You know that song, “I wish… that… I knew what I know now…”
As I approach 40, I’ve started reaching out to younger people, trying to impart my “wisdom” on them. But we all know that it’s no use. There are so many things in life you can only learn through experience.
Luckily, with photography, there are TONS of things I can tell you right now and you’ll never have to go through the learning I did
With that in mind (and that darned song playing in my head) here are the Top Five things I wish I had known when I was just starting in stock photography:
- Don’t use a UV Filter. The folks at the camera store love to sell you extras, like UV filters to “protect” your lens. If you bought one, take it off your lens and never use it again! They’re typically cheap glass… they reduce the quality of your lens immediately… and they can create haze and glare on your images that will make them unusable for stock. Just don’t use them. (Other filters, like polarizers and neutral density filters are fine.)
- Use a lens hood!
The lens hood is the piece of plastic that screws onto the front of your lens and sticks out. If you got one with your lens and left it in the box… go find it and start using it. If you didn’t get one, go online and search for your specific lens to find the right one. They are lens-specific. I use my lens hood every time I shoot. It protects your lens from scratches and falls, and it saves your photos from glare. Don’t worry, these don’t darken your photos or show up in your images.
- Raise your ISO. Everyone hears in the beginning that high ISO settings cause noise. So, we tend to try to use low ISO settings. But if it’s cloudy, you’re in the shade, it’s evening, or you’re shooting indoors, you need to raise up your ISO. Newer cameras show noise less and less… and a low ISO can cause blur. Noise is always better than blur, since you can fix it to a certain extent. So, raise your ISO -or- set your camera to shoot in Auto ISO, so you don’t have to think about it.
- Your background matters. Most people lift the camera to their eye… look at their main subject… and shoot. But a savvy photographer also looks at the background while they’re taking the photo. You want to make sure nothing distracting is getting in the shot. This one little thing will change your photography forever.
- Just start! I was so scared of getting rejected that it took me years to get rolling with stock. But that’s silly. Don’t make that mistake. The best thing you can do for your success with stock is to upload some photos to an agency and see what happens. You will get some photos rejected. And that’s ok! Treat it as part of the process, and get going!