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An Open Letter to Beginner Photographers

Author: The Printique Team

Dear beginner photographer,

First thing’s first: congratulations on a new beginning! Whether you’re taking on photography as an official hobby or turning your long-term passion into a career, there’s no doubt that an exciting journey lies ahead.  You’re embarking down a road that will be filled with both incredible highs and discouraging lows; If you’re reading this as a seasoned photographer, I’m sure you can attest.  It’s likely that  a few specific moments even popped into your head.

Through all of these highs and lows, the important thing to know is that you’ll never regret following your love for photography (assuming it truly is a love).  In fact, many photographers will agree that the choice to pursue photography was never really a choice at all, but rather a calling that they simply had to answer – a lifeforce, if you will. 

That’s why we wanted to take the time to talk to you, to share some words of wisdom about the hurdles you may soon encounter.  We mean it when we say that you’re about to head down an incredible road, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a lonely road at times, too; Or a road you considering getting off; Or a road you wish you could rush down but can’t.

As you start your new journey, we hope you’ll keep the following advice in mind.

People are going to say things.

When you officially take on the label of a “photographer,” people are going to say things. We don’t mean strictly negative or strictly positive things; We mean that people will sometimes have opinions that hurt you, or discourage you, or hit a nerve in you.  People may say glaringly insulting things, such as that you’re stupid or naïve for pursuing such a saturated field; Or they may make backhanded comments, such as that you’re brave for pursuing something with so little reason to believe it will work out.

It’s easy to guard yourself from the blatant discouragement, but the subtle digs from people you love can throw you off kilter if you’re not prepared for them.  You will be met with doubt from the people you trust and value the opinions of the most. Promise yourself today that you won’t let them steer you off course.  For as long as you believe that photography will bring you joy – whether that be on a personal or professional level – pursue it as intensely as you can.

People are going to know more than you.

When you’re a beginner, no matter what it is that you’re beginning, you are going to be surrounded by people who know more than you.  You are going to meet photographers who have been working in the field for decades and know more than you think you ever could.  You are going to be part of conversations that you can’t follow and asked questions that you can’t answer.  You are going to be beat out by people with more experience – more than once.

When you encounter one of these situations, remember this: being new at something does not mean that your thoughts, ideas, and skills don’t have value; Being experienced doesn’t mean always being right; Being new has its advantages; And you can always, always keep learning.  It is never too late to learn more about certain gear, educate yourself on best financial practices, take a course on editing, or anything in between.

You will have to take risks.

When you first begin your journey as a photographer, you will be full of excitement.  You will be in your honeymoon phase of creative pursuits – and then you’ll hit the first speed bump.  You will be asked to make an investment in your photography or step out of your comfort zone.  This necessary “risk” may be the purchase of new camera gear, enrollment in a course, or meeting with a potential client in an unfamiliar city.

Don’t let risk take you out of the game; Prepare for them, anticipate them, and use the way you react to them to your advantage.

You are part of your photography.

Most of us have been told at one point or another to be ourselves – and the same advice rings true in photography.  Your interests, style, and personality are immense parts of your craft; Our advice is to let it be!

Say for example that you’re a hilarious person who is able to fill a room with laughter.  If this is a gift you have, make it part of your photography.  Tell jokes just before you snap a photo or use your humor to make your clients feel relaxed and comfortable.  Don’t force your personality into a box or try to mimic the photographers you’ve worked with in the past.  Let your strongest qualities make your photography truly one-of-a-kind.

Improvement is not linear.

There will be weeks where you can’t believe how incredible your photographs have become.  You will double your total client bookings, receive compliments from people you respect, master new styles, find fresh gear you adore, and reach professional milestones.

And then the next week you’ll break your camera.  You’ll realize you forgot to back up your card.  You’ll be let go from a client who found a more fitting option.  A client will complain that they don’t like the editing style of your final deliveries.  You’ll receive words of doubt from a friend and feel completely uninspired to get outside and shoot.

When you hit a week like that, it’s critical to remember that improvement is not linear.  You will have highs and lows followed by more highs and more lows.  You will feel gifted one week and utterly hopeless the next; but another week full of accomplishments is always right on the horizon – so long as you keep going.

Don’t chase fame.

In the world of social media, it’s easy to identify the photography that performs the best. It can be tempting to chase the validation that a particular style of photography receives, but holdfast to the photographs that feel true to you. Copying popular styles of photography may garner an initial positive reaction, but nothing will feed your soul like connecting with fellow creatives over a photograph that truly embodies work you can be proud of.

When you see something you like, say something.

One of the best parts about becoming a photographer is gaining access to an incredible community. Make the most of your new found community by connecting positively with the people in it; When you see something you like, share your feelings with the photographer!

Sharing positive feedback with the photography community will connect you with talented people and place your personal work within a positive feedback loop. You will be able to learn from photographers whose styles you enjoy and make friends that share the same passions with you. What’s better than that?

Never forget that decades of captured memories, incredible accomplishments, and indescribable satisfaction lie ahead; We hope that this advice can keep “giving up” from ever feeling like an option.

And whenever you need us, we’ll be here!