Photography is an art form that allows you to capture moments and in return store memories away for others. Stories can be told via photography and emotions can be invoked and so, if you’ve fallen in love with the beautiful art of photography and found yourself on this career path, here are some seasoned tips and insights from renowned photographers around the world on how to create the career you desire.
1. Do your homework
To excel in anything, nothing is more important than putting in the work. Passion alone doesn’t always cut it. Our willingness and determination to pursue our passion with everything we’ve got is the best bet to success. It is important that you do your homework; in this case, grow your skill set. Study the works of those that inspire you, take courses on crucial aspects you want to perfect, have the willingness to learn, learn about the type of work you’d like to produce, learn about basic post-processing, set goals for yourself, observe and adopt the best work practices that work for you. The list is endless. The key is to keep an open mind, pursue and have the willingness to grow your knowledge and master your craft. On that note, here is an important advice from Shannon Ghannam
"Study the masters and your contemporaries. Understand how visual communication and culture work, and the context you are making and presenting your work in. - Shannon Ghannam (Global Education Director, Magnum Photos, UK)
2. Have a Clear Brand Identity
Do you want to stand out? Then, it is important to find your voice and stay true to it. Authenticity is an edge in this market. So, identify a style that represents you, personalise and develop within that style and keep shooting until you perfect it. Shoot a lot and experiment too, a master is made by years of practice. Here's another brilliant quote from Shannon.
“The best photographic work feels like something we’ve not seen before, whether that is a story, a style, or a feeling that it evokes.” - Shannon Ghannam (Global Education Director, Magnum Photos, UK)
3. Start where you are
It’s easy to make excuses when they are true. Your brain rationalises it because it is true. The truth is, you cannot have all the tools as a beginner and even if you do, you might not possess the skills to efficiently manipulate them. It is easy in this case to fall prey to "excuse-making" syndrome that allows you to rationalise your way out of responsibility. There is nothing as true as the advice that you can always start where you are. Growth doesn’t happen in a day, you won’t always have the best lens on the market, or the best software to manipulate your images but that shouldn’t derail you from starting. Start where you are, with what you have. The supposed greats you admire today didn’t start with the best gears on the market today. You can always create magic with what you have. There will always be more to learn and more gears to get and that shouldn't stop you from chasing your dream.
“Start where you are. Use what you have to do what you can.”— Arthur Ashe
4. Put out your work
Climbing up the ladder in any profession demands hard work and the willingness to always put your best foot forward, whatever that means to you. For photography, visibility is your best friend and the only way you can be seen is by putting out your work. Leverage social media. Follow hashtags that matter and use them too. Get feedback from experts you admire and if they are not accessible, then get them from people that matter to you. Let them tell you how they feel about your work. Receive feedback with grace and give yourself the grace to grow. Here's a quote by Benjamin Von Wong that puts this in perspective.
“People rarely hire you to do work they've never seen you do before.” —Benjamin Von Wong (Photojournalist)
5. Enjoy the journey
Remember to enjoy the journey while at it. The truth is, it cannot always be smooth, but it will certainly be filled with excitement, growth and endless possibilities. So savour the moment, embrace the highs and lows and let them guide you towards the career you desire.
“Photography can be playful and yet it can propose more questions than it gives answers.” Cristina de Middel (Documentary Photographer)