I’m not a seasoned photographer by anybodies standards, but I’ve managed to gather up a few thought “nuggets” on the subject of photography. I probably have more, but I set my limit to 10. So here are my ten commandments of photography, in no particular order.

  1. ALWAYS Know Your Equipment – Know how to use your equipment, know what all the settings and options do, and know how they affect your photography. Be comfortable with your camera.
  2. NEVER Try Too Hard – Have fun and learn as you go. The hard stuff will start to come naturally; you’ll just get frustrated if you try forcing it.
  3. ALWAYS Break The Rules – Maybe not always, but don’t be afraid to do it. Know the rules of photography well enough to know how to properly break them.
  4. ALWAYS Rediscover Yourself – Don’t forget about your past photos. Go back through them, look at them in new ways, and make something of them.
  5. ALWAYS Try New Things – Don’t hesitate to alter compositions while shooting, use your equipment in a non-traditional way, explore the camera settings while shooting, and try new post processing techniques.
  6. ALWAYS Mimic Those Who Inspire You – If you like an artist or a photo, figure out why. Apply that to your own work and mix it with other styles you’ve picked up.
  7. NEVER Forget Your Roots – What got you into photography? If you’re ever lacking inspiration, go back to your roots. For me, it’s my kids.
  8. ALWAYS Do It For Yourself – Don’t take pictures that you think other people will like. If you like them, that’s all that counts.
  9. ALWAYS Get Your Priorities Straight – Your camera gear is expensive. Your pictures are worth more than money. But your knowledge of photography is invaluable.
  10. NEVER Stop Learning – I try to apply this philosophy to life in general. You’ll never cease to be amazed at the things you can learn. And my favorite saying “The more you learn, the less you know” is so dang true.

What commandments do you photograph by?

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Good tips, but no.8 won’t work if you’re shooting for a client.

April 24, 2007 2:00 am

“Slush Fund”
Especially if you are married! :)

April 24, 2007 8:00 am

Fabian – That’s true. I haven’t had any clients yet, so for me #8 still holds true. I guess that one was more aimed at the hobby/passion side of photography. I’m sure if I was a big bad pro I’d have a different set of commandments to shoot by.

Mike – You’re so right. There’s nothing harder than trying to justify expensive equipment that you don’t absolutely NEED.

April 24, 2007 8:48 am

Good read… I just have three simple rules when it comes to photography.

1) Have fun — you mentioned this, but photography is my escape from the day-to-day. I use it a time to reflect as much as time to create.

2) Find something unique — There’s lots of people with lots of cameras… Try and find something unique that others wont see.

3) Include a subject — I just learned this recently. Giving the viewer something to focus on helps add perspective. Sure this is obvious to most.

April 24, 2007 11:19 am

I like your number 2, Michael. More and more people are toting cameras these days. I think being unique is what distinguishes a good photo from a great photo.

Something I like to do is search for interesting shots in not-so-interesting surroundings, even your everyday surroundings. There’s always something worth taking a picture of, you just have to look and get creative.

April 24, 2007 11:33 am

I have to agree with you two. I really realized that in the last few days, when I was doing Macros of the flowers in our garden and showed them to my mom (who is in charge of the garden) and she asked me where I took those pictures because she didn’t connect the small blossoms in our garden (some smaller than the nail on the pinky finger) with the close range photos of blossoms I took.

April 24, 2007 4:10 pm

It really is amazing how our perspectives can change by just placing a camera and lens between our eyes and the rest of the world.

April 24, 2007 5:14 pm

Definitely. It always seems to me like I pay attention to more details when I’m out shooting pictures. But it is also becomes a habit to pay attention to small details. But with flowers and Macro there are some details that you really only see when you have the magnification of your camera.

April 24, 2007 5:17 pm

Short and sweet. Nicely put together. The only thing I would have added “ALWAYS have fun”, but perhaps that is #11.

April 25, 2007 11:22 am

Thanks Jim — and you’re right about always having fun. I mentioned it a bit in #2, but the fun factor should always be present. Otherwise, what’s the point?

April 25, 2007 12:00 pm

These are pretty useful rules :)

Some of them I wouldn’t fully classify as ‘ALWAYS’ or ‘NEVER’ though. There’s exceptions for everything.

April 25, 2007 4:25 pm

So true Andrew, there are ALWAYS exceptions. Plus you should break the rules, right?

April 25, 2007 5:17 pm

Hello Brian,

That was a very neatly compiled list. Every line is absolutely true! I was so surprised that you had put down exactly the same “commandments” that I believe in. :-)

April 30, 2007 7:51 am

Thanks Thalia, I was trying to capture more of the “big picture” items that drive me as a photographer.

April 30, 2007 8:01 am

I had a bit of chuckle about #1.

Right on I thought in that when I came back from my personal photo expedition to Arizona and Utah I discovered that for most of my shots I have shot them at ISO 1600 because I forgot to change it after trying to photograph a faint sunset. The only good thing is that Noise Ninja or Neat Image saved me from total folly.

The next time after trying something fancy with the settings I will immediately go back to my default mode.

May 20, 2007 7:14 am

I do that sometimes with the ISO too. Usually not 1600, but I’ve left it at 400 or 800 a couple of times. Setting things back to normal is a hard habit to get into sometimes. I also usually forget to switch the anti-shake when I go between handheld and tripod. That’s not as bad as an ISO 1600, but it’s still annoying.

May 20, 2007 7:29 am

2 rules I subscribe too in additon to the excellent one above.

When possible Always carry a camera. I have a NIkon D200, a Lumix FX03 and a cameraphone that I use so I can subscribe to this rule.

The second is if you break a rule don’t do it by a little bit e.g. with the rule of thirds don’t do it 5% away from the ideal do it 55%

October 16, 2007 6:58 pm

Hahaha, I like your second rule! Why bother if you’re not serious, right?

October 16, 2007 11:14 pm

Ack, you totally beat me to it. Interesting that our commandments are mostly different, though. =)

June 10, 2008 1:10 am

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