Encouragement for the Beginning Photographer

Okay, let me just start out by saying, we are all learning together! I don’t know it all. I don’t have everything figured out. You have something to teach me, and I have something to teach you. Don’t be too hard on yourself and compare other's journeys to your own. That will not help YOU move forward! We all have our own path and story, so don’t be bummed if yours isn’t looking exactly like mine. That’s the beauty of it all!

Anyhow, if you're reading this, you might be a someone you wants to take their passionate hobby to the next level. You might be frustrated because you have a lot of ideas but can’t execute them the way you want. Or you are just kind of interested in the whole creative world and are wondering if you're going to dive in. Okay cool, I’ve been in all those spots and can relate! I want to encourage you with some little tips as you test the waters of this new business, hobby, world you have before you. First off, GO YOU!!! Just getting to this point is something worth celebrating. Not just letting an interest or idea be a passing thought but actually putting it into action by reading this post and wanting to learn more, HECK YEAH!

Okay, first WATCH THIS STINKIN’ VIDEO!!! It changed my way of thinking! I still go back to it now and again! It’s one of the first things I tell people to watch when they are starting out! It’s short and sweet and amazing! In my opinion, all artist could benefit from the encouragement in these 2 minutes and 18 secs! Give it a watch!

You are incredible! Your ideas are awesome, you’ve got such potential, so much to offer the world. And sometimes we just have a hard time bringing those awesome ideas into reality at first. What’s on our screens and the back of our camera’s doesn’t look as good as is it does in our heads. It’s frustrating really. I know. But just like the video covers: DON’T GIVE UP! Some many amazing artists are lost and move on because they can’t get through these hard moments. They think they must just really stink or something. But that’s not true! Let your skills be tested, allow yourself room to learn! So, as you move forward here’s a few bits advice to you:

#1- Shoot constantly

How do you expect to get better something if you're not working at it all the time? I would go out and take photos in my backyard constantly when starting out. I would gather together with friends, dress them up in Goodwill dresses and force them to be my models haha! I tried food photography, surf photography and took pictures of babies. I would shoot anything that inspired me. I eventually realized my love for shooting couples and fashion and really focused in on that more. But yeah, it’s going to be a kind of a win-some-lose-some thing for a bit. I would set up shoots all the time. Some of them came out killer and made me wanted to keep going, others…not so much. But those rougher shoots wouldn’t have gotten me to where I am today. And hey, sometimes it still happens. Even now I try to learn new techniques and experience bumps. It’s like learning anything! Think of learning to ride a bike, yeah you bust your face up and scrap your knees, but if you keep at it you’ll be riding with no hands in no time!

#2- don’t be afraid to invest a little

I’ve had people message me asking what camera I recommend for them just starting out. I think it’s easy to be under the impression that if I’m not sure about this whole photography thing, I’ll get a camera that is on the cheaper end. While I understand your reasoning, don’t be afraid to invest in something a little more. I genuinely believe an artist can still create some excellent work with minimal or ‘not that great’ gear. But I think you’ll start to take yourself a little more seriously if you threw down a little cash. I promise you won’t regret getting a camera you might think is a little pricey. It’s a step out of the fear. Plus you won’t have to upgrade for a while if you get yo’self something good right off the bat. You'll also have work that is a killer quality right away. So you can dive in knowing that you've got gear that has awesome potential and you just need to work on learning how to unlock it.

#3- shoot manual

Ditch those training wheels friend! It’s time to enter the world of FULL CONTROL. Like I mentioned earlier sometimes we have an idea and can’t seem to get it just the way we want it. Shooting automatic will only keep you there. Unless you start playing with those settings you're going to continue you to get something just shy of what you're dreaming of. Your camera is going to give you what it thinks is best not what you think is best. You’re the artist, take charge. I hear too often “Manual is scary!” FACE THOSE FEARS!!! Learn how to work with the lighting and difficult situations, we all had to do it!

#4- Embrace community

95% of how I learned (and still learn) was trial and error but also just from friends. I had a few photographer friends that all taught me tons. And the cool thing was they probably didn’t even know it in the moment. It wasn't like I set up mentor sessions with them(although those seems pretty rad too!). It was just around each other, seeing each other work and asking questions. That goes for shooting and now even business skills! My friends are some of my biggest inspirations and teachers! If you currently don’t have friends in the creative community, find some. Seriously, just search ‘em up! I would just find rad people on Instagram and ask them to be my friend basically haha! Sometimes relationships can grow by doing collabs with one another, just grabbing coffee or chatting on social media. Comment on other peoples work, allow yourself to be present and known by others in your creative community and you’ll be surprised what could come from it! But actually, seek friendship! I challenge you not just to pursue people to gain but to genuinely get to know them as a person not just their art and knowledge. I know it can be scary to reach out but you got this! Don’t take it too personally if you don’t get a response. Keep on keepin’ on, on YOUR journey! Which leads to my next point.

#5- you never know until you ask!

Okay, thinking back, this was huge for me. Trust me, I don’t like asking questions…like at all. It scares me! But so much opportunity came along by me just reaching out and putting myself out there. As I saw my work grow I would reach out to models, brands, stores, MUAs etc. and just asked if they wanted to work together. I got freakin’ awesome opportunities doing that! I put my name out there, I sometimes even asked people to collab that I thought could never say yes to little old me. But sometimes you’ll be surprised who will be interested and who won’t. Don’t downplay yourself too much. Try it out and see what happens! When I did this, I had to decide not to take things too personally and not let rejection hinder my confidence to try it again, keep working at it and try again later. I remember I used to have a mini anxiety attack before sending messages like that. I would take a deep breath, hit send and hope for the best. But it turned out to be rewarding a lot of the time. And odds are most people just won’t respond if they aren’t interested so it’s not like you’ll get some big long message of rejection! So set up that styled shoot! Ask those people you think might be cool to work with as you build your portfolio. It's always worth a shot!

#6- be yourself

You don’t have to be them! Even if you don’t really understand your own style yet, don’t settle from mimicking someones else’s to fit in! You want to stand out, and you want to find what is really YOU and not just what’s popular and easy. This might be a tough road to go down, but I promise it’ll be worth it if you stick to what’s true to you. I legit had nights that I found myself crying because I couldn't figure out my editing style(not my best moment). I was tempted just to buy another photographer's presets, slap em' on and call it good. They seemed successful, so surely if I just edit like them things will work out. It never satisfied me, I knew I wanted to figure this thang out myself. That’s how people will identify you. You won’t just look like everyone else, and you’ll stand out! Don’t be afraid to stand out, to try to do things a little differently from what you see around you. SHINE! Show the world how you're different! That’s awesome! Like I said earlier, you are wonderful and have things to offer the world. Being unique is a beautiful thing! There is literally no one else like you in the whole world so embrace who YOU ARE first and foremost, embrace the edits you like even if they are different, embrace how you do shoots with your special personality and who you are as an artist!

I AM FOR YOU FRIEND! Keep going! Keep pursuing what you love! You are never alone in this! I can’t wait for you to dive into this and start creating work you are truly proud of!

xoxo, Sunny