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
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5 Things

I Wish I Knew When Starting My Photo Career

I’m Natalie. As a reportage photographer and writer with a focus 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 serves as an eloquent representation of my love for the outdoors with a peculiar liking to visual expression.

I’ve worked with top-name brands such as Subaru, Air BnB, United By Blue, Urban Outfitters, Travel and Leisure, Chaco Footwear, Madwell, and many more. Moment being my absolute favorite, though. ;) (No, seriously). And although this list feels professionally foundational, I’d still consider myself a novice. Gah, who am I kidding... I still have so much more to learn!

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

Alright, let’s get into it. Here are five things I wish I knew when I first 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 for 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 anymore.

As you begin the process of chasing great imagery, count on changing your perspective on life. Sounds dramatic, but it’s the truth. You’ll find that hunting for good light is an exciting escapade, you’ll go on great 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, much 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 strong work is something to be proud of. Over time, you’ll notice personal progress and digest all that you’ve accomplished over the years; as well as 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 about the chronicles of my own existence. What a mistake.

As artists with a camera, we have the unique ability to dive deep in the cataloging of our friends, family, and everyday moments. I sincerely wish I did a better job at 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 our own photographic style based on timelessness, not trendiness. When pressed for an articulate description of what constitutes “timelessness”, an exact specification leaves a lot up for discussion. Based on the foundational tenets of Bauhas, described here, there are two principle 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 be has much less to do with the gear you have and more to do with who you are as an artist. Spending thousands of dollars on a top-of-the-line camera shined with the latest, greatest 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 pursuit a journey of constant learning. Be patient with yourself, relax, and love every minute of this beautiful, weird trip creative process.

River and Reyce.

Kj being a goofball.

Jenny on the edge of Arizona's Salt River.

Happy Shooting!

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