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the

“NOT ADVICE” series

stay inspired, keep learning

=from one creative to another=


Welcome + Thanks for reading! (This is more along the lines of “things I’ve learned and I want to tell you about them and maybe you can learn something from it too”.) Over the years, I realized that the blogs I enjoy most are the ones that help me learn in some way. Whether they post before and after editing tips, or insights on how to run a business or even personal posts like their favorite books or recipes, I tend to gravitate towards blogs I can “get stuff” from. I not only get to enjoy their amazing photo talent, but also get to know them on what feels like a personal level (even though obviously it isn’t if I’ve never met them before, haha. The Internet is weird like that.) ANYWAYS. I’m not claiming to know everything; in fact, I feel like I know close to nothing when it comes to how large the photography industry feels. There is just so much to learn! But I do have a few things that have helped me branch out, stay creative & get moving, so I’m going to let you in on all my “not advice”. I’m not sure who will read this. The only thing my site analytics tells me is your age and how long you stayed; it doesn’t let me in on your interests, passions & faves. So whoever you are, I hope you’re here because you enjoy having fun and making life memories. Whether that be with a camera or just in general, I hope that you find some sort of encouragement from whatever little snippets you’re about to read. Cheers!


You are you. Don’t compare. This is something I have to remind myself all the time. Every day. When you are on the Internet, looking at other photographers’ or designers’ blogs and websites, there is so much room for unhealthy comparison. This kind of comparison always sends doubt through my mind and hope out the window. You are you and I am me and that is that. The way we each take photos is unlike any other way photos can possibly be taken. You are the only one with your eyes, your life experiences, your personality, your angle. You can’t compare that with other people who are completely different from you. If you’re a young photographer comparing yourself to photographers who have been in the business for many years, that just isn’t fair to yourself! They have had years of practicing and failing and getting back up on their feet to become what they’ve become. If you sit in front of your computer and cry about not ever being as good as them, guess what? You probably won’t ever be… because you aren’t experiencing life. I have to remind myself time and time again to stop negatively comparing myself to others because I’m not going to get anywhere with that kind of attitude! So keep your head up. Stay interested. Stay yourself. Stay growing. And be happy about that!


Go Outside. This just in: inside is boring! There is no inspiration sitting on your couch (and I don’t care how much HGTV you watch.) You might say I have learned this the hard way. There was a time when I worked two very inconsistently-scheduled jobs and because of that always had random days off. I’d sit on the couch watching TV while simultaneously reading more photo blogs or “get ideas” from Pinterest. Without fail, at the end of each day, I’d feel awful about myself; I had just spent the last 5 hours comparing my photos to other people’s, and convincing myself I would never be that good. I’d mope around, sad about “the situation” (people. there was no situation). A month passed and I knew I had to make a plan: if I ever had a slight “debbie-downer” moment in my head that specifically related to photography, I would immediately grab my camera and go for a walk. I’d walk and snap and then walk some more. I’d find the pretty things and look in awe, then find the ugly things and make them pretty. Going outside gives me time to think, get to know my camera better, make pictures that I can love and share with people, and also it’s not bad to exercise a little bit, yes? What I’ve learned is this: The only thing you get while being plugged into a very creative world is a whole bunch of browsed and re-browsed websites. Sure, they’re full of gorgeous things, but why compare yourself to the things people have already done when you can go outside and do your own thing?


Ask your friends. If you’re a person who loves taking pictures of people, the only way you’ll get more time behind the camera is if you ask your friends stand in front of it. When I first started taking pictures, I can’t tell you how many times I asked my sister, my roommates and my friends if they wanted to do a spontaneous photo shoot. More often than not, they were willing! I remember my first “real” photo shoot with my friends Michelle and Keeta; We made our way up to these graffiti-covered water towers near my apartment in Syracuse. I was so lucky my friends wanted to take a few hours that Saturday afternoon wander around with me. My pictures have gotten a bit better since then, but some of those pictures I still really love.

Before you ask them: Make sure you have a plan. “Hey, want to do a photo shoot

on Tuesday? Oh, I don’t know where. Hmm, not sure what time. Eh, wear whatever you want.” That’s probably not going to get your friends excited about modeling for you. Have a location picked out, have a general time of day and a good idea of how you want them to dress. You’re the photographer here; you have to be the creative one! Your friends WANT to have nice pictures, and if you at least sound like you know what you want, they will trust your creative direction!

During the shoot: If these people are your good friends, they’ll know that this is a

new experience for you. Don’t be embarrassed if you run out of ideas or poses or even memory space on your card. Take your time (or a break) and chat. Maybe walk around the location more, finding more cool places to take pictures. Don’t rush this fun outing with your friends, but also, if you’re really stuck, don’t force it. Nothing creative ever came from forcing yourself to do something.

The moral of the story is: Ask your awesome siblings or friends to be in front of

your camera and then? Get your practice on! You’ll have more photos to put in your portfolio, and they’ll get great pictures to use as Facebook profile pics. Win win.


Love the Internet. In this day in age, I feel like this is so obvious. YES, too much time on the Internet has the potential to be a good thing. Perusing photo forums and wedding blogs is how I’ve learned most of what I know about the photography industry (wedding in particular). The Internet is also a great tool for connecting with people. The beauty of the internet is you can connect with someone on the other side of the country and learn amazing things from them. Follow people you admire on twitter. Not only do you get updates about their business & things they find interesting, but you also get to peek into their real lives, sort of a “behind the scenes”. This is why photo blogs are great, too. You realize that these people are just like you, people who share your passion. It’s comforting to know that with a TON of hard work, it’s possible to make it happen!

Creativelive.com is an AMAZING resource. All kinds of professional photographers give their advice and I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from them all. Most of the YouTube videos are just 60 second clips, but even so, pretty informative.

Photo.net is also a pretty helpful resource. Peruse through the forums every so often

and take away from them only what you need.

For inspiration in general, the Making Things Happen blog is one of my favorites. Take a look at this blog and learn from these amazing women if you really need that firm boost to get yourself started on your creative journey. Remember, if you see it on the internet, it doesn’t mean that’s the ONLY way to do it. As with any career, there’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter “recipe to success”. Experiment and find what works for you. We also know the Internet can be a time-waster, so find the sites that will teach you as much as possible, and stick to those.


Put pride aside & ask questions. I’ll be honest. I don’t like asking for advice. I have this thing where if I need to ask for advice then I’m not smart enough because I couldn’t figure it out on my own. (Alert: This is called pride. Admitting it now.) That’s why I like blogs, because a lot of great photographers post tips, which means some of my questions are answered without them knowing I’m struggling. BUT. Sometimes I just can’t find an answer, so I have to ask someone. This has happened a bunch of times, so I went to some friends in the industry who were more than generous to help. If I hadn’t have Skyped last October with Alyse, I wouldn’t have made the jump to get this T.W.A.Y domain name and website. If I hadn’t asked Ruthie if she needed a second shooter, she would have gotten someone else first. Don’t have friends who would know the answer? Go to a live-forum, post your Q, and honestly, 8 minutes later you’ll have an answer. It’s OK to not know things. That’s why God put people out there that have been there/ done that and have so much info to share! If you can’t find it on your own, put your pride aside and ask the questions that need to be asked. It will only help you.


www.stephanieritaphoto.com


"Not Advice" Series from Stephanie Rita Photo