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kyle cassidy

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FAQ [Jun. 16th, 2010|07:38 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Exile Mix]

A Reader Writes: I want to be a photographer someday. Any advice?

Yes, lots.

Photography is a mixture of Artistic Ability and Technical Skill -- the magic of the mix isn't written in stone. The world is filled with technically proficient but artistically uninspired photographers, there seem to be a smaller number of artistically gifted but technically unsavvy artists, but they're out there as well. But the most successful people have a mixture of both -- they have an artistic vision, and they posses the technical skills to know how to make that a reality. The technical skills are the easy part, you can learn them from a book -- f-stops and shutter speeds and light modifiers, etc. The difficult thing to come up with is an idea.

0) Possibly the most important thing of all: Find creative people and make them part of your world. They don't have to be photographers. They can be writers, or musicians, or actors or puppet makers. Have a peer group of people who are doing things. They'll be your inspiration, your facilitators, your idea makers, your artistic partners. Do this for the rest of your life. Artists rarely survive in a vacuum.

1) Get a camera. It doesn't matter what kind. Eventually you'll most likely end up with a Digital SLR but in the meantime a point and shoot, your cell phone, a 1946 Brownie Box Camera, all these will work to start out.

2) Study photography -- this doesn't mean go to school for photography, but it means pay attention to photographs tear photos that you like out of magazines and keep them in a scrap book, get photography books from the library, from the bookstore, at yard sales. Learn what types of photography you like. Landscapes? People? Bands? Artificially lit? This will start to provide you with your visual vocabulary -- which will be important in figuring out what you want to photograph. Given a camera many new photographers are left baffled as to what they ought to be taking photos of. Subscribe to photography magazines, fashion magazines, travel magazines.

3) Take photos. What is it you're interested in? Enlist friends. Take trips, set up elaborate hoaxes, copy great works of art, copy not so great works of art.

4) Make a portfolio of your 12 best photos. these can be 4x6 1 hour prints. Every month try and replace at least one of these with a better photo. Do this for the rest of your life.

5) Evaluate your equipment. When you know specifically why what you have can't do what you want, it's time to think about upgrading. Do this for the rest of your life.

6) Find someone who will pay you to take photographs. It's always easier to learn on someone elses dime. It doesn't matter what the job is -- assistant to another photographer, part time local newspaper, photographing houses for a Realtor, etc.

7) Go to school. You can learn a lot more quickly this way. Things like advanced lighting techniques, gallery framing, etc. can be more quickly figured out in an environment like this.

8) Show your work. It doesn't have to be in a traditional gallery, it can be in your parents garage, or in your stairwell. Some friends and I used to have an open-air art gallery we called "Show up and Show" where we'd meet along a length of chain link fence, hang out photos up and stand around and talk to passers by.

9) Take lots of photos, throw out the bad ones, only ever show people your best. Do this for the rest of your life.

10) Stay busy. The opposite of busy is bored. Don't visit that place. Do this for the rest of your life.

Hope this helps.


Add me as a friend on LiveJournal, Add me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: hippypaul
2010-06-16 12:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you. A most helpful post.
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[User Picture]From: uncleamos
2010-06-16 12:41 pm (UTC)
I might try number 4. Great idea.
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[User Picture]From: i
2010-06-16 01:05 pm (UTC)
i liked that one as well.
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[User Picture]From: karohemd
2010-06-16 02:16 pm (UTC)
That certainly caught my eye, too.
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From: rcmckee
2010-06-16 12:44 pm (UTC)

STOLEN.

Also printed and posted on walls.

With attribution and weblinks, of course.... ;->
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-16 12:53 pm (UTC)

Re: STOLEN.

I added an LJ "repost" button that just launched today.
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[User Picture]From: karohemd
2010-06-16 02:15 pm (UTC)

Re: STOLEN.

I'd just wondered where that came from. Haven't read any LJ news yet. Groovy.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-16 12:54 pm (UTC)

Thanks

I got a lot out of this post. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: keirf
2010-06-16 01:04 pm (UTC)
Inspiring stuff. Thanks!

However, I think I'd rather be a photographer than a photogropher.
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[User Picture]From: keirf
2010-06-17 06:15 am (UTC)
Oh, I thought the repeated question and spelling mistake were meant to add some kind of urgency to the post - not that they were just mistakes. The old unedited post had a very peculiar and slightly uneasy feeling to it.
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[User Picture]From: paisleycat
2010-06-16 01:05 pm (UTC)
This is really fabulous advice. I appreciate it, and took the liberty of posting a link to this from my FB.

I'll making my first 12 best gallery today on Flickr.
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[User Picture]From: uncleamos
2010-06-16 07:13 pm (UTC)
Can we have an online 12 best swap?

Here's mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9081271@N02/sets/72157624165142607/

I'm just starting out though, so I may well replace more than one each month, at first!
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[User Picture]From: paisleycat
2010-06-16 07:42 pm (UTC)

What an excellent idea

We can practice multiple tenets of this good advice all in one go.

Here's mine:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlcollins/sets/72157624163294711/

I've added you as a contact. If you want we can share comments on these pics, but I don't want to presume.

Thanks!

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[User Picture]From: uncleamos
2010-06-16 10:47 pm (UTC)

Re: What an excellent idea

Oh, feel free! A word of warning: my comments may be limited to "pretty!"
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[User Picture]From: ladycelia
2010-06-16 01:22 pm (UTC)
Inspirational, Kyle, and a good reminder. Reposting.
Thanks.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-16 01:31 pm (UTC)

Best Advice I've ever seen for photographers...

This is excellent advice, the only two things I'd add are
In number one, learn your equipment, a good photographer can push lesser equipment to the limits.
for number three take pictures of everything, sometimes, strangely enough, what your most interested in is not what your best at photographing. Find your niche and work harder on the rest.

Reed
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From: roguish_ink
2010-06-16 02:03 pm (UTC)
great stuff :)
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From: jkndrkn
2010-06-16 02:15 pm (UTC)
> 5) Evaluate your equipment. When you know specifically why what you have can't do what you want, it's time to think about upgrading. Do this for the rest of your life.

Good idea. But be careful not to fall into the trap of fixating on equipment and turning your hobby or your art medium into a way to channel a tendency to fixate on accumulating a vast amount of unused gear. The key is to fully explore the limits of the equipment you do have and make great art along the way. Lots of great music was written and recorded with cheap low-end instruments and equipment.
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[User Picture]From: paisleycat
2010-06-16 07:45 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm so glad to see you commenting here. I highly recommend all of Monsieur Cassidy's LJ. I enjoy it consistently.

(Now it is time to go photograph the Farmer's Market!)
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From: jkndrkn
2010-06-16 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yis. It always brightens my day to find still-active pockets within Livejournal. Hope the weather stays favorable during your photo-sesh!
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[User Picture]From: kimmykat_______
2010-06-16 03:25 pm (UTC)

Yet another reason I follow you, Kyle...

You are always so helpful. Thank you.

And, thanks again for sharing your perspective of the world!!
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-16 03:44 pm (UTC)

Re: Yet another reason I follow you, Kyle...

woohoo!
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[User Picture]From: hejjhog
2010-06-16 03:50 pm (UTC)
I've lurked for quite a while, and wanted to add an often overlooked peer group to your list:
0)Possibly the most important thing of all: Find creative people and make them part of your world. They don't have to be photographers. They can be writers, or musicians, or actors or puppet makers. Have a peer group of people who are doing things. They'll be your inspiration, your facilitators, your idea makers, your artistic partners. Do this for the rest of your life. Artists rarely survive in a vacuum.
Scientists are by far some of the most creative people you'll ever meet. They are constantly challenged to think of new ways of looking at the world, to develop new approaches to everyday things etc For some reason, people usually see a dichotomy (Art vs. Science), which is completely non-existent, instead of a unity.
At least as a young scientist who hangs out mostly with artists or other scientists, I just had to speak up. Because before I stumbled into their world, my painter/sculptor/photographer friends didn't think scientists were their breed of fabulous.
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[User Picture]From: rag_doll_stiche
2010-06-16 05:45 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. My significant other is more technically minded (on the computer side of it and less the science though) and he helps me in ways some of my most creative friends can't. I love it about him.
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[User Picture]From: hejjhog
2010-06-16 07:05 pm (UTC)
*and vice versa, btw!!!*
(I re-read this and realized I sound a bit too snug and snobbish!)
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-16 07:37 pm (UTC)
You will be Very Pleased with my upcoming ROCKET SCIENTIST AND ASTRONOMER TRAVEL DIARY!!!
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[User Picture]From: kuroshii
2010-06-17 04:29 am (UTC)
OMG SQUEE!
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[User Picture]From: avivasedai
2010-06-16 04:29 pm (UTC)

Thank you.

This is a really great list. I can see its benefit to those wanting to be professionals, as well as those like myself who might be interested hobbyists. Also, thanks for the "repost" button - very interesting.
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[User Picture]From: yerseester
2010-06-16 04:34 pm (UTC)
Hey Kyle,
When I met you in November, I was smack dab in the middle of graphic design classes.
I am pleased to say that I am graduating this week.
I asked you if I could include your "telescopefail" photo in my final project.
After your 'yes', I made the best work of my Photoshopin life.
Thanks.
--Tina Bobina.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-16 06:01 pm (UTC)
most excellent!
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-06-16 05:04 pm (UTC)

Thank you!

Thank you so much for answering my question, and giving me so much advice and things to think about! I'll definetly use this.



Sincerly,
B
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2010-06-16 05:42 pm (UTC)
Lots of great, solid advice here. Also, I see that the LJ rep has done a fantastic job of using the new social media tool LJ just added. 8)

P.S. How are we coming on the backups? Has there been any talk of making the backups be cross-platform (i.e, being able to convert them into a Blogger account, WordPress account, Xanga account, etc.)?
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-16 06:00 pm (UTC)
backups are still comming along -- the big infrastructure upgrade that will allow them to happen is, i believe, complete, and was largely responsible for the slow response times lj was having about six weeks ago.

the problem isn't in backing up LJ, but rather verifying all the comments -- so that i can't backup my lj, then edit your comment here to say "i build bombs and am a terrorist!" and then restore it, that's whats holding things up.

I don't know that LJ has any financial incentive to provide a tool to help it's userbase move to wordpress, though wordpress might have an incentive to figure out how to move your LJ account over.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2010-06-16 06:06 pm (UTC)
Even if the monetary incentive isn't there for LJ to allow backups to move to other platforms, it would be worth asking. The worst that happens is that someone at LJ says "Let's do it" and then someone has to do the work. A "no" is just status quo.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to ask if LJ is planning to do a PR campaign around the idea. This may directly or indirectly lead to other blogging sites wanting to be able to convert LJ backups to their platforms and the other platforms being able to convert their backups to LJ.

Thanks for the prompt response.
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[User Picture]From: rag_doll_stiche
2010-06-16 05:43 pm (UTC)
I loved this. Thank you so much. As an aspiring photographer I sometimes get discouraged, but so much of what I do daily, you've touched upon here. I admire your work greatly. This filled me with a lot of hope. Thank you. :)
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[User Picture]From: russtycat
2010-06-16 06:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post. It is full of so much good information. Finding a peer group is wonderful advise that pays off time and again. When I found other artists to work with and get support from it changed my whole career.
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[User Picture]From: harper_knight
2010-06-17 12:38 am (UTC)
Okay, that "Show up and Show" open-air gallery thing is a great idea. I might have to see if I can get some of my friends at uni in on something like that.
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[User Picture]From: magickcat
2010-06-17 03:00 am (UTC)

Pardon me for being a cokplete sap right now, please.

I can't even read this whole thing right now without crying.
I really admire the fact that you keep yourself so... accessible and friendly. You are talented, you know that, but you aren't a big giant snotface about it. (I have met many who totally are.)
You have given me kind words in the past, and they stick, they really do. Its funny, I haven't even had the opportunity to meet you, but your words work well.
I love photography. Always have. I didn't go to school (can't even afford to right now) but I do try new things, fuss around with settings, see "What does this do?" etc etc.
I was just thinking this morning that I should look up some of the things you suggest and whatnot and now you're posting all of this.
I don't have a "real" website for my photos at this point, just a FB page, but you do what you can, right? I have a point and shoot because it is all I could/can afford. People tend to not take me seriously because of that. You know what? I have some damn good pictures and I actually had someone say to me the other day "Wow, I bet you wish you could take something like that, huh?" I DID. All of the pictures currently on my wall were taken by me. If that makes me seem conceited, I'm sorry, but I am proud of them and sometimes we all need to remind ourselves that we CAN do something. I've been going batty over the past couple of months because my computer had some weird thing happen where it wouldn't do ANYTHING photo related. I was going totally crazypants over here. Finally, a friend of mine fixed it, so I am getting back into trying to edit a hugely ginormous backlog of photostuffs. Huzzah!
Anyway, so yeah, in short (too late) thank you.
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[User Picture]From: hggearhart
2010-06-17 03:15 am (UTC)

advice

You forgot one thing

make mistakes, lots of mistakes, you will learn from your mistakes
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From: irulan_amy
2010-06-17 03:17 am (UTC)
Really helpful post, thank you.
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[User Picture]From: tigerinvaseline
2010-06-17 05:20 am (UTC)
"Visual Vocabulary" I suppose it makes sense that an English Major would hook onto this phrase.

Great advice kyle...besides the phrase, the 12 photo 4x6 is a great suggestion as an exercise. Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: gothindulgence
2010-06-17 12:41 pm (UTC)
Cheers for this post. Zapped that onto my LJ. ;) One of my bad habits I'm still fighting with, is trying to narrow down my selection of handful of favs from a set. I'm getter better at it.. used to post everything, now I whittle down to about 10 :) per shoot. And love the idea of getting fellow creative folk and doing a show. Why didnt I think of that before? I wil have to send an email to our group and see if I can try organise something like that. What a fantastic idea.
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[User Picture]From: kylecassidy
2010-06-17 12:49 pm (UTC)
one bit of advice i do have is that no more than one photo from any shoot should make it into your final 12 portfolio -- otherwise it gives the impression that you don't have enough material. so out of every shoot, though you may be looking for 10 pieces for an article or editorial, you need to take away not more than one of those yourself.

thanks for posting, you've been doing some nice stuff lately
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[User Picture]From: legoline
2010-06-17 07:34 pm (UTC)
This is a wonderful, wonderful post.
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[User Picture]From: light_of_summer
2010-08-03 04:46 am (UTC)
Thank you! (Here after seeing a repost on elisem's journal.)
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