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Photography Expert Advice and Interviews

Advice and wisdom from veteran photographers and industry experts can help amateur shutterbugs transform their part-time hobby into a fruitful, long-term profession. Read on to see what some of the world’s most notable photographers have to say about these important topics:

On “Making” Pictures

“Try not to take pictures, which simply show what something looks like. By the way you put the elements of an image together in a frame show us something we have never seen before and will never see again. And remember that catching a moment makes the image even more unique in the stream of time.”

“Also, try to do workshops with photographers whose work you admire, but first ask around to make sure they are good teachers as well as good photographers. Taking good pictures is easy. Making very good pictures is difficult. Making great pictures is almost impossible.”

Constantine Manos, award-winning American photographer, Eric Kim Street Photography

“Creativity is unpredictable, but craftsmanship is the essence of the art. The secret is to work the edges of the day. You have to push the envelope on light, particularly if you’re working in color. Shoot at dawn and continue in late afternoon, into sunset’s warm tones, and even half an hour beyond, to capture subtle flickering firelight. Experiment with exposure and film speed to make the most of available light.”

David Alan Harvey, National Geographic photographer

On Gaining Exposure

“Have a website. This is your gateway; this is what people see and make judgments on. The site should be clean, well edited, and feature your biography (without spelling mistakes or old information). Your email should contain a signature in the body of your email with your contact information AND you should also have a business card, even if you are just starting out. Please note as well that in Asia, a business card is a powerful business tool.”

Nick Papadopoulos, International Director of VII Photo agency, which represents international photojournalists

On Trying New Things

“Speak to the people you are working with and don’t worry about being shy — once people know what you are up to, they are normally happy to have their picture taken. Be patient, even if this means talking to your subject without your camera to gain their trust before going back later to take your shots. It is essential to respect the cultural boundaries and form bonds before taking pictures — a smile can go a long way to break down any such barrier!”

“Don’t always shoot on a long lens from across the street. Get up close and personal, and use a wider lens such as 35mm or 50mm.”

Jon Nicholson, staff photographer for Condé Nast Traveler and official photographer for the London 2012 Olympic Games

“Try everything. Photojournalism, fashion, portraiture, nudes, whatever. You won’t know what kind of photographer you are until you try it. During one summer vacation (in college) I worked for a born-again tabletop photographer. All day long we’d photograph socks and listen to Christian radio. That summer I learned I was neither a studio photographer nor a born-again Christian. Another year I worked for a small suburban newspaper chain and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed assignment photography.

“Fun is important. You should like the process and the subject. If you are bored or unhappy with your subject it will show up in the pictures. If in your heart of hearts you want to take pictures of kitties, take pictures of kitties.”

Alec Soth, Magnum Photo

Conclusion

As you master the technical aspects of your craft, study the brilliant masters who helped shape the medium, and experiment with light and color to develop your signature style, always be willing to seek out advice from the industry’s leading voices. While their wisdom and insight may shape your perception of the field of photography, their knowledge of market trends and current technology will serve a much more practical purpose: helping you launch a successful career.