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FAQ - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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.


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Comments:
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[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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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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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: 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: 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: 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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