I recently contacted photographer Nick Sumner who specialises in wedding photographs, portrait photographs, travel photographs and event photographs. This email which he sent has helped me a great deal. I hope that by blogging this, it will help you too;
“I don’t know if my advice is worth anything but here goes.
Photography is a competitive field, so be warned, you won’t be allowed too many slip ups. Serve your clients not the picture – this is crucial to professionalism. A superb picture is useless if it isn’t what the client wants.
Learn to filter criticism. Criticism is good, it helps you hone your skills but some criticism is negative and worthless, learn to identify criticism that is helpful to you and to reject criticism that isn’t.
Be wary of unreasonable expectations from clients, be honest but don’t lose work through being too honest unless it’s a job you aren’t confident about completing. Don’t misrepresent your skills or abilities, if you don’t know how to achieve a certain look or style a client wants be wary of trying to wing it.
I have no formal photographic education, I learned by doing. This is not to say that formal study of photography wouldn’t be of tremendous help to you but often the best learned lessons are the ones we teach ourselves. Get hold of the best equipment you can and shoot and shoot and shoot. Try and analyse your results as dispassionately as you can, decide why you like or dislike pictures and think about why a picture works or why it doesn’t work. Study the work of your favourite photographers and try and see your photographic subjects in terms of the contrast range of your film. Learn with film not digital it is less forgiving of errors and will really sharpen your skills. (I miss film!)
A thorough mastery of technical detail is important, but what will set you apart as a photographer is your own vision. Set yourself tasks to accomplish, don’t let your work schedule be driven solely by your customers. It’s important to reinforce your own photographic style and vision.
If you work in the fashion industry be aware that it is peopled by those with egos that are both mammoth and also very fragile. You will come across a lot of mysogony, rise above it and remember three things; Speak truth to power but be tactful, stand your ground when you know you are right and never take anything too seriously”. – Nick Sumner