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
UK-based Nichols is one of the world’s most successful flower and garden photographers. He’s won many awards for his work and in 2005 was voted ‘Garden Photographer of the Year’ by the Garden Writers Guild. Nichols’ work has appeared in many publications around the world and he’s in demand as a lecturer.
85. Try to find a really beautiful garden near to you that you can get to know really well. That way you can return when the weather and lighting conditions are at their best.
86. Learn to shoot against the light because this will give you the most atmospheric shots.
87. Look at the way that great photographers shoot flowers.Study the work of people such as Karl Blossfeldt, Ron Van Dongen, Jerry Harpur and Andrew Lawson, and try and gain some inspiration from their work.
88. Pay attention to the background, and get up early in order to get the best possible light.
Born in Italy in 1954, Olivo Barbieri is a celebrated photographer and artist who specialises in aerial shots of cities and natural features. Major projects include The Waterfall Project and Site Specific. His work is regularly exhibited at leading galleries all over the world, and has been featured at the Venice Biennale three times. Barbieri has also published several books, including Virtual Truths and Artificial Illuminations.
89. You have to persevere and take lots of images. I take about 60,000 images and save about a dozen (find out 10 things photographers can do to stop wasting pictures).
90. You have to be prepared to put the work in. There are no easy short cuts in pro photography.
91. You always need to be aware of how you can improve your work and what other people are doing. You also need a little luck to make it as a professional, too!
Hans Strand was born in Marmaverken, Sweden, in 1955. After spending nine years as a mechanical engineer he decided to follow his passion for photography in the ’80s. Strand has been published in a large number of magazines and international journals and was a winner in the Digital Camera Photographer of the Year 2008 competition.
92. For me, it’s all about thinking about the final landscape image. You have to carefully plan how you’re going to work with the light and consider the angle you’re going to approach the scene from (learn the 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography – and how to break them).
93. You have to be prepared to climb around a scene to get the best possible composition, and this can be hard work. My back hurts, my feet hurt…
94. Getting an interesting foreground is crucial but you also need to stay free and creative – otherwise your shots will all look the same and your work will lack any kind of identity. And don’t focus so much on the foreground that you forget the landscape around you!
From Bowie and the Sex Pistols to The Killers, Mick Rock has shot some of greatest names in music. Mick Rock (real name) cut his teeth photographing members of Pink Floyd while still a student at Cambridge in the late 60s. An assignment for Rolling Stone magazine led to a meeting with David Bowie in 1972. Through Bowie, Rock met Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, and ended up shooting some of the classic album sleeves of the 70s. Mick was also the first photographer to shoot the Sex Pistols, and he’s continued working in the music business to this day.
95. Follow your obsessions and take chances. I wasn’t inhibited by the thought of anyone else’s photography.
96. With digital pictures, do a lot of cropping until you have stuff you really like. This will sharpen your eye and eventually you’ll get it in the camera. People tend to look at the subject matter, grab that and forget about the dynamics of composition.
97. Pursue your muse, be it rock stars or lizards.
98. Practice over theory – I believe strongly that you should just grab a camera, get used to how it works, take lots of photographs and then go to the photography classes and read the books (check out our guide to Digital Cameras: what the manual doesn’t teach you).
99. Be bold, especially with digital, as it doesn’t cost you anything to take lots of shots.
Tim was born in Japan in 1961 and trained as a biologist. A desire to record the vanishing world led him to swap scientific research for a camera. Laman is a stalwart of National Geographic and other leading publications, and has earned a solid reputation as a fearless, intrepid wildlife photographer.
100. Do your homework – the more you know about your subject, the better you’ll be able to photograph it. And I don’t just mean reading books. Watching animals and learning to read their behaviour and anticipating what they’ll do next can make a huge difference in getting the shot of a decisive moment.
101. Put in the time – get out there and put your time in the field. The only way to guarantee that you won’t get any pictures is to be sitting at home.
102. Practice – shooting birds in flight, for example, even with autofocus, is an acquired skill. Find something to practice on, like gulls at a pier, and hone your reflexes (download our free bird photography cheat sheet).
Andrea Jones contributes to Gardens Illustrated, House and Garden, Country Living, The Saturday Telegraph, The Independent Magazine, Guardian Weekend, Times Weekend and National Geographic. Andrea has also illustrated a number of books, including Lost Gardens by Jennifer Potter (2000) and Virgin Gardener by Paul Thompson (2001). Her first solo book project was the critically acclaimed Plantworlds (2005). She runs the Garden Exposures Photo Library, which she established in 1995.
103. Get up ridiculously early to catch the best light.
104. Whenever humanly possible use a tripod – not just for stability but also to aid composition.
105. When taking plant portraits – be sure to look carefully at the subject first from all angles.
106. At the end of the day when you’re tired and you think you’ve finished shooting and the last glimmer of light pops up, just grit your teeth, unpack and shoot. Often this is when the best pictures happen!
Gordon Wiltsie has had a long and varied career – leading or photographing more than 100 expeditions to some of the wildest places on earth. His work has been featured prominently in major magazines such as National Geographic, American Photographer, and Geo. Wiltsie’s fine-art prints have also been exhibited in one-man shows in Europe, Canada and the US.
107. Thinking of becoming a professional photographer? At the beginning, find another career that gets you outdoors a lot. Unless you’re brilliant or very lucky, it’s hard to survive as a full-time pro from day one (find out How to be a Getty contributor).
108. Look at thousands of pictures of your area of speciality, and get to know your camera inside out.
109. Try to develop a personal style to make your work stand out. Chip Simons went as far as using yellow flash and fish-eye lenses, but every great pro has a unique style.
110. Don’t sell yourself short – make sure you get paid the going rate for a good shot, and don’t waste time with stock libraries.
Eric Meola is a celebrated travel and advertising photographer who’s appeared in Time, Esquire and other leading magazines. Born in 1946, he fell in love with photography when he was shown a darkroom by a patient of his doctor father. In 1975 he shot the artwork for Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and went onto work for Canon, Nikon, Porsche and BMW.
111. When shooting travel, you can’t go back to the scene and expect it to be the same. Things will change, the light or whatever. So seize the moment, stop and make the effort to get the shot. In other words, don’t procrastinate!
112. You have to fully explore your subject – walk around it, literally and figuratively. To be a creative photographer you need to shoot at different times, in different light – experiment.
113. You have to get used to walking. I get up really early and just walk and walk. It’s amazing the shots you get if you make the effort and are inquisitive.
114. Photography is a craft and you have to work at it to get better. There are no shortcuts.
A native of South Africa, but resident in the UK since 1977, Steve is a highly prolific wildlife photographer whose work is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. His books include Spirit Of The Wild and Living Africa. Along with his wife Kathy, Steve runs a major wildlife photo agency from their home in Kent.
115. Always shoot from the heart – photography’s like painting or composing music.
116. Learn from others; find your own voice. There’s a lot in photography that’s yet to be discovered.
117. Respect the animal’s territory – unless you want to be attacked or just end up with lots of shots of the animal’s rear!
118. Do your research. There’s no point going to shoot a particular type of animal behaviour if it’s the wrong season for it.
119. Take plenty of memory cards. You don’t want to run out of storage in the middle of the action.
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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