5 Things I Wish I First Knew When Starting Photography

While pain points are all apart of the process, here are 5 things photographer and writer, Natalie Allen, wishes she knew at the start of her photo career.

5 Things I Wish I First Knew When Starting Photography

I’m Natalie. As a reportage photographer and writer focused on travel and adventure storytelling, I am passionate about the stories, people, brands, and projects that influence an intersection of art and lifestyle. With an intent to be as vulnerably philosophical or poetic as need be, my work is categorized as both whimsical and journalistic. It is an eloquent representation of my love for the outdoors, with a particular liking for visual expression.

I’ve worked with brands such as Subaru, Air BnB, United By Blue, Urban Outfitters, Travel and Leisure, Chaco Footwear, Madwell, and many more.

Photography has transformed my life into an ethereal sense of token passion, an insight into the present moment. What first began as a hobby has since become a full-blown professional career. However, pain points are a part of the process, and I wanted to give insight into what those look like. Take what I say with a grain of salt as I continue to blossom just like anybody else.

Alright, let’s get into it. Here are five things I wish I had known when I began my photography career.

Zack Buras on his motorcycle in Joshua Tree.

Van life.

Your Perspective Will Shift

As you become more serious with photography, you might forcibly see your purpose and artistic intentions shift focus. Original colors will stray, the subject matter might differ, and your overall philosophy will strengthen for better or worse. By examining your body of work nutritiously, you’ll be a student of every photo or video you make. I can hardly look at a photograph or watch a film without critically thinking about its story or subject matter.

As you begin chasing fantastic imagery, count on changing your perspective on life. It sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth. You’ll find that hunting for good light is an exciting escapade, you’ll go on incredible adventures to capture something fresh, and you’ll recreate snippets of your life to reimagine them in a singular, timeless frame. Jumping into photography headfirst, like taking a plunge into a cold lake, brightens the right side of the brain. Go full force.

Oregon coast.

A cup of coffee in New York City.

Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot the Little Things

A portfolio of solid work is something to be proud of. Over time, you’ll notice personal progress, digest all that you’ve accomplished over the years, and marvel at what’s to come. However, as a photographer, it’s wise to think of how you can document your personal life. In the early stages of my photography career, I primarily focused on building my portfolio and less on the chronicles of my existence. What a mistake.

As artists with a camera, we can dive deep into the cataloging of our friends, family, and everyday moments. I sincerely wish I had done a better job recording clippings of my early twenties and using my camera for more selfish purposes.

Lovers on the beach of Lake Powell.

Monks in India.

Father of Mfuwe, Zambia.

Focus on Timeless Edits, NOT What’s Trendy

This is, by far, the biggest takeaway I have.

Please, for the sake of your future self, take the time to create your photographic style based on timelessness, not trendiness. When pressed for an articulate description of what constitutes “timelessness,” an exact specification leaves much up for discussion. Based on the foundational tenets of Bauhaus, described here, there are two principal components of what creates a sincere quality of timeless art. Although these principles directly apply to design, photography is just as parallel.

  • Purpose: With the prioritization of function over form, the purpose of any photograph decides its final form and scene.
  • Zero Nonsense: By eliminating nonsensical elements of ornamentation, the final photograph stands strong.

Timelessness embodies the concept of “less is more,” executed with a clear direction, sought-after discipline, and masterful craft.

Eunice in Milan, Italy.

Washington Coast.

It’s Not The Gear — It’s You

Becoming the best photographer, you can have much less to do with the gear you have and more with who you are as an artist. Spending thousands of dollars on a top-of-the-line camera shined with the latest, most excellent accessories will only increase the quality of camera alignment, not the photography itself. Your camera specs do not translate into better photos. Those who take the time to form a relationship with their camera in a healthy, technical manner can then progress their energy on learning the fundamentals of photography as an art.

Kj Pinc in the Bahamas.

Me on the edge of Positano, Italy.

Be Patient; Not Everything Has to Be Perfect

The art and craft of photography is a practice of personal evolution. As do most things, time is the essence of success. You’ll soon recognize your ability to perfect workflow, embody a personal style, and pursue a journey of constant learning. Be patient with yourself, relax, and love every minute of this beautiful, weird creative process.

River and Reyce.

Kj being a goofball.

Jenny on the edge of Arizona's Salt River.

Happy Shooting!

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