Photography Classes' Notes - Unglamorous Life of a Photographer

For many new aspiring photographers going off to college this September, I like to give a friendly reminder the life of a career photographer is not as glamorous as those you read or watch about. Not even close! So before you go in thinking that the lifestyle is going to be fabulous, consider yourself warned. If you're going to school that is... or learn online from the world’s top pro photographers!

Now that being said, welcome to the world of photography! I'm excited that you'll be on this journey as I have many, many moons ago. I compile a list of things that might help your journey. So here goes...

5 Things you need to ought to know about being a photographer

1. Don't be an asshole. (Important)

That's something you can apply to in life, but let's go with photography today. The world isn't that big. People you piss off today might just be the person that decides whether you're hired for the job later in life. Treat people you meet at school nicely. See them as a rival, if need be, but never your enemies. Some photographers I know early in life are now photo editors. Had I have terrible run-ins with them early in life, I probably wouldn't have some of the jobs.

On the job, sometimes the shoot can last more than 16 hours, and you don't want to be the asshole no one wants to work with next time. In a corporate setting, this is magnified a hundred times! Unless you're a famous photographer, but I tell you... they don't get that way by being an asshole to people.

2. Know your camera and lighting.

Digital photography has introduce instant gratification of learning your shot immediately after it's shot. Compare to the film days, when a photographer need to learn his mistake hours later after toiling in the chemical infused darkroom. You might think that's a disadvantage, but those guys got swag even while learning photography. Today learning photography lost that swag because you're doing something seasoned photographers call "Chimping". It's the action when the new photographer shoots a few snaps, then hunch over his LCD screen and review his shot. Then repeat.  There's no swag in chimping.

That's why you need to know your camera and lighting. You need to learn everything about your camera and your light settings in every situations. I know it's rote, but you need to know this by heart because there are million of things that can go wrong in a shoot. Photography settings are that one thing you can control. Often times the task is upon you to take control and be in control.

3. It's 90% trouble shooting and 10% photography.

So you master your lighting and your camera function. Now you need to make sure your equipment don't fail on you or your make up artist is late. Always allow the space for changes in the situation that jeopardizes your shoot. Like rain or heavy traffic or you dropped your camera. That's pretty much 90% of my day. Making sure things work and at the right place. So always have a back-up plan. Even though it's early for you to have a back-up camera, this should be in the back of your mind early on.

4. Learn Photoshop and Lightroom in and out.

There are no buts about this. Photoshop and Lightroom are your best tools in photography. Sure there's a steep learning curve to it, so just bite the bullet and sit through learning it. There are books you can read and online classes to take. In digital photography, Photoshop is going to be the other half of your workflow professionally. Start learning it now.

Learn online from Adobe Photoshop experts from Kelby Training. They are one of my affiliates, and if you sign up with them I get a commission for the traffic at no extra cost to you. Lynda.com is also another one that I like. And this website, beginnersphotographyclasses.com.

5. Learn the rules of photography and master them. Then break the rule and let your style show.

This is probably the best advice I got, and I took this to heart when I first started. The benefits of knowing the rules are know how to break 'em. When you can say, "yeah, I thought about framing it at the point of power, but I wanted this boxed in look. Like she's really small and trapped." If you don't understand what I just said, it's ten times worse when you show your work and a critic are saying that about your work. This rule encompasses all the rules above. If you know what rule you're breaking, you can say it before critics can and then retort that that's your style!

So don't be an asshole and learn everything about your camera and how lighting works. Know that 90% of the time, you're just trouble-shooting problems and using Photoshop. And with mastery comes the swagger of breaking some rules.

Good luck and have fun this September. Makes lot of friends and beautiful photographs.

I'll see you in my next post. This is Charlie Wang, signing off. Cheers!