Andre Cantelmo Photography
It was the late seventies and I began the transition from casual snap shooter, to attempting to make creative photographs. I was persistent and patient. Two qualities that I've learned, serve me well. Since I tend to be an organized type person, I also kept tract of the methods and habits that produced the most improvement for me. There is nothing earthshaking here, just good habits that jelled with the way my brain works. I suppose the first tip is always work with your genuine self. This will produce the most progression in your skill level because you will stick with the process.
Photographers fall into a few major groups. There are the “image-centric”, the “gear-centric”, and the third group is a blend of the first two. You will find photographers of all skill levels in every group. I have found that for me, expensive top of the line gear does not translate into great photographs. You need very good gear, not the newest and most expensive.
Next I'll state the obvious, find a subject you love, and get out of the house and shoot it. Even when your field trip yields nothing, you are still better off for having the experience behind the camera.
You will have a difficult time being your own critic. Being objective is difficult when it comes to your own work. In addition, you'll need to learn how to edit a shoot and cull out the few good ones. Also, you are neither as great, or as awful as you think you are. If you work behind the camera for fifty years you'll still be a student of sorts pushing your personal envelope of skill.
There are some really good photo editing software programs available. Never let yourself think that you can turn a poor photograph into a great one in post processing. The time behind the camera is critical, make the best image you are capable of, and don't under shoot a subject. Getting the image “right” is very important.
Some types of photography require a tripod. Get a decent one, preferably with a ball head, take the time to adjust it so that its stable and level. Also have backup gear of the critical stuff because when you least need it to happen, some important piece of equipment will fail you.
Expose yourself to great work. Go to galleries, get a book or go online and study the masters of photography. It is really OK to admire a few greats and study their work. The intent is not to copy, or become a groupie, but to study their technique.
Keep this process of creative photography in perspective. This is a journey, and there will be times when all goes so well you'll think you've arrived, and other times when the best you can claim is that you spent the day behind the camera. It's all part of the process, and the process is a lifetime commitment to the art that you love.
You will find people that admire your work, and love it, but never offer the market value to purchase it. Thank these people for the compliment, and resist the free photo habit. Giving away your work seldom benefits you, and very rarely translates into a sale. You are undermining yourself and the industry. Keep the free photos to a scarce minimum. It is not the camera or other equipment that is responsible for the work, it is your skill. A highly skilled photographer can create very good photographs with almost any camera placed in their hands. Never sell yourself short.