Growing as a photographer takes hard work. Since I am constantly looking for ways to keep growing, I want to share with you these 5 tips that might help you too.
Getting stuck as a photographer is a major problem a lot of us face. We learn to use our cameras, take some good pictures once in a while, and maybe even get a few paying clients. However, that’s not all there is to it.
It is always a goal for me to keep growing as a photographer, because I believe all artists need to constantly evolve for their crafts to succeed. Also, they need to grow to keep themselves inspired. Otherwise, their techniques will become monotonous and boring.
Therefore, I want to share 5 tips that are currently helping me get unstuck and that I am setting as goals for myself and my photography business. I believe they can really help you grow as a professional photographer.
Growing as a Photographer
Explore your possibilities
It is very easy to fall into your comfort zone and not expand your horizons as an artist. Of course, you should aim to define your niche and excel in it. However, it can be a great learning experience to try different types of photography. Even if you decide that certain type of photography is not for you, trying it could still help you learn new techniques that you could apply to your favorite type of photography. Keep yourself open-minded!
Another tendency you should avoid is to just do what you think will gain more money. I mean, sure, we all have bills to pay, and even if we our profession is an artistic one, we still need to put food on the table. Nevertheless, don’t let that dictate what you do, because when money is the objective, artist often lose their magic. Don’t just become a wedding photographer because that’s what you think will have monetary success. Explore your possibilities and find what you truly love. If you are really dedicated to it, chances are that you will be able to be economically successful with it because you will be motivated to make it work.
Get the most out of free resources
We all know that YouTube has become a great learning tool for anything you want to learn. It has been a blessing for people who don’t have the time or the means to study in more traditional ways. We have all benefited from it. But that’s not the only tool there is.
These past months, I have found great resources and learned a lot of new techniques by just subscribing to newsletters and registering to free online courses, conferences, or webinars. Just to name a few, there’s Creative Live, Online Photo Academy, Cole’s Classroom, etc. Read your favorite photographers’ blogs, watch their photoshoots’ behind-the-scenes videos, and subscribe to their newsletters (which at first I thought would only fill my inbox with promos and spam, but I have found most of them to actually be very informative!). A lot of photographers also offer free ebooks and other downloadable resources when you subscribe to them.
There’s no excuse. The resources are there (and for free!). Make the most of them!
Learn from local photographers
Ok, so learning from free online resources is an excellent way to keep growing as a photographer. However, you still need to learn from what your local photographers are doing. For example, I live in Puerto Rico. Most of the free online resources I am learning from are not from Puerto Rico. That means that the techniques they use are not necessarily as effective in my region.
That’s why I also follow my favorite local photographers on social media, and I try to observe how they market themselves. Whenever possible, I take local seminars or workshops. And another great way to learn from them is to actually work with them. If a local photographer that you admire is looking for an assistant or a second shooter, go for it! I am currently still waiting for that opportunity to present itself, but maybe I should just create my own opportunity by trying to meet with a photographer and offering them my assistance.
Try making tactical decisions
Growing as a photographer also means setting goals and working hard to achieve them. And the way to do that is being tactical about all your decisions. For instance, don’t just make a website to showcase all your work. Create your branding intelligently, market yourself to get the clients you want, target your desired audience on your blog or social media, etc. Make every decision in your photography business with a well thought out purpose.
I really wish I had learned about all of this earlier so I could apply it from the beginning, but it’s never too late to learn and become better at making tactical decisions!
Practice as much as possible
I get it. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day, or you’re just not feeling up to it. Still, you should really try to make a commitment to practice as often as possible. There’s just no other way to get better at what you do. Even if you are learning all kinds of techniques by watching videos or reading, you haven’t really learned them until you practice them. Make a schedule, compete in a contest, or participate in a photography challenge (such as our Weekly Photo Challenge!). These are all great ways of keeping yourself focused on practicing your photography skills and nailing the techniques you’ve learned.
I struggle with keeping myself motivated enough to practice, so I really love being part of our own Weekly Photo Challenge, because it makes me think about the challenge word all week to make a great picture. Sure, some weeks I do better than others (mostly because I am a procrastinator and I don’t always execute the plan with enough time to make the cool image I expected). But I love that it keeps my creativeness and imagination flowing every week.
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