paying and non-paying clients. Word of mouth is VERY important and can open up many doors. This applies to any job or work you do, not just in photography. Do your best to understand the brief. One way to make sure everyone is on the same page, in terms of the look and feel of the desired photographs, is to put an image mood board together and show the client your interpretation of their requirements.