What’s Your Best Motivational Advice For Emerging Photographers? Photoville 2019 Weighs In.

What’s Your Best Motivational Advice For Emerging Photographers? Photoville 2019 Weighs In.

Earlier this year we launched our latest guide, The Photographer’s Guide to Branding and Marketing in a Distracted World. In it, we outlined tons of branding and marketing tips, as well as asked our members to share career advice for emerging photographers. The responses we received ranged from honoring marginalized communities to tried-and-true advice like “wear good shoes.” But we knew we’d only just scratched the surface, so we decided to keep the momentum going while exhibiting at Photoville this year. 

In the spirit of Photoville’s celebration of up and coming visual storytellers (and in addition to showcasing amazing photography from sixteen PhotoShelter members), we encouraged everyone to answer one question: What’s your best motivational advice for emerging photographers? Notecards and markers were provided in the back of our container and the responses from Photoville attendees, volunteers and fellow photographers were overwhelming. Coined “PS you got this”  (#PSyougotthis on social media), we’re keeping the knowledge sharing going and have some highlights below for all of you. Think of it as free mentorship. 

Vision Slightly Blurred co-host Sarah Jacobs contributes her advice to the advice wall at container 10 / #PSyougotthis. Photo by Andrew Fingerman.

A photo can fundamentally change how we see the world. 

  • Document the solutions. 
  • Keep focusing on controversial matters. The world needs to see the truth. 
  • Stop shooting what’s expected. Start shooting what matters. 
  • Use your camera as a key to open the door of other people’s lives. Create empathy!  
  • How can we help others see the world? 
  • Do it for a purpose!
  • Seek truths to share. 
  • Encourage, empower and inspire. Be the voice that people can look to. 
Make sure your image touches the fibers of those who see it.

Just do it. Get out of your own way. 

  • Don’t let anyone else’s work cause you to doubt your own. 
  • Get out and start shooting, no matter what camera you have. 
  • Stop overthinking it. Just do. 
  • Never be afraid to capture your shot. 
  • Commit and don’t quit. Create now before it’s too late. 
  • Keep shooting even when you feel blocked. 
  • Always do what you’re afraid to do. 
Shoot from the gut.

Honor your truth. 

  • Even the simplest or most random subject is beautiful to someone. Always trust your gut – your talent and artistry will do the rest. 
  • Be honest with yourself through your work. 
  • Sometimes a shot doesn’t need to be technical. Shots are heartfelt and passion-based. 
  • Trust your vision. 
  • Many people might share what you see and what you feel, but they don’t have the talent to capture that the way you can. By doing it, you are creating collective memory and history. 
  • Shoot what you’re most passionate about. Your enthusiasm will shine through. 
  • Always make time for your passion projects, even if you have to do other work to pay the bills. 
  • Focus less on what is aesthetically pleasing and frame whatever your truth is. 
Follow your passion. Always make time to create for yourself so you never lose sight of why you got into photography in the first place.

Don’t just shoot. Think. 

  • Perfect the shot before you take it… not after! 
  • See beyond the photo.
Patience is a virtue. If you wait, you will get the shot.

Rejection sucks, but it’s inevitable.

  • Don’t feel discouraged if other people aren’t fans of your work. Shoot what you want to shoot! 
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. 
  • Learn from rejection. 
Shoot. Fail. Repeat. Rejection isn't the end of the world.

Bring extras. Remember the necessities.

  • Keep your camera with you at all times. Photo ops come when you least expect it. 
  • Never let your lens get dirty. 
  • Carry extra memory cards! (Also don’t forget them.) 
  • Carry extra film. 
  • Never forget your camera at home, work, etc. Always shoot even if you’re tired or sick.
You will ever get the sho tif you don't always have a camera.

Engage and be respectful.

  • Don’t think you’re more important than what you shoot. 
  • Protect the subject. 
  • Engage with your subject. Even if you’re shooting strangers! They will give you so much more. 
  • Getting subjects willing to knowingly be in your shot is a numbers game – approach lots of people. More are willing and open than you’d think. 
  • Don’t hide behind the lens. 
Ethics!! Do your research. Enter spaces respectfully.

Something is better than nothing.

  • Don’t limit yourself. Try different mediums and styles of photography until you find your niche. 
  • Angles, baby! 
  • Don’t forget to look behind you. 
  • It is not about the equipment. 
  • Shoot, edit, repeat. 
  • Shoot from the hip. 
  • Take at least one photo every day.
Try not to obsess about gear! Work with what you have a never stop shooting.

Know your basics. You’ve got a job to do.

  • Check your bottoms. Be aware of how you may be cutting things off at the bottom of your frame. 
  • Always spend time reviewing your work. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. 
  • Get low and go wide. 
  • Marketing is important. Think about who exactly you’re targeting and what need you’re filling for that group of people. Your photography doesn’t need to appeal to everybody! 
  • Stop with the overediting. Let people see shit the same way you did. 
  • Don’t get sucked into photo trends. Good technical skills and being easygoing will get you much further. Stay focused. 
  • Learn to shoot, develop and print film. 
  • Your art is a business! Know when it’s time to wear your creator hat and when it’s time to wear your CEO hat. 
  • Let people pose. 
  • Specialize! Strive to become the best at something that aligns with your passion and you’ll be unstoppable. 
  • Photoshop as little as possible. 
  • Look at paintings, not Instagram. 
Don't undercharge for your work; you may jeopardize being paid properly for future gigs.

Feel like something is missing? Have advice you’d like to share? Photoville may be over, but the inspiration doesn’t end here. Comment below or post your best motivational advice across social media with #PSyougotthis.

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This article was written by

Caitlyn Edwards is the Senior Customer Marketing Manager at PhotoShelter. Passionate about visual storytelling and ethics, she covers photo news, events and offers educational tips.

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Niobe at 2:12 am

    Womderful! After being in photography for so long and seeing trends move away from the fundamental basics, it was refreshing to see comments suggest these basics again as they will always be there. It all comes down to passion! Old photographers need inspiration too 😀

  2. Randy Harmon at 2:55 pm

    Time to realize …NOT JUST FOR EMERGING PHOTOGS!!!!!
    Tired of seeing everything being 30 under 30 or emerging photographers….so many of us 20-30year + veterans that are not getting recognition for still being in the game! I agree with all the motivational advice but why is title posted for “emerging”….such a misnomer!

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