A Summary of Photographic Advice from 2014

After a year of religiously reading hundreds of photography blogs and websites, I feel I am now fully qualified to dispense the following summary of advice on how to improve your photography and become the photographer you always dreamed you could be:

Most photographers won't ever need more than a basic dSLR. Upgrade your camera to a full-frame dSLR as soon as you can afford it. DSLRs are dinosaurs. MILCs  are the wave of the photographic future. Crop sensor cameras aren't nearly as good as full frame sensor cameras. The difference between crop and full frame sensors is negligible. Skilled photographers can make good pictures with anything. Shoot in Auto while you learn to see photographically. Let your camera do the work for you. Use Aperture Priority. Never set your camera to anything but Manual. Learn the exposure triangle. Expose for the highlights. Expose to the right. Bracket your exposures. Use exposure compensation. Composition is the most important part of photography. Learn the rule of thirds. Break the rule of thirds. Learn the rest of the rules of composition. Break all of the rules (but not in a camera club competition)! Your kit lens is a bargain, and tack sharp. Upgrade your kit lens. Buy a nifty fifty. Only use prime lenses. Prime lenses are less expensive and sharper than zoom lenses. Zoom lenses are more flexible than primes. Never change your lens outside. Clean your sensor regularly. Only let a professional clean your sensor. Always use a tripod. Tripods restrict your creativity. Use a proper lighting set-up. Use a flash. Use available light. Never raise your ISO above 400. New cameras have amazing capabilities, don't be afraid to crank up your ISO. Use graduated filters for landscapes. Don't bother with graduated filters, just do it in post. Always use a polarizer. Never use a polarizer at sunrise or sunset. Golden hour and blue hour are the only times of day worth shooting. Creative photographers can make good images in any light. Shoot RAW. Shoot JPEG. Use a grey card to set your white balance. Set your white balance to Auto. Fix your white balance in post. Take photography classes. Improve by just getting out and shooting. Shoot everyday. Shoot everything. Don't be a generalist. Specialize in one type of photography. Choose the right gear for the job. Pick one lens and one camera and use it for a year. Do a 365 project. Always carry your camera. Shoot less. Limit yourself to 24 or 36 frames. Pretend you're using film. Use burst mode. Don't burn out your shutter. Be intentional. Research your destination. Make a shot list. Don't forget to turn around. Be spontaneous. Find beauty where you live. Shoot the mundane. Travel to amazing places to keep your photography fresh. Be original. There are no new ideas. Nothing hasn't already been photographed. Find your own vision. There is nothing wrong with shooting things that have been shot a thousand times before. Don't ever shoot cliches. Use Lightroom. Use Photoshop. Use Nik. Use Photomatix. Use OnOne. Use Topaz. Use VSCO. Process in HDR. Process in HDR the right way. Use presets. Use filters. Use post-processing to create your own unique look. Don't overprocess your images! Post your images on Facebook. Post your images on Twitter. Post your images on Flickr. Post your images on 500px. Post your images on Google+. Post your images on Instagram. Never post dSLR images on Instagram. Don't spam-post your images. Join Ello. Never post your images on social media. Post only your second best images. Save your best images for people who will pay money for them. Watermark all of your images. Never watermark your images. Create a micro stock account. Never sell your images for less than they're worth. Print your photography. Photography should be a digital medium only. Photography is not art. Photography should never hang in a gallery. Photography is the art of our time.  Your photograph is worth 6.5 million.  No, it's really not.  

Note: The style of this blog is based on the viral post by momma Ava Neyer about baby sleep advice. You can read it here. While there's a lot of conflicting information about learning and doing photography out there, for me, sorting it all out is half the fun.

If you've read or been given conflicting advice, please share it in the comments.

 If you want to know where I'm reading and learning about the craft, here's a list of some of my favorite photographers, blogs, and websites. 

Photographers:

  • Art Wolfe, www.artwolfe.com - The photopgrapher you wish were your uncle.
  • Jenna Martin, www.jennamartinphotography.com - The photographer you want to eat ice cream with.
  • Marc Adamus, www.marcadamus.com - The photographer you want to share a tent with.
  • David DuChemin, davidduchemin.com - The photographer who makes you think.
  • Karen Hutton, www.karenhuttonphotography.com - The photographer you want to apprentice with in the Arcanum.
  • Brian Matiash, brianmatiash.com  and Nicole Young, www.nicolesy.com - The photographers you want to have dinner with after shooting landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Matt Kosklowski, www.mattk.com - The photographer you want to learn Lightroom from.
  • Julianne Kost, www.jkost.com - The photographer who shares great Photoshop and Lightroom video tutorials.
  • Trey Ratcliff, www.stuckincustoms.com - The photographer who made HDR a thing.
  • Rick Sammon, www.ricksammon.com - The photographer you want to travel to Africa with.
  • Gavin Hardcastle, www.gavinhardcastle.com - The photographer you want to learn time lapse from.
  • Martin Rak, www.martinrak.cz - The photographer whose landscapes are unearthly.
  • Marie Laigneau, marielaigneau.com - The photographer you want to shoot street photography with.
  • Chris Smith, www.outofchicago.com - The photographer you want to photograph Chicago with.
  • Anne Belmont, annebelmont.zenfolio.com - The photographer you want to photograph the Chicago Botanic Garden with.

Photography websites:

  • The Phoblographer, www.thephoblographer.com
  • Digital Photography School, www.digitalphotographyschool.com
  • Petapixel, www.petapixel.com
  • Fstoppers, www.fstoppers.com
  • Lightstalkers, www.lightstalkers.com
  • 500px ISO Blog, iso.500px.com
  • KelbyOne, www.kelbyone.com