4 Things Photo School Won't Teach You

Not everything can be taught in a classroom.

By: Garrett Graham + Save to a List

1. Your Gear Doesn’t Matter

Cameras are tools. You don’t see carpenters talking about upgrading screwdrivers every year do you? Photography has very little to do with gear and almost everything to do with the Photographer and their vision.

The difference between high end and low end gear is small. How often do you find yourself needing to shoot at 512,000 ISO? Or 8 more megapixels? Or actually requiring a magnesium frame on your camera?

There are absolutely camera features that will make your life easier, but one camera won’t make you better over the another. Spend the time trying to achieve the images you want with the tools you have. It will make you a better photographer.

2. Be Project Based

Apply a goal to your work. Give your work purpose, what do you want to say? Aesthetically pleasing images are great, but they have infinitely more value and interest if they have a purpose and a voice. Don’t just shoot to shoot. Shoot to say something.

Try shooting large projects that will outlast you. The greats let their images live forever. Don’t focus on logos or gimmicks. Think large.

3. Selling Your Work

If you want to make a living with photography you need to understand a few things.

  • Magazine Editors need images 3 months out. That means Fall shots need to be delivered in Summer. Advertisers need images 6 months out. So make sure you send work when they can use it. Also do things they've never seen before, it has editorial value.
  • Be the best at a couple of things. People hire based on strengths. Importantly, don't put stuff into a portfolio you don't like shooting. What do you want to shoot for the next 5 years?
  • Don't be a camera operator, be the Creative.
  • And if you need images for your portfolio reach out to cool people and go to where they are and take rad pictures.

4. Learn Video

If you're a photographer you need to look at adding video to your skill set. Still and moving images are becoming intertwined and it won't be long before you’re expected to do both. In such a competitive industry who do you think will be hired? Yep, the one who takes pictures and records video.

On the bright side you likely won't need much new gear. So get out there and start recording.

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