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  • Writer's picture Tony Brown Photography

The Essential Skills Needed to Be a Photographer

The important qualities needed by photographers, and the skills you'll need to succeed.

Being a good photographer is more than just mastering your camera or owning the best camera gear. It’s often instead more about the inherent qualities that allow a photographer to see beauty in the most unexpected places, and capture that wonder in a photograph.

So, what makes a good photographer? It depends on what photography niche you’re in, as every niche demands different desirable qualities. Pet photographers, for example, need to know how to properly interact and connect with animals; sports photographers need to be quick, strong, and agile to get the best shots; and so on.

But, of course, some of these qualities do overlap.

1. Creativity and Imagination

Photography, for all intents and purposes, is a form of art. Therefore, it requires a creativity, and plenty of imagination. A good photographer must be able to look at something very ordinary, or even extraordinary, and find so many different ways to interpret what they're seeing, and convey those interpretations in beautiful and meaningful imagery.

As you may have already heard, composition is everything in photography. Even if you aren’t concerned about the artistic side of your craft, composition is still key in producing good photography. Sure, some basic composition rules can guide you, but at the end of the day, creativity and imagination are the best guides for stellar compositions.

2. An Eye for Detail

A good photographer must have a keen eye for detail to ensure that all elements within the photo, the lighting, composition, the subject, and everything else in between work together harmoniously.

Key elements that make up a good photograph:

- Lighting

- Composition

- Story

- Emotion

Even the tiniest detail can make or break a photograph. So having an eye for detail, and being meticulous when scrutinizing every single element to ensure cohesiveness, is critical in producing the perfect photograph.

3. Patience and Flexibility

No matter how much you try to control every single variable, things won’t always go your way. There will be days when the lighting won’t cooperate, when your model or client will be exceptionally difficult, or when your camera just won’t give you the desired results. And of course, there will be times when you’ll have to take thousands of photos just to get that one perfect photo.

Whichever photography field you may be entering, patience (lots of it) is always an essential quality to have. You need to be patient enough to wait for the perfect light. You need to be patient enough to deal with nature, equipment and difficult clients. And most of all, you need to be patient enough to keep trying when you just can’t get the right shot.

In addition to patience, you also need to be flexible. And in fact the two qualities go hand in hand. You need to be patient enough to deal with whatever comes your way, and you need to be flexible enough to make the best of undesirable situations.

4. Good People Skills

Being a commercial photographer in London means working with people, whether it’s a client, a model, or even a fellow photographer. Thus, being a good photographer requires good people skills. It is one of the essential photographer qualities. You’ll also need to network to obtain clients and partnerships, so knowing how to connect and communicate effectively with others is imperative.

When you’re photographing people, knowing how to take a good photo simply isn’t enough. You also have to know how to interact with your subjects to make them feel at ease, get them to cooperate, or draw out the very best in them.

5. Passion

What sets a good photographer apart from the rest? Passion, and commitment.

When you’re passionate about what you do, it will always shine through in your work. It takes a lot of time and effort to make it as a professional photographer, and the ones who succeed and manage to make a name for themselves are those who are truly passionate about their craft.

Passion makes the photographer, and it will always make you work a little harder, push you a little farther, and make you strive to be better than you were the day before.


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