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  • Writer's pictureSteve Payne

Discovering You

How to become a photographer that people will respect.

Your personal vision is the way to stand out from the crowd. ©Steve Payne 2022

Discovering You As A Photographer There is no shortage of photography publications and videos on YouTube telling you how easy it is to become a professional photographer or local Ansel Adams. I’m not saying that’s bad, but do you really believe that?

That being said, a lot of the articles and videos celebrate the ease of using the latest Photoshop filters, or how to obtain bokeh from the latest, greatest, fastest lens.

When I began photography over 25 years ago, there were a handful of publications, and of course, there wasn’t the internet and YouTube with even more information to choose from. So, finding what you needed to learn was a little harder.

Of course, going to actual workshops with proven professionals was, and still is, a great method to learn quickly, at least in my opinion. Jumping from technique to technique, and having your work look like it was done by ten different photographers isn’t.

I believe that as far as style goes, taking tons of pictures without worrying about what the latest guru says, is the best way to discover yourself through photography.

And, if you’re going to stand out in photography, discovering yourself is the only way.

No one else can shoot exactly like you do, with your sensibilities and taste. You’ve got to trust yourself first and foremost! And, when you discover who you truly are as a photographer and follow that path, success will follow.

Part of that process, I believe, is you’ve got to know how and why photography works. Digital has made it so easy to make an image, that people often cut out learning much of the needed foundational skills and knowledge that make an outstanding photographer.

They get a camera, take a few photos, and say this is fun! I want to be a photographer! Then almost immediately they start posting on Facebook, set up a website, and think they can compete.

I can’t tell you how many “photographers” I’ve met who literally have no idea how their expensive new camera works and simply put it on auto and expect it to do the work.

You can pose with that camera but the posing is over when you have to show your work.

It doesn’t take them long to realize, that if you really want to be a photographer and stay one, there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

There are no shortcuts to becoming a true professional, in any field!

Since 35mm cameras and pro labs arrived on the scene, there have always been folks who tried to shortcut the process and become professional photographers before they were ready. They’re also the ones who find it exceedingly difficult to make a go of it.

And, they’re the ones who ruin people’s wedding day by accepting paying assignments before they’re ready.

Many people have professional-grade cameras, enjoy taking pictures, and have computers to manipulate those images.

Why should they pay someone with the same equipment and experience as you pay hard-earned money for photography? That’s a really good question. If my experience shows anything, it’s that they WILL respect someone who’s paid their dues. Who clearly knows much more than them about photography and, has the work to prove it!

Don’t stop watching videos and reading books about photography, but, take everything with a grain of salt.

Go out and discover who YOU ARE as a photographer! Be the very best that you can be. Never stop learning. Know how and why it all works.

Then you can step up with work that clearly stands above your amateur clients, and you’ll find that photography can be a wonderful life and living!


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