Exposed! :: Wise words from working photographers ::

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My early years in the photography business were bumpy. Luckily, I met some good people who helped shape the foundations of my work. I soaked up many scraps of information. In this edition of Exposed! we revisit valuable advice that helped guide me to success.

My photography skills are self taught. My business skills are a mix of a broad university education, family advice and experiential learning ... erm... learning from mistakes. In the process I heard these wise words from other fine photographers:

"It's always perfect weather to shoot something."

Often I hear excuses about the weather that foil people's plans to shoot. It may be:

Perfect weather for shooting!

Taking advantage of shade in harsh light.

Landscape photographer J. David Andrews once told me "It's always perfect weather to shoot something." It's true. Perhaps the beautiful evening light you hoped for got trampled by rain. Make lemonade out of lemons. Finding a way to take advantage of the weather will keep you creating when others head home.

At right, Marco and I went to shoot some climbing. I had visions of "perfect weather." By the time we climbed to the shooting location the light was harsh and in the wrong place. But it was a perfect time to shoot a silhouette!

"F8 and be there"

If you are not where the action is you cannot take the picture. It's that simple. Don't sweat details - make sure you get out with your camera equipment and be ready for anything!

I first heard this tidbit of truth from Pat Morrow, photographer, outdoor adventurer, and videographer. Pat and his wife, Baiba, have followed this mantra - taking equipment to Everest, the arctic and Tibet. There are many reasons for his success but getting out there was a very good start.

You have camera equipment - make sure you use it! Do not worry about your equipment, technical details or getting to Everest! Make sure you book photo time in your schedule. Take photos wherever you are and enjoy your fun.

"Get it right in the camera."

I sometimes hear "I'll just fix it in photoshop." Photoshop is a fantastic tool - indispensable in a photo workflow. But it is regularly used as a crutch. Spending the effort to get it right in the camera will save numbing work in front of the computer.

Many years ago, Anthony Scullion hired me as a photo assistant as I was learning the ropes of the working photography world. I learned much from him. He always said "Harry, make sure you get it right in the camera."

This simple nugget is burned into my brain. Always try to:

Get it right in the camera!

Get it right in the camera.

Improving technical photo skills (exposure, focus...) and keeping compositions clean will result in more time capturing and less time post processing - especially when you have four or five variations of the same photo to deal with.

A mistake would be bad news in the middle of a multi day trek through the Rockies - at left. Getting it right is important!

"Surround yourself with supportive people."

There are a million reasons not to pursue a challenge or dream. There are many people who will kindly remind you of the obstacles in your way. While important to keep a realistic view of your path, dreams will never be realized if you only see the difficulties.

As I started my photo career David Trattles kept saying "Surround yourself with supportive people." He was right!

Finding people who are excited about the possibilities of your project is a valuable process that will keep you smiling while you pursue a dream. Positive people can make a great difference when you need a little boost.


Print out the four quotes listed above and stick them in prominent places to remind you of the ideas behind the quotes. Add your own quotes as they come to you. Keep them alive in your photo life.

Also visit our blog to submit your own favourites in our photoquotes challenge!

Pro Perspective

I have come a long way since I gingerly dipped my toe into the world of working photography. I quickly learned that others provide ideas and inspiration. My early days were rough. Many people helped smooth the way.

Final Frame

We are all interconnected. Together we can achieve things that would be impossible alone. Enjoy your photography and remember to keep your ears open!

Take photos. Have fun!