Sarcastic guide to modern photography

This is my attempt to summarize the lessons that I have learned by myself while being a photographer. They will suit non-commercial and hobbyist photographers the most. The main purpose is to share knowledge and provoke the discussion within the photographic community.

1. Less is more. The less you take — the more you make

Take as few pictures as possible. But when you have to take many — remove the bad ones: first — in camera, right after you take them, then — during the conversion and post-processing, when you can spot defects in the details. 
What you should really try to achieve — is to remove bad pictures in your mind, even before making them.

The main goal— is to shoot that one best frame from the first attempt and before that — not even pointing your camera at anything.

2. Your gear is bad, but you are even worse

Expensive gear won’t make you a better photographer, but it will make you a more confident photographer.

Your camera is your personal assistant, who helps you with your passion. Who’d you like to assist you: a cheap shortsighted paralytic, who is whining all the time and making you nervous, or a reliable, skilled and silent professional?

The more expensive and professional your gear is — the sooner you will realize that the main reason for bad photos is you. That is a usual stage of growth in every photographer’s life, but it is much easier to reach it when you are completely satisfied with your gear.

3. Shot in raw — delete in raw

This is my typical proportion between RAW and JPG

I shoot 99% of my photos in raw. Just because I like not to worry about white balance and like having more space for maneuvers while developing my pics.

But when it comes to storing my pictures — I process them all to jpeg and keep in raw only those which I plan to review in future. Usually, it’s less than one-fifth of the total quantity.

This will help you to save on extra hard drives and will make browsing through the photos much faster (RAWs are rendered as JPGs anyway).

4. Your photos are not your children

If they are ugly — kill them without any sentiments. Don’t convince yourself that if you wait long enough they will grow up and stop being your disappointment.

Don’t tolerate your bad photos. They can’t just be good because they are yours. When you see the defects: missed focus, smudged long exposure, wrong exposition — count them as a failure and remove. Learn from your mistakes and be more careful next time. Otherwise, you may end up explaining everyone why your photos are not spoiled, instead of making good ones — that what is called “art photography” nowadays.

Review your old photos on a regular basis —seeing them with the fresh eyes you may find that your opinion on them has changed a lot since the last time. Get rid of them with no regrets, especially of those that haven’t found any purpose for a long time.

5. Process your photos

For God’s sake, develop your photos! Your picture is not yet ready after you pressed the shutter button. Process your pictures: crop them, change contrast, move curve points — do whatever you need to achieve the desired result. That what makes your photos well-done.

Even if you satisfied with pictures straight from the camera — the only excuse not to make them better — is your laziness.

The idea is to match how you see the world with what your camera can capture.

6. Show yourself

just press this button more often than never

Don’t hesitate to show your photos. Put them on photo-sites, social networks or your blog — then you will definitely get feedback and appreciation. Unless you are a sociopath — then leave them for yourself, no one will ever figure out what was your passion.

7. Good photos are speechless

There’s no need to write huge descriptions or praise your photos by yourself — if they are good — that can be seen without your explanations. Long backstories will not make your bad picture better.

When your caption is full of adjectives telling how awesome is your photo — it predefines viewer’s attitude and may cheer your vanity, but it takes you away from real unaffected impressions.

8. RTFM

Yes, especially when you feel that you know everything. People, who designed you camera want you to read the fucking manual before use. Just do it, as the tribute of respect to their work. That will also prevent you from bothering people on the internet with silly questions.

9. Backup

you can try the cloud-services, but even compact external SSD is better than nohting :)

Backup your photos. But only those that you do really care about.

If you plan to use cloud services — take into account that one day your password may be stolen and your photos may become public — so think carefully what do you put on the web.


Everyone is more than welcome to share their thoughts and own principles in comments :)

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