99 things I still have to learn about photography

I came across this blog post which I find very informative and which I’d like to share with you all. It’s called “100 Things I’ve Learned About Photography” by Martin Gommel.

I agree with almost everything he says, except for no. 35. Also, I am not exactly sure what is meant by the “golden ratio” he mentions in item no. 28. (Update: I’ve been enlightened! Read the comments portion at the bottom of this post.) Read on!

100 Things I’ve Learned About Photography

Since I found photography two and a half years ago I have learned different things which I would like to share with you today. These lessons have made me richer and I hope that you will find them refreshing and inspiring on your journey with the camera, too.

1. Never do photography to become a rock-star.
2. Enjoy what you are shooting.
3. Prepare well for your shooting, realizing that your battery isn’t charged when you’re setting up for that sunrise shoot is too late!
4. Always take one warm garment more than you actually need with you.
5. Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions while you are shooting.
6. Set goals you can achieve.
7. Write tips about photography, because writing is also learning.
8. Never go shooting without a tripod.
9. Be pleased with the little prosperities.
10. Build relationships with potential photo buddies.


11. Watch the place you want to shoot first with your heart then with the camera.
12. Always stay calm.
13. Know that you tend to overestimate yourself.
14. Perspective is the killer.
15. Dedicate yourself to photography, but never browbeat yourself too much.
16. Take part in a photography community.
17. Keep your camera clean.
18. Never compare yourself to others in a better or worse context.
19. Find your own style of photography.
20. Try to compose more and to hit the shutter less.
21. Seek out and learn to accept critique on your images.
22. Do something different to recover creativity.
23. Get inspiration from the work of other photographers.
24. Criticize honestly but respectfully.
25. Get feedback from your lady.
26. Don’t copy other photographer’s style.
27. Be bold.
28. Take care of the golden ratio.
29. 10mm rocks!
30. Take self-portraits.
31. Read books about photography.
32. To give a landscape photograph the extra boost, integrate a person (maybe yourself).
33. Every shooting situation is different than you expect.
34. Pay attention to s-curves and lines.
35. Always shoot in RAW.
36. Keep your sensor clean, so you can save some work cleaning your image in post production.
37. Discover the things you think are beautiful.
38. It takes time to become a good photographer.
39. The best equipment is that what you have now.
40. You can’t take photographs of everything.
41. Break the rules of photography knowingly, but not your camera. 😉
42. Pay attention to the different way that light falls on different parts of your scene.
43. The eye moves to the point of contrast.
44. Clouds increase the atmosphere of a landscape.
45. Start a photoblog.
46. Accept praise and say “thank you.”
47. ‘Nice Shot’ is not a very useful comment to write.
48. ‘Amazing!’ isn’t useful either. Try to describe specifically what you like or don’t like about an image.
49. You are not your camera.
50. Ask a question at the end of your comment on a photo to get a ping-pong conversation with the photographer.
51. Do a review of your archives on a regular basis, the longer you photograph – the more diamonds are hidden there.
52. Always clarify what the eyecatcher (focal point) will be in your image.
53. No image is better than a bad one.
54. Everyone has to start little.
55. Your opinion about photography is important!
56. Leave a funny but thoughtful comment.
57. Speak about your experiences with your photo buddies.
58. Limit your photograph to the substance.
59. Participate in photo contests.
60. Post processing = Optimizing your image to the best result.
61. Shoot exposure latitudes as often as possible.
62. Use photomatix as seldom as possible, HDR’s always have a synthetic flavor.
63. Always remember what brought you to photography.
64. Never shoot a person who doesn’t want to be photographed.
65. Always turn around, sometimes the better image is behind you.
66. It’s who’s behind the camera, not the camera.
67. Mistakes are allowed! The more mistakes you make, the more you learn!
68. If you have an idea and immediately you think : No, this is not going to work – Do it anyway. When in doubt – always shoot.
69. Understand and look to your histogram while shooting. It delivers very important information about your image.
70. Know your camera, because searching the menu button in the night is time you don’t want to waste.
71. Shoot as often as possible.
72. Believe in yourself.
73. Don’t be afraid of getting dirty.
74. Pay attention to quality in your image.
75. Your photographs are a personal map of your psyche.
76. Re-check your ISO-Settings. It’s awful to detect the wrong settings on your screen.
77. Be thankful for long and thoughtful comments on your images.
78. Never trust your LCD. Normally it is brighter and sharper as the original image.
79. Provide for enough disc space, because it’s cheap and you will need it.
80. Learn to enjoy beautiful moments when you don’t have a camera with you.
81. Always arrive at least half an hour earlier before sunrise/sundown, composing in a hurry is a bad thing.
82. Try to amplify your mental and physical limits. Takes some extra shots when you think “it’s enough.”
83. Pay attention to structures in the sky and wait until they fit into structures in the foreground.
84. Visit the same place as often as possible. Light never shows the same mountain.
85. Print your images in big size. You will love it.
86. Calibrate your monitor. Working with a monitor that is not accurate is like being together with someone you can’t trust. It always ends badly.
87. Don’t think about what others may say about your image. If you like it, it’s worth publishing.
88. Never address reproaches to yourself. Learn from your mistakes and look forward, not backward.
89. Fight your laziness! Creativity comes after discipline.
90. Ask yourself : What do you want to express in your images?
91. Always try to think outside the box, collect new ideas about photographs you could do and ask yourself: Why not?
92. Search for a mentor.
93. Photography is never a waste of time.
94. Every community has its downsides. Don’t leave it out of an emotional response.
95. There will always be people who will not like what you are doing.
96. Henri Cartier-Bresson was right when he said that, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
97. A better camera doesn’t guarantee better images.
98. Always have printing in mind when you postprocess your images.
99. Photography is fair: You gain publicity with the quality of your images. Unless the images are stolen, there is no way of cheating yourself higher.
100. Write a 100 things list.

~ by gerryruiz on 7 January 2008.

5 Responses to “99 things I still have to learn about photography”

  1. i THINK (i’m not sure on this, just my own idea) the golden ratio stuff is the ratio between the fibonacci number series and that ratio makes the RULE OF THIRDS concept… i’m still new with photography, around 6 months old… just got my own camera… i’m really not sure about this… and the thing about the #35 item is so wrong in my own belief because it makes you computer dependent… it really takes the photography essence away… by just editing the technical mistakes you’ve done when you hit the shutter button… i really do prefer jpgs so that i can master the technical stuff and won’t need to post-process it so that i can have a nice output… by the way i do recommend the 50mm f/1.8 MkII it is less than P5k it is a good lens takes good shots but i think it is not durable but still the lens rocks… and your shots are awesome! i found this site through your daughter miki…

  2. Thank you, Golds, for the clue on the Golden Ratio stuff! Now that you gave me a lead, I had to do my own little research on the matter and here’s what I got (from Wikipedia):

    “In the Arts, many artists and architects have proportioned their works to approximate the golden ratio in the
    form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio — believing this proportion to be aesthetically pleasing. Mathematicians have studied the golden ratio because of its unique and interesting properties.” Read more…

    “Fibonacci (1170–1250) mentioned the numerical series now named after him in his Liber Abaci; the Fibonacci sequence is closely related to the golden ratio.” Read more…

    Thus, Martin Gommel’s item no. 28 in his list refers to photo composition, more specifically on the cropping dimensions of one’s photo following the golden rectangle model. It could also be related to the Rule of Thirds in subject composition.

    Nowadays, however, “No Rules” can be applied, e.g., square cropping and positioning of photo subject way off the Rule of Thirds. 🙂

    Re 50mm prime lens, yes, I’ve heard so much positive feedback about it it could just be my next lens! 😉 Thanks again!

  3. I agree!Thanks for the tips.

  4. Golden Ratio is the rule of thirds (http://www.digital-photography-tips.net/digital-photography-tutor-thirds.html). That’s a common photography technique. I’ll show you how it’s built into my present camera. RAW is a photo saving format that’s manipulated in photoshop. JPEG has limited enhancement compared to RAW.

  5. On #35, I think the reason why he suggested to shoot in RAW is that shooting in that format gives you a certain degree of flexibility. It’s like having a film negative. Also, most magazine publishers generally prefer works submitted to them in RAW format.

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