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.
- Always carry a camera
- It ain’t the camera, it’s the 12 inches behind it (Ansel Adams was right)
- Glass before bodies
- Learning before gear
- Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony – Nobody who matters cares
- Don’t shoot for free
- Unless it’s your grandmother – jeesh, don’t be so cheap
- Don’t touch the model (seriously, don’t be that guy)
- Sleep in? Lol
- Shooting sunsets is a cliche
- If you don’t like sunset photos, you’re probably already dead
- Nobody cares that you only shoot prime
- Buying gear won’t make you a better photographer
- Except for an 85mm f1.4 – that is a sweet sweet lens
- On a full frame, 20mm for landscapes, 35mm for street, 85mm for portrait, >120 for action.
- Tips like that are a guideline, not a rule, so don’t lose your bananas about it
- Photography competition judges are rarely your potential clients
- Clients have very different tastes to photo competition judges
- Clients have very different tastes to professional photographers
- Get it right in camera
- Nobody gets it right in camera for everything
- 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
- Post-production is part of the photographic process – you either leave it to factory settings on your camera, or you control it yourself
- Go easy on Photoshop
- Competition? Photojournalist? Don’t remove objects from your photos
- Smoothing skin and making people skinny in Photoshop is a horrible reflection on society
- Literally, no client will ever complain if you skillfully smooth their skin or make them skinnier
- Converging verticals is a photography sin
- Converging verticals look cool as hell
- Regularly help other people learn
- Getting angry at cheaper/free photographers is a waste of time
- Figure out how to charge more, not less
- Regular event photographers need to be fit – you should be too
- When somebody asks for the unedited photos, the answer is no
- If they insist, and you really cannot get out of it, then the price is 10x
- University can teach you how to be an excellent photographer, but there are other ways too
- University probably won’t teach you how to be a good business person
- The second shooter gets paid regardless of whether you do
- When somebody invites you to an event, then casually mentions that you should bring your camera, tell them you are busy that night
- Learn how to shoot in manual
- Know that many pros shoot in aperture priority
- If you post it online, it WILL get stolen
- Photo thieves were probably never going to be a paying client anyway – but chase the ones who might have been
- It’s ok that your camera gear costs more than your car
- Some photographers are all about the technical, some are all about the artistic. There is room for everyone
- Every. Great. Photographer. In. History. Did. Post. Production.
- Look after your camera, but just remember, it’s a tool, not a priceless ancient artefact – it’s gonna get wear and tear
- Nobody knows where lens cloths disappear – carry lots
- Try film photography – you will probably love it
- Stop telling people you only shoot film – nobody cares
- If you ever find yourself using the phrase “real photographers” then give yourself an uppercut
- Everybody struggles to find their own style – it’s part of the journey
- Find your own style
- Own a Russian film camera once – you will love it
- If spending $500 upsets you, don’t enter a camera store
- If spending $5000 upsets you, consider moving to where there is no camera store
- Learn to take criticism gracefully
- Give criticism only when it’s asked for
- 2 Minute noodles can be skillfully prepared when you need to save for the holy trinity of lenses
- Read more
- Practice even more
- People don’t care why you couldn’t get the shot – they simply move on
- Want to shoot a photo you saw? Add your own twist – copying is boring
- Get closer
- Get closer
- Get closer
- If you know who made those previous three rules, you’re probably not a beginner anymore
- You will be somewhat unhappy with your shots from 3 years ago
- Photographing models to meet women is kind of creepy – again, don’t be that guy
- If you are standing on public property, you are almost certainly allowed to photograph anything you like – people, buildings, whatever
- Don’t be a douchebag about that
- Ask before photographing kids
- Preferably ask before photographing adults
- Use your feet to zoom in
- There are no rules for photography, but there are laws for physics
- 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!
True! Clever! True!
Good list. I would add… Composition rules above all else
Thanks, Kent. 🙂
Be kind to the environment, leave no trace of your presence except the images taken.
Take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill nothing but time – John Muir
I rarely read “77” for anything…..let alone “rules,” but this was good….really good!
I’ve been a serious semi-non-professional for 40 years and love your list! Consider adding “Experiment”. Some of my best shots were ones I had only a glimmer of hope would be cool.
Very true, Zeke. And thanks!
Learning to use light to best advantage is as important as composition. Get out of bed while it’s still dark.
I still struggle getting up so early 🙁
Rules can be constraining so don’t be afraid to bend or break them. Just be sure not to harm anyone, yourself included.
Your first expensive lenses will marry you to the brand.
Lightroom, Photoshop, Snapseed, and NIK Silver Efex are a must.
Leica has the best glass but the worst digital interface.
Take your time and center the histogram before pressing the shutter.
Tell a story with your photo. If you don’t have one forget it.
Get your ego out of the photoshoot.
Ego is why you photograph.
Strive for a technically perfect photo. You can’t focus in retrospect.
So right about the lenses. Justifying the massive expense of changing platforms is tough. 🙁
Excellent advice, but include Skylum software in your list.
1- Know the rules – before you decide to break them
2- Don’t use Creativity as a excuse for sloppiness
3- Not every pic needs to tell a story
Love the dualities one after the other, they add the nuance of perspective.
Love when it’s just one rule for something. 🙂
I’m w/the guy above, rarely read 77 anything, this was worth it; tweeting!
Thanks, Felipe. Appreciate the share.
From Outdoor Photography many years ago
F8 and be there.
Oh I can’t believe I forgot that one!
Nice list! I thought it was going to be difficult to come up with 77 items but yuo did easily.
I’ve got two additions. They may apply to me personally more than others becasue I’ve made these two mistakes more than any others.
1. Carry extra batteries.
2. Make sure you have your camera set up for the kind of photography you are going to do that day before you get to your destination. You don’t need to fool with your camera or any necessary gear once you get there. When I get out of my car I am ready to go. At least I hope so.
When you think you are close, get closer!
In the words of Captain Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean. “You must be a photographer for the photographer’s code to apply and your not. And, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules, Welcome aboard”. .. The only real rule I have is “*Always Have Fun*”.. if I’m not having fun, whats the point of doing it. Great list Rob. I may quote these in other places. ;))
There is a difference between post production and digital art. There is a line and once crossed; it is no longer a photograph.
Brilliant list. I agree with all of them. And yeah, I know, nobody cares… 🙂
Shoot with intention but above all else, shoot. You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Very nice list! I think the last point is the most important! 🙂
– Plan, conceptualize, and then shoot what is actually in front of you when you get there.
– (Almost) no weather is bad photography weather
– If your knees aren’t dirty then their is still a better shot to be had
– ask more experienced photographers questions only when you are ready for their answers
– Learn, learn, learn and then be generous
– Moving from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm is the secret to success
– There are always many different ways to shoot the same subject – try as many as you can dream up
Its good to understand order before experimenting with chaos!
Ohh, I like that one.
Treat your live subjects the same way you would like to be treated—with patience, respect, and kindness.
Always take extra batteries with you, ALWAYS!
Wait for the mood to gather within before taking the picture.
Always look behind you to see what you might have missed.
78. Don’t tell your spouse how much you spend on photography gear.
79.If your spouse finds out how much you spend on photography gear it will cost you double in what she wants, i.e. furniture, dresses, dinners – you get the idea.
Work the shot.
if you are not moving your feet, you are not working the shot
Learn what the light can do. Go back if you have to capture it.
Not a lover of rules but these were excellent and sooooo true
1) When walking around with a camera, look like you were a camera. Look up, down, near and far. Crop with your mind. Art is all around you all the time if you are ready to see it.
2) When you are done with a shoot, reset your camera to whatever you consider your default settings. Then you don’t have to wonder how it’s set when you need to take a quick shot.
3) Walk around on automatic. Take your shot. Then go to manual and try to improve on it.
Be courteous to surrounding photographers. We all want the shot.
Great list by the way.
Lighting is 50% of the shot