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Some True Things I've Learned About Photography

Small flower in black and whiteBy Charlotte Lowrie

The longer you are behind the camera, the more you'll learn about photography and making pictures. Here are a few of the things that I've learned in my years of looking through the lens.

  • Always, and I mean always, take the scenic route.
  • A picture doesn't have to be perfect--it just has to "work." Pictures that work elicit a response from the viewer.
  • Pictures are not about me (or you). Pictures are about the subject.
  • I'd rather be shooting than cleaning up images in Photoshop.
  • Shooting weddings is hard work. Seriously hard work.
  • There is beauty in every person I photograph. Usually they don't realize it. It's my job to gently coax the beauty in them out of them.
  • There isn't enough time in life to make all the pictures that I want to make.
  • I steadfastly refuse, still, to learn about guide numbers.
  • Designing a photo may begin with rules, but it ends with intuition and instinct.
  • With portraits, listening is as important as seeing.
  • Dream in pictures.
  • Think in pictures.
  • Real people don't smile all the time.
  • I'd rather take pictures of real people.
  • Make every piece of camera gear pay for itself before the next update is announced.
  • Writing photography books is hard work.
  • Writing photography books takes a long time.
  • The best part of writing photography books is finishing them.
  • Light the background separately from the subject.
  • Resist the urge to shoot the same subject in the same way that you shot it last week, last month, or last year.
  • No risks. No breakthroughs.
  • There are times when no one likes the images I'm making.
  • There are times when everyone likes the images I'm making.
  • I keep shooting even when no one likes the images I'm making.
  • If the picture is not good, go back and reshoot.
  • Carry model and property releases and a ballpoint pen everywhere.
  • With every image, ask, "Is this the best I can do?" If the answer is no, reshoot.
  • When faced with an iconic, often-photographed subject, I make the obvious shot(s) to get it (them) out of my system. Then I can think creatively.
  • I listen to my inner voices--the ones inside my head, and the ones inside my heart.
  • Words are better with pictures.
  • Pictures are better with words.
  • When it comes to words and pictures--keep both of them clean, simple, and rich in meaning.

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About the author: Charlotte Lowrie is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of 17 photography books, numerous magazine articles, and she teaches photography classes at BetterPhoto.com.

All images and articles are copyrighted by Words and Photos and may not be reprinted without permission.
Contact: charlotte@wordsandphotos.org