If you're serious about learning photography, give these Masterclasses a try:
Annie Leibovitz's iconic photographs have appeared in museums, books, and magazines from Vanity Fair to Rolling Stone—and now she’s your instructor.
Learn Annie's creative process and be inspired to try new and practical photography techniques.
A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and additional resources.
If you're into adventure photography, world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin will be your teacher. Join him on location for a photoshoot with his climber friends Conrad Anker and Bree Buckley.
From selecting the right gear to telling stories through images, Jimmy Chin teaches you how to plan shoots, capture the best shots, and edit in the studio.
A downloadable book accompanies the class with photography and supplemental learning material.
Don't get too much gear. If you got a flagship phone, you can use that and get great looking pictures!
You don't need a DSLR to be an awesome photographer, unless you're into shooting sports or something niche like that.
The best camera for most people:
Learning by watching tutorials and observing others is enormously helpful, but there's no substitute for experience. I'm still a budding photographer myself but I've learned that you improve the most from the thousands of little lessons you pick up from taking many, many, photos in all kinds of situations. And then review them and reflect on what you like and what was bad. And do it again. And again. And eventually you hone your craft slowly but surely.
Marc Levoy, former Stanford professor, has his Photography class that he taught at Google available online.
The more you research, the more you learn and devote to photography, the more of a photographer's mindset you'll be. If you're looking for a great education resource to help you get better, I definitely recommend CreativeLive.
Free online seminars from the best in the biz, changed the way I shoot and view the craft. Drastically affected my shooting style and my eye for sure simply by teaching to hone in on your motivations and don't play footsie with photography.
Everyone looks at their work and has moments of doubt. Another photographer said to me the other day: "I used to look up to a ton of photographers whose work I really admired and think 'wow, how amazing!' and now once I know how to take those shots I don't think they're amazing but I've found newer, better idols."
Photography is a great self-discovery art. All the different mediums, genres and styles give us a myriad of ways to make photography our own. With all those options, who has time to bemoan their own work? (... woah. I just wrote what I really needed to hear for myself.)
Gear scoping is an easy trap to fall into starting out. I was totally there myself for a while. Best advise I can offer is to just get rid of all the extra gear. Keep your camera and a nice lens with you at all times. Yes yes have the tripod, extra battery, external flash, etc. on the side. But just for everyday travel, keep it as simple as possible. I used to keep all my gear in a bag and carry it all with me everywhere. Who needs a battery charger with them at all times? No. Just no.
Anyway, once you've cut down on the gear you carry with you, focus on improving the shots you're taking with just that one lens. Learn your camera. Learn the lens. Know their limits, and once you start to feel the limits you'll be ready to upgrade. More importantly, you'll understand why you want to upgrade. I started with a Rebel Xsi. Jumped to a 7D. And finally jumped to a full-frame 5dm3. I used to have 5 lenses. Now I have 1. I personally feel my photography began to improve only after I stopped focusing on what new gear I could get, and started focusing on what I could do better with what I had.
Also, about the editing and crying - totally been there too. For me it was photographing my niece and her friends playing. They'd run around and play and I would have my camera on rapid-fire mode capturing every single blurry footstep. Then I'd have 2k+ shots from a 10-minute time span of kids running in a circle.
What a waste of time, attenuations, and what a waste of my life missing that moment by sitting there shooting instead of participating. So what I started doing was putting my camera down and watching them play. I started seeing a pattern in the chaos and I can now anticipate their play, and just prepare for a shot. Instead of spray-and-pray with 2k shots, I can now predict, rapid-fire off 5-10 and call it a day.
Most instructional material are very technically oriented - how to get soft water, how to achieve focus isolation, how to dial in ISO, etc etc. these are mechanical exercises. they are merely auxiliary to the image making process. and something you can pick up on-the-fly.
What i suggest is finding material just about compositional/design/visual ideas.
Then start looking and tons and tons of images to identify and rationalize why you like certain photos. or what makes other photos bad.
That'll help internalize key elements that you can use when you take photos. (merely understanding the dry, mechanical relationship between aperture, shutter, and iso doesnt lead to good images.)
And then pick up something on post-processing too because in the digital world it makes a huge impact on finished results.
I'd recommend getting your work critiqued and seen by different people. That's a great way to improve your skills.
Remember the adage 'garbage in garbage out'.
Environmental conditions, namely light amount and quality, largely determine what you're working with and usually no amount of post-production can overcome it.
For instance, I live in Spain which has harsh light, the 'golden hours' are even more crucial to use to get good light for landscapes/architectuals.
Also dirty, dusty lenses/filters. Try clone-stamping your way out of spots on faces.
This is probably the most important tip that I can give to you.
I'm going to be blunt and say that you should never post any of your mediocre photos. Only post your best work. I guarentee that although no one looking through your photos will tell you directly, you will be judged on the worst photo that you post. You can connect this to point number 10, so when you are looking to post your photos, ask yourself "How appealing is this photo?"
If your photo is out of focus, you should probably avoid posting it.
If your photo is boring, you should probably avoid posting it. (Ask yourself: What makes this photo special? Is it just a picture of a park bench slightly to the left with an out of focus background? You probably don't need to post that)
If your photo is blurry, you should probably avoid posting it.
If your photo has poor lighting, you should probably avoid posting it.
If your photo generally just has bad photography technique, you should probably avoid posting it.
And please don't post similar photos from different angles. In most circumstances, the audience doesn't need to see every single way you photographed something. I know it can be hard to decide between two or three similar photos, but if it ever comes down to that, just flip a coin.
Obviously, there are exceptions to these rules. But seriously, control the temptation to post every single photo you take. We ALL take blurry/out of focus/boring photos, but that doesn't mean we have to post them.
My first recommendation is to read up a little on basic photo tips (rule of thirds, composition, etc.). They are some great simple "rules" to help improve general picture taking. Second step, find a camera. Since you're a beginner, I'd recommend a 35mm film camera. Those are the most common and most friendly to beginners. You can get fancier ones or simple ones, and to really get the feel for film, I recommend the simple ones (you'll have to load the film yourself, wind it after each shot, and rewind it back into the cartridge when you're done).
I have the Pentax K1000, which is a great beginner film camera. It has a battery-driven light sensor that will help you shoot more balanced images, and all the littls stuff you need. Should be able to find it or a similar style 35mm camera on ebay or craigslist. Obviously then you'll want a lens. If it comes with a lens, great, if not, I recommend a 35mm or 50mm if you're interested in street/portrait photography, a wide angle (10mm to 24mm lenses, where 10-18mm is considered ultra wide angle) for anything from landscape to urban, or a zoom lens (let's say above 150mm) for zooming, sports, etc. (Note: the mm in lens is different from the mm in the film.)
Then, finally, you want film! r/analog and r/AnalogCommunity are great places to look into more technical stuff. The latter is a community and their posts discuss photography tips/techniques more than r/analog. You can find all sorts of 35mm film out there. Black and white (BW) is a great start, especially if you want to learn to develop it yourself. Color also is fun, then you can find wacky films (I've shot color infrared, which is a pain and I don't think available anymore, sadly). Good beginner film should be cheap, like under $10 per film roll (about 24 shots).
As for developing, start with a pro developer, not some CVS or corner pharmacy. The Darkroom is a good developer, and they do both C-41 (color negative) and E-6 (slide film) properly. I only know this cause color infrared requires slide film processing, and some local developers might say they do E-6 but don't really do E-6. Anyway, that's getting into technical mumbo jumbo. For now, you really just need a camera, a lens, and some film. Youtube videos should help you with loading the film, winding it, and unloading it when finished.
NO! I have a photography degree and I went to a good school for it. You can basically self learn everything in photography, but there are some things that will be much easier to learn in school and there is information and projects that you will not persue unless a school forces it on you.
Looking back I would have focused some time towards learning about becoming an entrepreneur and operating a sucessful business. Unless you are looking to work for slave wages, good jobs in photography are pretty exclusive. Self employment is the easiest way to make a career of it.
Will a photography degree benefit you as a photographer? I'd say absolutely. Will you be a successful photographer because of a degree? I'd say absolutely not.
BTW. Narrowing your focus is the way to make a career of it. I don't know of many pros who are a jack-of-all-trades.
I'm assuming you're fairly young and still just kinda browsing around degrees as though they lay out your career path. as a proud art major working in a field completely unrelated to art, let me just get out of the way the fact that the degree does not matter at all, unless you're getting in to a technical field requiring any of the STEM degrees.
Most jobs that pay fairly decently just require a degree, and they don't care what your grades are.
The art degree is pursued for your own edification or because it's easy or because it's fun or any combination of those. get your photography degree - you'll make the world a more interesting place by virtue of being one of the few photography majors out there. odds are you'll probably end up working in an office sooner or later that pays better than photography. you might pursue it professionally for a while, but like most, you'll probably eventually end up pursuing it as a side job to supplement your income (and/or because you still love doing it).
Personally, i recommend getting an art degree only if you feel like it'll make you a more rounded out individual. but take classes outside of your degree. it'll encourage you to think more critically about all sorts of subjects and that makes your art more interesting as a side effect.
Take a break! Nothing wrong with that. Just because you're a photographer doesn't mean you have to shoot every single day.
I've learned to face this like nature's seasons. there are times for growth and times for withdraw, and I just go with them. even when I'm at my lowest (like when the very idea of picking up the camera seems like a burden) I know that it's only a matter of time before the cycle turns around again.
The truth in it is that there are a lot of ugly parts to doing your passion in any field. Give one to me and I can tell you a part of it the majority hates.
A lot of photographers, for example, find much more joy in taking photos and being out. What they don't like is criticizing their own work daily. It's stressful, and can be very draining to look at how your work you spent a lot of time on, isn't that great.
Sometimes the turn is caused by seeing and taking inspiration from other artist's work, sometimes by reading about equipment and techniques, other times by finding new locations to shoot at. there's aways something. I just try to understand and respect the bad moments - and wait, kwowing that they'll eventually pass.
I was a photography major in a program that pushed fine art with little technical instruction and found myself flailing because I couldn't reliably achieve what I envisioned. What ended up happening to me was that I scraped by with mediocre work, graduated, and put my camera down for 8 years.
Do not do what I did.
My vision and skills declined. I recently picked the camera back up and am pursuing it with a passion I haven't known in a long time, but I lost eight years of practice. Think of what you could become with eight years of shooting and creative exploration.
Maybe you do need to step back a bit, but don't desert it entirely. Examine what moves and drives you. Think about what excited you when your passion was still strong. Maybe use some of your skills in other pursuits. Maybe finding a collaborator would help.
Even if you don't have a whole team, working with only with a make up artist that can guide you with styling and good taste, will empower you a lot. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK: online, real life, vernissages, nightlife, shows, walks.
That would set you up in a basic scenario in which they 'look like fashion'.
But you don't want to 'look like fashion' you want to 'be fashion', so next:
What do you know about Fashion? Why do you want to shoot Fashion? What constitutes a Fashion Photography? Do you know Fashion history? ie, do you know who Diana Vreeland is? (related to two of the magazines you mention.) Do you follow fashion constantly, love the magazines etc? (www.fashioneditorials.com helps a lot). That will put you in context and that way you'll be the same as every other.
But you don't want to be the same as 'every other', you want to be 'unique'.
In the history part, what's your take in photography History? do you know the key players? Can you shoot in Avedon Style? Erwin Blumenfeld, Irving Penn, Lartigue, Leiter, Munkácsi... Lindbergh/Newton.. Juergen Teller, Alex Saladrigas, Meisel... etc etc get monographics, go to exhibitions, read, see who they worked with, analize their photography, angles, cuts, style, etc
Socially, what moves you? This is quite important in modern fashion, it's not just Pictorialism.
Honestly, all this is more related to 'art direction' than to photography itself, so if it really bothers you, maybe start a AD master? or help out art directors and set designers to learn? It's a steep curve if you start from scratch!
I went from film to aps-c to full frame to M43 in my professional life. Despite my affinity for FF cameras, the shots and video I'm taking with my M43 setup are the best I've taken and it's not even close. Has nothing to do with the equipment: it's just that it's easier to take everywhere, and is capable enough of doing what I want. I put the time in, and I've got 15 years of experience to draw on now.
Never lose sight of the fact that YOU are the most important factor in how your photos/video turn out. If a shot didn't come out the way you wanted, ask yourself what you'd need to make it work, and learn from that. Print your favorites out, hang 'em up. Give them as gifts. Surround yourself with your art: explore the medium.
Sometimes the answer to getting better shots is equipment, but most of the time it's missed settings or something you can easily correct in the future. Just keep shooting and never stop.
I joined a local photography club so I could stretch myself a bit with the competitions and be forced to try new things. I gradually realised I was losing interest because I was concentrating on taking photos that would do well in the competitions and half the time, they weren't the pictures I actually wanted to take.