Digital Camera World has interviewed some of the best and most famous photographers in its time. Martin Parr, Rankin, David Doubilet, Jill Furmanovsky, Bryan Adams (yes, that Bryan Adams)… it’s an impressive roster of talented lensmen and lenswomen.
Here, we gather together some insightful words of advice from more than 50 of our interviews. Pro photographers from a wide range of disciplines offer their top tips for better photographs and provide insight into the best practices that helped make them famous. Photographers of all tastes and abilities will be inspired to shoot better portraits, landscapes, travel and wildlife shots, and more…
Famous Photographers: 225 tips to inspire you
Portrait Photographer (and rock legend)
Bryan Adams was born in Canada in 1959 and quit school for music at the age of 15. Before becoming one of the world’s most famous photographers, Adams was one of the most successful singer/songwriters of the ’80s and ’90s, with a string of hit albums, singles and soundtracks. Since 2000, Adams has risen in prominence as a photographer, specialising in fashion shoots and portraits.
24. I remember one of the assistants at Herb Ritts’ studio said to me, always shoot another roll, even if you think you have it.
25. Always make people feel like it’s their photo, not yours. There’s nothing worse than a pushy photographer.
26. If you can see something odd in camera, then adjust it at the time you’re taking the shot. In my view it’s better than relying on using Photoshop later.
Matt was born in Harrow, north-west London, and had a keen interest in skateboarding as a teenager. He assisted the photographer Marcus Lyon for three years before starting out on his own. He combines his obsession with street photography with commercial work for clients including Sony, Fuji and Sainsbury’s.
27. Have a camera with you at all times. You never know when something is going to happen.
28. Wear suitable shoes. If you’re walking around for a long time, you need something comfortable.
29. Keep your elbows in. If you put your elbows out like a chicken when you lift the camera to your face, it makes people very aware of you.
30. Be patient and optimistic. Give things as much time as you can and never lose hope that a great picture is just around the corner.
31. Don’t forget to smile at people when you’re photographing them. It makes you less threatening.
Born in 1971, Dan Chung is one of the most respected photographers in Fleet Street, and winner of Photographer of the Year at the 2004 Picture Editors’ Awards. Chung began as a trainee on the Derby Evening Telegraph before landing staff jobs at the Reuters news agency and more recently, The Guardian. A keen exponent of digital photography, Chung went digital back in 1997. He is now focusing on the video potential of the latest HD DSLRs.
32. Respect your subject and try to be sensitive to their wishes.
33. Know the law where you’re shooting, and how it will affect you taking photos (for more, see Photographers Rights: the ultimate guide).
34. Take note: it’s very hard to make a good living out of serious news photography. Be persistent and be prepared to be quite broke too!
Born in New York City in 1947, Doubilet is one of National Geographic’s best-loved and most famous photographers. After graduating from Boston University in 1970, he began working for National Geographic in the following year. Doubilet has authored and photographed over 65 books, including Fish Face (2003) and Water Light Time (1999). His numerous awards include The Sara Prize and the Lennart Nilsson Award in Photography.
35. Underwater photographers need to get comfortable with water before they try to photograph it intimately.
36. Learn about light – study great images and see how they were made.
37. Go to a museum and learn about pictures – who made them, and which ones you like and why.
38. Lay on the bottom of a pool and watch the light. Learn how to use strobes to manipulate light, too.
39. Try everything – we’re no longer constrained by 36 exposures.
Rhodesian-born Jill Furmanovsky emigrated to London with her family in the swinging sixties. She became house photographer at the Rainbow Theatre when she was 18. She made her name during the punk era, and became a contributor to Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Sniffin’ Glue. Furmanovsky became the official Oasis photographer in the mid-90s, and produced the Was There Then collection and exhibition.
40. Be prepared. I saw The Who and missed Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend hugging as my lens had slipped from Auto to Manual focus.
41. Don’t forget other settings too. Is your card formatted? Have you got the right image size? I once shot Oasis at Glastonbury in the smallest JPEG format!
42. Always check your position – it’s not directly under the singer. Try stage left or stage right. It’s the same when shooting in the studio. Stand on a chair, lie on the floor – don’t get anchored to the spot.
Born in Norwich, Fraser studied fine art and then worked as a photography assistant in London for four years. Keen for a change, he relocated to LA in 1997 and made his name by shooting interesting characters on Venice Beach. Now a sought-after portrait photographer, Fraser works for a roster of top-flight magazines and advertising clients.
43. Help your subject by finding out a little about them and having some conversation starters. Or bring along a prop – they might grab it and make a great shot!
44. Be prepared and know your gear. Also, time permitting, don’t be afraid to try a new lighting set-up during the shoot.
45. Keep the set-up simple and start with one light. If that looks good, shoot it.
46. Don’t be afraid to go in tight with a wide-angle lens.
47. Try shooting with a tripod – it’s easier to talk to your subject when you’re not holding a camera.
Joe & Mary Ann McDonald
Joe and Mary Ann McDonald’s work has been published in a host of leading magazines, including Audubon, National Wildlife and Natural History and Smithsonian. Joe is the principal photographer in the team and author of seven books, including The Complete Guide to Wildlife Photography and Photographing on Safari. Mary Ann has written numerous children’s books on natural history subjects. The McDonalds run seminars and workshops across the US.
48. Make time to develop your skills – try to get a job that still gives you time for your photography and doesn’t stress you out! With faith and self-belief you can achieve your goals.
49. While it helps to have the cash to travel to great locations, you must be dedicated and work hard.
50. Know the craft of photography like a professional.
51. Find your niche, whether it’s a specific location, specific species or certain style.
52. Know your subjects well. The best wildlife photographers are also the best naturalists.
53. Be business-like – marketing is the other half of the story. Or hire someone to do the hustling!
Formula One Photographer
Steven Tee is a world-renowned motorsports photography and director of the LAT (London Art Technical) photo agency. His father was also an F1 photographer; his grandfather pioneered motorsports publishing in the UK. Tee and his LAT agency cover WRC, F3000, BTCC, IRL, Champ Car and NASCAR events. Tee is a die-hard Canon fan and LAT agency went 100% digital after the release of the EOS 1Ds Mk2.
54. Know your kit – you don’t want to be sitting there trying to figure out how your camera works just as the drivers roar past.
55. Know your capabilities.
56. Choose subjects you’re passionate about. I decided I wanted to shoot motorsports when I was a teenager.
57. Don’t be afraid to experiment in order to stand out from the crowd. Your work has to stand out.
58. Try to look at each shoot from a lateral perspective.
PAGE 1: Martin Parr through Bob Martin
PAGE 2: Bryan Adams through Steven Tee
PAGE 3: David Noton through Brutus Ostling
PAGE 4: Clive Nichols through Steve Bloom
PAGE 5: Jonas Bendiksen through Pablo Bartholomew
PAGE 6: Joel Sartore through Emma Delves-Broughton
PAGE 7: Alex Majoli through Peter Turner
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