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Top 11 Things Photographers Wish They Learned in Photo School

November 23, 2010

11) How to treat others.

Treating other people with respect and compassion is not something any photo school can really teach. It has more to do with how you were raised by your parents. But one thing is for certain, it matters. Do you ever wonder how some photographers get better access or more cooperation that others? Do you ever wonder how some photographers can consistently find themselves in dangerous situations, yet always walk away unharmed? If you take a closer look, you might find that it has less to do with their photography skills, and more to do with how they treat other people.

10) How to maintain a balanced life.

It can happen to anyone, in any profession. One day you wake up and realize that you’ve been living a life that is 100% work, and little else. The pressure to succeed is so great that it’s easy to get caught in this trap. With photography, it’s important to maintain a balance, and open yourself up to as much creative stimuli as possible.

9) How to maintain an ethical standing in a changing photography business.

In photojournalism schools, the ethics of photography is a topic often discussed. It’s a subject that grows increasingly difficult as technology evolves. Early in their career, photographers need solid mental tools that will guide them through changes in both the industry and society.

8) Where to find story ideas and things to photograph.

For many photographers, it’s a challenge to come up with self-generated assignments – especially those that the photographer has a deep long-term interest in. A common misconception is that you need to travel far away to find a meaningful story. Great images are all around us, and photographers need to be open enough to see them.

7) You don’t have to be perfect.

Photographers fresh out of school are usually full of energy and have their eyes set on a bright future, and demand the absolute best from themselves. In a school environment, you study photo history and talk about the best of the best images ever created. It tends to set the personal expectation bar at a very high level – that everything needs to be perfect if you want to have a successful career.

6) How to keep your head up, navigate obstacles, and handle rejection.

Photographers have notoriously fragile egos, which makes rejection such a difficult thing to handle. How to handle rejection, and how to remain positive is something more suited to a therapist than a photo school. But it’s an important lesson to learn. Remember that you will face your share of rejection, and you will experience failure. A photographer needs to have confidence in themselves to carry-on regardless, yet still maintain an open mind so they can effectively convert failure into improvement.

5) How to continue to evolve and grow your career.

Today, the industry changes so quickly, it’s easy to become out of date. New opportunities are born constantly, and photographers need to learn how to spot them, and have the courage to try something new. It’s easy to find success in a specific niche and get comfortable within it. But few realize that this niche won’t last forever, and that what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow.

4) How to market myself, and my work.

Marketing is a mystery to most photographers. Contrary to popular belief, your images aren’t going to market themselves for you. You may be an amazing photographer, but if you don’t market yourself – nobody will ever know. Even an average photographer, with the right marketing efforts, can look better than they actually are — and end up with a successful career.

Photographers need to learn that marketing themselves is just as important as shooting the picture.

3) It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.

Cameras and lenses, computer hardware and software, are required tools for photographers. But too often, photographers expect too much from their tools, and not enough from themselves. It’s important to remember that the equipment doesn’t make a photographer. Don’t expect the gear to do the heavy lifting.

2) How to price their own work.

What is the value of an image? What’s the value of your time? What are you worth? How do you justify this to a client? Many photographers think that if they give their images away really cheap in the beginning, they’re making a smart business decision that will give them a competitive advantage over a more expensive photographer. After a while, the photographer realizes that they’re caught in a trap – they set the bar too low at the start, and are unable to raise prices later.

Photographers need to decide not to sell themselves short, and to be confident with that decision.

1) The realities of photography as a business.

This is the overwhelming item that comes in first place. Let’s face it, people who go to photo school do so to learn how to shoot pictures – not to do boring stuff like add numbers. Business practices are usually an afterthought – something that will eventually come later, on a need-to-know basis. This is a huge mistake.

from Photoshelter

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