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What makes a good photographer

August 31, 2014  •  2 Comments

Get a group of photographers together and the conversations are passionate because photographers are passionate people.  They love what they do and many are more than happy to share their experiences, good and bad, to newer photographers to the industry.

I've been extremely lucky to have been mentored by some extremely talented, passionate and creative photographers, but none more so than Melissa Flanagan from A Shot Above the Rest Photography.  Check out her work at www.ashotabovetherest.com.au  she is an amazing wedding and family portrait photographer.  During one of our many discussions, the conversation turned to what makes a great photographer.  You would think its the images they produce right?  Well, of course, a great photographer needs to create great images BUT there is so much more...this is what she told me;

1. You need passion. You need to be obsessed with getting the shot. Not just any shot – THE shot. In other words – you need to think about, dream about, talk about and live photography.

2. You need to be dedicated to the craft of photography. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert. It means you need to be dedicated to BECOMING an expert. No matter how long it takes.

3. You need to be a story teller. Story telling is at the heart of good photography, accordingly, good photographers need to be able to tell stories with their cameras.

4. You need to care about your subject. You need to be a subject-matter expert, whether it’s birds or people or cars or waterfalls. Good photographers learn all there is to know about their subjects BEFORE they pick up a camera. Always photograph your subject as if it is the only way it will be remembered throughout all time.

5. You need patience and lots of it. You need to be willing to practice and study often. You need to be willing to search out or wait out the light. You need to be able to sit in a blind waiting for that next bird or sit on the corner waiting for that next perfect subject. And you need to be willing to invest hours, not minutes in those pursuits.

6. You need a sense of wonder and imagination. You need to be curious about everything you photograph and then you need to be able to play with that curiosity to see what you can come up with.

7. You need to share. You need to be willing to pass on what you learn willingly to others. You need to show your photos to everyone. You need to protect and preserve for others all your important photographic memories.

8. You need to be the kind of photographer who makes OTHER people want to become a photographer.

9. You need to try a little bit harder than the next guy. The good photographers wait an extra 15 minutes for that perfect sunset color. They study their manual at night even when they are tired. They spend money they don’t have to attend workshops and buy books on photography. They go the extra mile…and then they do it again.

10. You need to develop a recognizable style – even if that style is – no style!

Did your last photographer tick all those boxes? If your a photographer, do you tick all the boxes?  Are there more boxes that need to be added to the list? What do you expect when you prepare for a photography session?

Leave your responses in the comments below, I'd be interested to hear what you think.



Melissa Flanagan(non-registered)
I would summarise this by saying you need to do 3 things more than any other, you have got to (a) LOVE - honestly live and breathe and LOVE what you are doing (b) you have got to be passionate, I can honestly say EVERY SINGLE wedding I do, I come away excited and busting - literally BUSTING to get home, download, and share with my clients as soon as I possibly can, sometimes within hours of being home! I don't do anything by halves. I've been know to on more than one occasion to use my iphone to photograph the back of my camera, to share with others BEFORE I get out of the carpark to head home! (c) share knowledge teach and what you put out there, I believe it will come back.... and NEVER stop learning, the day you think you know it all - pack it up and go home, every single shoot, every family, every baby, every home, every church every single garden - will teach you something new, if you keep your mind open to it. and don't be caught up in what is comfortable... push the limits, photograph things with a pulse... so if you are a landy.... try a baby on for size.... and then maybe a family... and then try on a wedding - ok maybe not those lengths.... lol... just keep learning + share the love!
I find that preparing for the storm that is due might mean studying the weather radar a couple of hours beforehand, up to the actual event. Standing on a hill-top as the sun goes down is not for the impatient, and certainly not for the photographer who can't share with others. Many people may be at the same spot for the same sunset. Every single one of them won't see what you see, so stop worrying that they are standing close to you, watching what you do. Many amateurs like me learn from others who have been doing the same thing for years.

Am I good? Do I have a creative eye? I don't know. I love to take photos of the approaching storms, I love sunsets and rainbows and I like to think that my audience stands beside me, so the image I capture is what they would see in real life if they were with me. Others can judge my work, I take photographs for the sheer joy of being able to capture a moment in time that will never be available again.
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