“Selfies, Instagram, Pinterest… What a bunch of losers.” That’s exactly what award-winning photographer and Exodus tour-group leader Paul Goldstein thinks of you while you’re posting those balmy beach shots onto Facebook. If you want to learn how to impress your social following, and maybe even make money from your pictures, these are his top tips.
Research, research research. Learn about your destination, find out what camera gear you’re going to need and read about where others go wrong.
Be original. Paul admits it sounds cliché, but he says a flawed original photo is better than a perfect chocolate box photograph of a lion sat there in nice light. “If you’re going to do something with your camera, do it boldly.”
Challenge yourself. If you’re ambitious and aim high, not only will the rewards be greater, but you’ll constantly be learning and getting better as you go.
Be disciplined. Don’t fall into the lazy digital mindset of “oh, it’s alright, I’ll fix it later”. Describing it as a corrosive infection across the photography world, Paul explains in our podcast how intelligent post-production is ruining the development of good photographers. You won’t learn if you don’t strive to get it right first time.
Know your camera. You don’t need to know everything, but know a few basic settings so well, you could do it with your eyes closed. This means you’re always ready to catch the right picture using the right settings.
Invest in the right things. If you’re spending money on photography, spend it on lenses – not cameras. It’s the lens that’s going to get you the pictures. It’s not just about the photographer, it’s about the equipment too.
Practice. Don’t leave your experimentation and learning until you’re out in the field, practice with your camera at home and in places you know well.
Don’t spend your whole trip behind the lens. “If you don’t look, you can’t see.” You might wonder how this is even possible when trying to take stunning photographs and ensure you get the right shot, but preparation is key here and it’s important to keep your head above the camera so you can see the full picture (pardon the pun).
Don’t share. While we wouldn’t usually condone selfishness here at Rough Guides HQ, in photography it’s essential to greedy about your kit. As Paul explains in our photography podcast: “If you’re a couple get a camera each. Don’t for one minute think you’ll share it. That’s just a divorce pending.”
Get the right focal length. “Ninety per cent of all photographs are taken at the long end or the very wide end because they’re interesting. The human eye is about 50mm so anything too close to that is not going to be that interesting.”
Be ethical. Don’t get too close. Be respectful and think about what you’re photographing – make sure you’re not leaving any impact on your subject.
Market your pictures. There are plenty of places where you can share your photos under different licenses, and even sell them online in a simple and no-catch way. Try Picfair for starters, and look our for the many more sites that are bound to pop up like it.
All photographs courtesy of Paul Goldstein. Paul Goldstein is an award winning photographer for leading UK adventure tour operator Exodus.