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16 Top Photographers Share the Best Advice They’ve Ever Received

by Whitney Ricketts
best, photo & video

Lindsay Adler
There’s no right or one way to be a photographer. While many professions have a linear trajectory directly correlated to degrees obtained or awards received, the career of a photographer hinges upon grit and creativity — in both business and technique. We took the opportunity of hosting the world’s top photographers for CreativeLive Photo Week over the years to get them to reveal the best advice they’ve ever received. Here are their answers, which run the gamut from useful reminders to awesomely profound:

“Make it personal. That is my ultimate goal in my business, no matter what the job is. From social media to volume events with 1000’s of kids: making it personal will help make my business successful.”

— Mike Fulton

“If I don’t go out and get what I want, it likely won’t be handed to me.”

— Brooke Shaden

brooke

“Remember to breathe.”

Khara Plicanic


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“Jump first, fear later.” This wasn’t advice that was given to me, but more of an idea that was instilled in me during a my time interning for a nonprofit in California after high school. Big ideas are awesome and deserve to be tackled. I think it is so important to decide to do something or not do something based on how much you want to do it. Don’t think about the logistics, or the cost, or the time it will take first. Think about whether or not you really want to do it or not. If you do, then just say yes to it and make it happen. Exhibit A: Planes. Can you believe that someone just said, we can do this? Now, there are humongous metal tubes floating through the air all of the time. Figure out what your plan is, and make it happen.”

— Ben Sasso

bensasso

“However big your camera bag is, you will fill it.”
John Greengo

“Every time someone books your highest package, raise your prices.”
— Vanessa Joy

“Face the dragon of fear. To me, this meant to go head-on with the things that scare you most. It’s empowering when you realize you can conquer them, and you most often realize they weren’t that scary after all — and the result is huge leaps in your learning, wisdom, and connection with new experiences. Difficult situations are often only difficult in our minds, and once we tackle them, they seem trivial in hindsight. Person-to-person communication is also greatly enhanced when we say the hard things that need to be said as soon as they need to be said. Oh, and my mom also used to share the advice she got from her mom: ‘Be sweet.’”
— Kevin Kubota

“Being a successful professional photographer has less to do with how good your pictures are and more to do with how good your relationship skills are.”
— Mike Kelley

“Don’t attempt to do EVERYTHING just because you need the money.”
— Erin Manning

“Lowering your prices doesn’t necessarily increase perceived value. In fact, when you have the lowest price in the marketplace, people may believe that your value and quality is the lowest. Don’t undervalue your work, because then others will undervalue it as well.”
Lindsay Adler

“From my Dad: ‘Keep the focus.’ Little did I know how literal those words would be to my life’s calling.”
— Johnny Davenport

pketron-bag-05
“The more ridiculous you look while taking a photo, the better that photo will probably be. Photographers can’t be afraid to get into strange and awkward positions to get the shot they’re after.”
— Pei Ketron

“Don’t take anything personal, it’s just business. If you don’t let things get to you, you’ll be much better off in this field.”
— Pratik Naik

“Stop blowing out your highlights!”
— Courtney Daly

“I was told to photograph 50 strangers in a way revealed something about them. Portrait photography is all about connecting with your subject. That’s a great way to learn how to do it.”
— Brian Smith

“Learn to see light.”
— Ryan Muirhead

 


RSVPs are now open for December 1st! Don’t Miss out on CreativeLive’s FIRST Fine Art Nude Photography class. 

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Whitney Ricketts

Whitney Ricketts is CreativeLive's Senior Communications Manager. Email her at whitney [dot] ricketts [at] creativelive [dot] com.