10 Habits to Better Photos: #3 Advice

phone booth-1 After the “Congratulations!” and the handshake – I like to give new fathers a small piece of advice – which goes something like this:

You’re going to get more advice before the baby is born than you’ll know what to do with.  Some of it will be good.  Some of it will be bad.  Any two pieces may be the exact the opposite of each other.  You’re going to have to figure out how to wade through it.

Photography isn’t anything like being a new parent – but it’s filled with dump trucks of free (and paid) advice.

You’ll hear it everywhere and on just about everything:  full frame sensors, software, film, lenses, books, CaNikon, sensor cleaning, tripods, camera bags, shooting in low light, portfolios, websites, ….  – it can simply be overwhelming.

Example 1: Some will say a Lensbaby is the best tool since the tilt-shift lens was invented – others will simply disregard it as a toy.

Example 2: You might here – “Oh, that’s just a kit lens.”  And then some will point to the new crop of 18-55mm lenses (a common kit lens) – though not heavyweights – they’re pretty sharp.  Here’s the curves for both the Nikon and the new Canon IS.

Bottom line: Everyone has an opinion on how it ought to be done (heck – I have LOTS of opinions).  And everyone’s opinion is different than the photographer standing next to them.  Seriously.  There’s not a lot of “this is the only way” in photography – but some will try to make you believe that their method is the certified / approved / learned from the great photographer / best route to photography success.  And while that may work for them – it simply may not work for you – and that’s OK.

Now – it’s your job to figure out what to do with it.

So, what’s the litmus test to differentiate good advice from bad?  Heck if I know.

But a few things I try:

I read a lot. And then I read more – especially from sources I trust – like Kelby and duChemin – and I supplement that with magazines – like Outdoor Photographer or Popular Photography – and then I read a bunch of photo blogs (some on my list can be found here and here).  That said – I don’t always agree with everything I read – and that’s OK.

Photographic mentors / peers / groups. Any of these can be tough to find – but they can be valuable for bouncing ideas around – and for getting new ones.

Understand your goals. A boat adrift is likely to go with the current more so than one with a destination.  A direction will help you filter much of the information you receive.

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