77 Life Rules for Photographers

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If you're around the photography industry for any length of time, you start to develop a sense of the necessary, the desirable and the outright horrible. This is the code we came up with in no particular order. Add your own below.

77 Life Rules for Photographers
Image via Suliman Sallehi
  1. Always carry a camera
  2. It ain’t the camera, it’s the 12 inches behind it (Ansel Adams was right)
  3. Glass before bodies
  4. Learning before gear
  5. Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony – Nobody who matters cares
  6. Don’t shoot for free
  7. Unless it’s your grandmother – jeesh, don’t be so cheap
  8. Don’t touch the model (seriously, don’t be that guy)
  9. Sleep in? Lol
  10. Shooting sunsets is a cliche
  11. If you don’t like sunset photos, you’re probably already dead
  12. Nobody cares that you only shoot prime
  13. Buying gear won’t make you a better photographer
  14. Except for an 85mm f1.4 – that is a sweet sweet lens
  15. On a full frame, 20mm for landscapes, 35mm for street, 85mm for portrait, >120 for action.
  16. Tips like that are a guideline, not a rule, so don’t lose your bananas about it
  17. Photography competition judges are rarely your potential clients
  18. Clients have very different tastes to photo competition judges
  19. Clients have very different tastes to professional photographers
  20. Get it right in camera
  21. Nobody gets it right in camera for everything
  22. When somebody tells you they always get it right in camera, look at their portfolio to see examples of photos that need post-production work
  23. Post-production is part of the photographic process – you either leave it to factory settings on your camera, or you control it yourself
  24. Go easy on Photoshop
  25. Competition? Photojournalist? Don’t remove objects from your photos
  26. Smoothing skin and making people skinny in Photoshop is a horrible reflection on society
  27. Literally, no client will ever complain if you skillfully smooth their skin or make them skinnier
  28. Converging verticals is a photography sin
  29. Converging verticals look cool as hell
  30. Regularly help other people learn
  31. Getting angry at cheaper/free photographers is a waste of time
  32. Figure out how to charge more, not less
  33. Regular event photographers need to be fit – you should be too
  34. When somebody asks for the unedited photos, the answer is no
  35. If they insist, and you really cannot get out of it, then the price is 10x
  36. University can teach you how to be an excellent photographer, but there are other ways too
  37. University probably won’t teach you how to be a good business person
  38. The second shooter gets paid regardless of whether you do
  39. When somebody invites you to an event, then casually mentions that you should bring your camera, tell them you are busy that night
  40. Learn how to shoot in manual
  41. Know that many pros shoot in aperture priority
  42. If you post it online, it WILL get stolen
  43. Photo thieves were probably never going to be a paying client anyway – but chase the ones who might have been
  44. It’s ok that your camera gear costs more than your car
  45. Some photographers are all about the technical, some are all about the artistic. There is room for everyone
  46. Every. Great. Photographer. In. History. Did. Post. Production.
  47. Look after your camera, but just remember, it’s a tool, not a priceless ancient artefact – it’s gonna get wear and tear
  48. Nobody knows where lens cloths disappear – carry lots
  49. Try film photography – you will probably love it
  50. Stop telling people you only shoot film – nobody cares
  51. If you ever find yourself using the phrase “real photographers” then give yourself an uppercut
  52. Everybody struggles to find their own style – it’s part of the journey
  53. Find your own style
  54. Own a Russian film camera once – you will love it
  55. If spending $500 upsets you, don’t enter a camera store
  56. If spending $5000 upsets you, consider moving to where there is no camera store
  57. Learn to take criticism gracefully
  58. Give criticism only when it’s asked for
  59. 2 Minute noodles can be skillfully prepared when you need to save for the holy trinity of lenses
  60. Read more
  61. Practice even more
  62. People don’t care why you couldn’t get the shot – they simply move on
  63. Want to shoot a photo you saw? Add your own twist – copying is boring
  64. Get closer
  65. Get closer
  66. Get closer
  67. If you know who made those previous three rules, you’re probably not a beginner anymore
  68. You will be somewhat unhappy with your shots from 3 years ago
  69. Photographing models to meet women is kind of creepy – again, don’t be that guy
  70. If you are standing on public property, you are almost certainly allowed to photograph anything you like – people, buildings, whatever
  71. Don’t be a douchebag about that
  72. Ask before photographing kids
  73. Preferably ask before photographing adults
  74. Smile
  75. Use your feet to zoom in
  76. There are no rules for photography, but there are laws for physics
  77. The only person who has to be satisfied with your photography is ultimately you

Got any more rules we should have covered? Add your own in the comments!

77 Life Rules for Photographers
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About the author

Rob Wood (Admin)

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography pushed him into building this fantastic place, and you can get to know him better here

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