21 Photography Tips That Will Actually Make A Difference

I am going to give you 21 Photography Tips That Will Actually make A Difference in this post.  I am talking about things that really work and will genuinley help you. These are things that I have learned over many years as a photographer. These are not quick tips, some of these are ways of thinking about things differently.

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21 tips for photographers that will actually make a difference

This post was republished on Friday 8th March 2019 with a new title and introduction - 21 Photography Tips That WIll Actually Make A Difference.

Rick McEvoy Photography

20 tips for photographers - things I wish I had known when I started my journey in photography

It took me a while to come up with this title. I wanted to encapsulate this entire subject in one line.

Alternative titles were

  • 20 things I wish I had known when I started my journey in photography

  • 20 pieces of advice for new photographers

  • 20 tips for photographers – things I wish I knew

  • 20 things I have learned which will help you grow as a photographer

I went with the title at the top, which I hope explains what I am going to write about in this post.

I wanted to write about 20 things that I wish I had known when I started taking my photography seriously, with a view to be it being my primary source of income at some point in the future. For me this was in the year 2007.

These are 20 things that I have learned along the way, which I hope will help you in your journey in photography.

These are all my own opinions, based on my experiences in the last 11 years.

I hope you find them helpful.

A lot of these points are interrelated, and things will get a mention more than once, but at the end I will summarise with 10 key points what I have written about in this blog post.

They are in no particular order, just the way things came out of my head.

These are the 20 things

  1. Don’t worry about the gear

  2. Second hand gear is fine

  3. Learn about composition

  4. Get off the computer and get out there

  5. Take less photos

  6. Take more photos in interesting places.

  7. Forget layers in Photoshop

  8. Start with Lightroom

  9. Learn Lightroom properly (before trying anything else)

  10. Get honest critiques of your work

  11. Join a professional body

  12. Don’t research a location too much before going there

  13. Practice, practice, practice. And fail. Fail lots.

  14. Choose the people whose advice you trust and stick with them

  15. Listen to podcasts

  16. Start a blog

  17. Buy a tripod

  18. Don’t worry about social media

  19. Follow your own mind, dreams and ambitions

  20. Enjoy it

1 – Don’t worry about the gear

Get the best gear you can, but don’t break the bank. That is the first general point I want to get across to everyone getting started in photography.

And to be honest this applies to all of us at all stages of our journeys. In my humble opinion there is too much talk about photography gear. Much too much.

I have been using my Canon 6D for well over 4 years now, and it still produces great images. I have images in my portfolio that were taken with my 12 mega pixel Canon 5D. And do you know what – you cannot tell that they were taken with a 10-year-old camera.

My clients are not interested in my gear – all they care about is the images that I produce for them. I have never been asked (other than in passing interest) about the cameras and lenses I use. The only time has been when I was with a client who had an interest in photography.

Don’t worry about the gear – get the best you can and use it.

Peak Design Evryday Backpack 22052018.PNG

And another point – don’t take all your gear with you wherever you go.

I have my base gear in my Peak Design Everyday Backpack. This is a small 20 litre bag.

It looks like this.

In it I carry the following

Canon 6D

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG
Canon 17-40 21052018.PNG
Canon 70-200 21052018.PNG

A few other bits – memory cards, spare batteries, a Platypod and ball head, a couple of key filters, grey card, colour card, cloths and wipes.

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod (which fits in a side pocket and is strapped in place) with geared head

Not forgetting my Neewer Loupe Viewer.

And that is the base gear I use 95% of the time.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack on location in Santorini

Peak Design Everyday Backpack on location in Santorini

Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens, Platypod Pro

Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens, Platypod Pro

I have just written an article about this which you can read on the Improve Photography website titled Full frame DSLR photography without breaking the bank – this is how I do it

Read this article on Improve Photography

Read this article on Improve Photography

2 – Second hand gear is fine

The first full frame DSLR I bought was a Canon 5D. I bought it from a photographer who had not had it long but had a change of heart and decided to stay with medium format.

That camera worked faultlessly for my formative years as a photographer, and I used this great camera on many commercial jobs.

I have lenses that I bought new, and lenses that I bought second hand. And can I tell them apart? Not really no. Of course, I know which are which, but in practical terms they all produce great results.

And a slight aside here but an important point all the same – lenses hold their value incredibly well.

Again, the last article I wrote on the Improve Photography website talks about this as well, and the gear that I use. I have linked to it above.

3 – Learn about composition

Classic lines in this compostion for an architect

Classic lines in this compostion for an architect

This is the number 1 mistake I made for years and years. I was too busy looking at what gear to buy next and taking photos without really thinking about composition.

What happened?

I got bored with producing average photos. I bored myself to be honest. And this was when I started to think about my images, what I didn’t like about them, and how I might make them better.

I stopped obsessing about my gear, and instead concentrated on the pictures themselves.

I looked at the work of the best photographers, read books and took the time to critique my work. It was at this time that I submitted my first portfolio submission to the BIPP – that is the British Institute of Professional Photography.

My first submission was a complete revelation – a Hasselblad master called Bryn Griffiths very kindly and patiently critiqued the images I sent him. I had to rethink my submission, and quite a few of the images were removed from my portfolio and replaced with images that worked better.

This was the beginning really of my realisation of what really matters in photography.

Composition is king.

Get the composition right and you have a great photo., be it on the best DLSR, a lovely Hasselblad, an iPhone, a point and shoot – any camera.

But a rubbish composition is a rubbish composition, and probably a rubbish photo, whatever the camera.

If you take two things from this I will be happy.

Forget the gear.

Work on composition.

If you are happy to read on, then thank you.

To continue with the portfolio thing and the BIPP, last month I had my second portfolio assessment at the BIPP – this time for my Associateship.

And Associateship is defined by the BIPP as

“A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability”

And all those years on from the initial critique, all I was asked to change by Bryn was the white balance to some of my interior images – that was it.

I have worked very hard on improving the quality of my images, and this is the result.

Composition on a architectural photgraphy shoot

Composition on a architectural photgraphy shoot

And I got my Associateship – I am now an ABIPP. And one of the points of feedback was the observation that I did not appear to crop many, if any, of the 40 images submitted. I had not thought about this, but it turns out this is the case.

I rarely crop an image. Like I say this is not a deliberate ploy, some attempt at a certain style, trying to be different.

No – this was pointed out to me and is the logical conclusion of the work I have done to date on my composition, and also taking the time and care when capturing images.

I will talk about my professional qualifications later on in this post.

Me on location in Santorini

Me on location in Santorini

4 – Get off the computer and get out there

Another mistake I made. Rather than getting out there taking photos I spent too much time working on photos in Lightroom and then every worse doing nothing with them.

Now I know we all need to practice to learn Lightroom but please give this some thought – apply some structure to your learning and you will progress in leaps and bounds. Do not do what I did, which basically was keep on doing the same things to more and more images, or you will stagnate.

I did.

And whilst learning Lightroom don’t but any plug-ins.

Sunrise on Santorini by Rick McEvoy travel photography

Sunrise on Santorini by Rick McEvoy travel photography

Being out with a camera is a joy that we should all embrace more than we do. I spend more time writing these days than I do taking photos – an occupational hazard – but when I get the opportunity there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting waiting for the sun to rise, or setting up my tripod to take a considered photo of a stunning building.

Even more of a joy when you have a lightweight backpack and are not burdened with 50kgs of back-breaking stuff!

5 – Take less photos

Get out more, take the shots you want, work the scene by all means. And then move on.

It took me a while to realise that I was taking the same scene more than once. On architectural shoots I would work in a logical order around a building, and then at the end if I had time photograph as many things again from the beginning.

I think it was a lack of confidence at the time. And I never used any of the images I took again – the ones I took on the first place were without exception better.

These days when I am working on an architectural shoot I aim to capture as few images as possible. I photographed a very famous persons house the other week, and on the internals I took one or two shots per room.

I took the time to get my composition bang on for the views needed and that was that.

This of course relates back to the point about composition – take the time to get the composition right and you don’t need to move three feet to the left to take the same scene from a very marginally different viewpoint.

And you will thank me when you are going through your photos in Lightroom, or whatever software you might be using.

I love going through an architectural shoot and picking consecutive images as picks to edit. This tells me that I was working at my optimum.

6 – Take more photos in interesting places. I will qualify this at the end somewhat.

I am not saying get out and photograph the most often photographed locations. For me that would be Durdle Door, which I have photographed twice.

No - get out to interesting places, not necessarily those that would feature in a “Top 10 locations to photograph in Dorset” kind of thing.

Take this shot, which was taken one New Year’s Eve afternoon at my local woods, which to my shame I had never been to before. In that one afternoon I get some really great stuff, and no-one knows or indeed cares where I took the photos. All people care about is the photos themselves.

Delph Woods, Poole - landscape photography in Dorset

Delph Woods, Poole - landscape photography in Dorset

But do not restrict yourself to the headline locations. I hear tales of lines of photographers at the headline locations standing shoulder to shoulder all taking the same image!

Go to places others don’t go, find things to photograph. Be original.

7 – Forget layers in Photoshop

Seriously. I don’t use layers. I have a couple of times for sky replacements, which I try to avoid doing, but apart from that I don’t get layers.

I process all my images in Lightroom. I only go into Photoshop to remove things that I can’t remove in Lightroom. I have spent hours and hours trying to learn Photoshop – the problem was that I did not have a need for Photoshop, so I was trying to learn something I did not actually need.

All I use in Photoshop is the following

  • Clone stamp tool

  • Patch tool

  • Healing brush

And I resize images if I need them printing at specific sizes

Here is why I can get away with only doing these things in Photoshop, and why I don’t need layers.

I do as much work as possible in Lightroom – when I need to go into Photoshop I select Edit in Photoshop, and Lightroom sends the image to Photoshop. Once I am done I hit save and the image appears next to the original image sent to Lightroom.

The new file is a brand new Tif file, the original Lightroom file is exactly as it was before being sent to Photoshop.

I therefore do not need to worry about undoing the work I have done in Photoshop, as it is so minimal I can just do it again and produce another new Tif file.

This is why I don’t need layers, and why it doesn’t bother me either.

8 – Start with Lightroom – just Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom Classic 7.3 on my PC

Adobe Lightroom Classic 7.3 on my PC

Start with Lightroom. Don’t try anything else. Use Lightroom to organise your photos – the Library Module is incredibly powerful, and as far as I am concerned is the best software to use to catalogue your photos. I have been using Lightroom for over 10 years now and can honestly say that the latest version of Lightroom Classic is the best.

And once you have done this why edit your photos anywhere else?

I do as much of my editing as I possibly can in Lightroom – if I can edit an image in Lightroom and not go anywhere else to do more work I am a happy person.

A point of digression here – I have just upgraded the RAM in my Dell PC to 16GB from 8GB and it has made a massive difference to Lightroom. In the Lightroom Classic 7.3 upgrade performance improvements were added, but you needed 12GB or more to benefit from these improvements.

9 – Learn Lightroom properly before trying anything else

I started using Lightroom, and at the same time discovered the wonderful world of plug-ins. I bought the following

  • Photomatix Pro

  • Topaz Labs

  • On One Perfect Suite

  • Nik Collection

  • PT Gui

There are probably some others I bought which I can’t even remember.

And I played around with them, without ever mastering any of them.

And this was at the same time as trying to learn how to use Lightroom.

And when I got an iPad Pro I got even more stuff

Now I am working as a professional photographer what software do I use?

Lightroom

And when needed Photoshop

And Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile is an essential tool, which syncs with Lightroom Classic on my desktop.

10 – Get honest critiques of your work

I mean people who know what they are looking at. I don’t think that family members are the best people to critique your work – they love you after all (well I hope that do) and will not give you an honest critique.

Social media is a minefield, and not to be relied on for feedback on images. You have to remember that people scrolling through endless photos are probably liking your photo in the hope that you will see this and like one of theirs. And they have liked many other photos, giving each one equal time, care and attention – a second if you are lucky.

Find someone who you can trust to critique your work. I use the BIPP for this, and I write about this elsewhere in this post.

And when you have had a critique from someone who knows what they are talking about it is very very important to act on that critique.

This is another important point – learn something, then make sure you act on it. If you don’t act on something you learn you might as well have not bothered learning it in the first place!

11 – Join a professional body

BIPP qualified logo ABIPP Black.jpg

I am a firm believer in professional bodies and professional qualifications. I have been a Chartered Member of the CIOB, the Chartered Institute of Building - MCIOB. This is the benchmark professional qualification for construction management professionals.

I was a member of the SWPP for some time – this is the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers. Not an obvious choice for me, but this was in the early days of my journey into professional photography.

Now I am sure there is nothing wrong with the SWPP, but I left having not got a lot out of my membership.

I came across the BIPP – the British Institute of Professional Photography. I applied to join the BIPP, and to do this I had to submit a portfolio which was critiqued, rejected and worked on quite a lot before it was of a standard for entry level membership, LBIPP – Licentiate of the British Institute of Professional Photography.

This qualification is described by the BIPP on the qualifications page as

“Entry level qualification, showing an established professional level of skill and competence”

It took me a while to get a set of images to this standard and was the first professional critique I had experienced.

Last month I managed to gain my Associateship, ABIPP. This is defined by the BIPP as

“A high standard of craftsmanship and creative ability”

It was much easier to select the images for this submission. I tried to do this a couple of years ago, but I was not happy with the standard of my work.

Not only do I get qualifications and recognition of the level of my work, the BIPP provide great information and the magazine they produce I read cover to cover every month. And I don’t read much else thinking about it.

Join a professional body – one that is relevant to you and the photography work that you want to do or are doing. Embrace that professional body and gain the qualifications available – it pushed me to a higher level of work and can do the same for anyone.

12 – Don’t research a location too much before going there

Another controversial point of view. There are many Apps you can get that will show you all the great images from a location, so you know exactly what you are going to get when you arrive at that very spot.

And if you pick a really famous spot when you get there you might be shoulder to shoulder with lots of other photographers.

This sounds like an absolute nightmare to me. So bad I have mentioned this twice in this blog post.

What is the point of going to a location and taking the same photos everyone else already has? And more to the point are doing at the same time as you?

And even worse, do you want to go to a location with photos others have already taken in the back of your mind?

I don’t.

I do not research a location other than the headline research that tells me that there is interesting stuff there to photograph.

I will give you an example here.

Santorini

I was treated (by the wonderful Mrs. M) to a 5-day photographic trip to the wonderful Greek Island of Santorini. I had wanted to go there for years. I did no research at all.

The only thing I did work out was where the sun rose and set each day, and where that fitted in with the geography of the island. And what time of course.

Apart from that my research was all done out on location. I basically walked around potential locations on arrival and chose my spot for the first sunrise.I didn’t come across another photographer anywhere. Apart from one coach party that arrived too late for the pre-sunrise wonders that I witnessed.

Santorini by Rick McEvoy ABIPP travel photographer

Santorini by Rick McEvoy ABIPP travel photographer

The first sunset was basically us sitting on the terrace at our hotel – it was that easy. But sunrises were about getting out and about early.

Santorini sunset by Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Travel Photographer

Santorini sunset by Rick McEvoy ABIPP - Travel Photographer

OK it was not by luck that this was the view from our room!

13 – Practice, practice, practice. And fail.

This is an easy one. The more you practice the better you get. This is just a fact. There is the 10,000-hour thing – that is the amount of time it takes to become proficient at something.

I have probably spent 10,000 hours in Lightroom – I don’t suggest you do that by the way.

I am taking about getting out and taking photos.

And don’t be afraid of failing. Failing is one of the best ways of learning.

Practice any type of photography that you find interesting. Don’t restrict yourself to landscapes. Try other things. If you don’t like them fine.

Here are 14 quotes about failure from the inspirational James Dyson, which I have extracted from the website Logo Maker

  • “I could buy companies, tart up their products and put my name on them, but I don’t want to do that. That’s what our competitors do.”

  • “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.”

  • “The key to success is failure… Success is made of 99 percent failure.”

  • “We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You’re on it, and you can’t get off.”

  • “Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success.”

  • “Anyone can become an expert at anything in six months, whether it is hydrodynamics for boats or cyclonic systems for vacuum cleaners.”

  • “You are just as likely to solve a problem by being unconventional and determined as by being brilliant.”

  • “I learned that the moment you want to slow down is the moment you should accelerate.”

  • “Everyone gets knocked back, no one rises smoothly to the top without hindrance. The ones who succeed are those who say, right, let’s give it another go.”

  • “It is said that to be an overnight success takes years of effort. So it has proved with me.”

  • “We always want to create something new out of nothing, and without research, and without long hard hours of effort. But there is no such things as a quantum leap. There is only dogged persistence—and in the end you make it look like a quantum leap.”

  • “In business you will be wrong, by and large, 50 percent of the time. The trick is to recognise when you have gone wrong and correct the damage—not to worry, at the moment of making the decision, whether it is the right one.”

  • “In order to fix [something], you need a passionate anger about something that doesn’t work well.”

  • “Risk aversion is a hapless approach for a company that’s hoping to develop new technology. It’s tempting in a downturn. But long-term research and development, expensive and often filled with failure as it is, is the only route to discovering it. By taking the cautious path, companies risk a drought of ideas.”

And look what happened to him…..

14 – Choose the people whose advice you trust and stick with them

There are lots of people with lots of opinions and lots of advice. And they are all valid in their own ways.

Problem is that they all say slightly different things. As I said none of them are wrong necessarily, just different.

This piece of advice will hopefully help.

Listen to everyone and anyone you want to, and then choose the people who resonate with you.

I found myself jumping all over the place, picking up bits of advice here and there and trying to apply them.

And achieving nothing.

I have now narrowed down to a small number of people whose opinions have proved sound and relevant to me over the years.

And as I said somewhere else, if you pick up a piece of advice that is useful to you please use it. That was another mistake I made over and over.

These days I act on things I learn whenever I can.

To digress slightly, I have Post It pads in my car, and always have a notebook with me. Anything that I want to remember I write down, and later add to my iPhone in an App called Wunderlist.

Later I sort all these notes and add them to Evernote.

Check out the book How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott

15 – Listen to podcasts

I recommend these. My favourites shift over time, but these are my favourites at the moment

  • Improve Photography

  • Peta Pixel

  • The Togcast

  • The Grid

  • This Week in Photo

  • The No Name Photo Show

  • RAW Talk

  • Six Figure Photography

  • Creative Marketing Show

  • He Shoots He Draws

  • The Sprouting Photographer

None photography podcasts that I enjoy

  • Beyond Busy

  • The Solopreneur Hour

  • Voom Podcast

  • Smart Passive Income

  • BBC Friday Night Comedy

  • The Danny Baker Show

  • Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy

  • Test Match Special

  • Tailenders (I am a massive cricket fan)

I do a lot of driving, and rather than this being dead time I use the time to learn lots and lots and lots.

Some of these I listen to all of, some I listen to part of, some the subject is of no interest. It just depends. But if a podcast is not of interest to me I just delete it straight away and move on.

And my favourites have shifted over time – I now am listening more to podcasts on entrepreneurship, business development – that kind of thing.

Don’t necessarily restrict yourself to podcasts about what you are interested in – you can learn things from any good photography podcast. The example here is the Sprouting Photographer. This is mainly about wedding and portrait photography, not my bag at all. Some episodes I don’t listen to at all, but I give them a try first as there are often little gems within them that I have found incredibly useful.

If you are new to podcasts try the ones listed above, and anything else that you find, and give them a go. You will soon find the ones that are relevant to you.

I also listen to podcasts when I am cutting the grass. Peta Pixel podcast has the best audio quality, so I save them for the lawn mowing. Sure you are delighted to hear that Sharkey!

And I watch blind photo critiques on The Grid when I make it onto the cross trainer

Talk about efficiency!

16 – Start a blog

Write about your experiences. Writing is a great way of capturing your journey, recording the good and bad, and allowing you to share your experiences not on social media but on your own part of the internet.

Be it a blog on your own website, or on a WordPress blog – just start publishing stuff on a weekly basis and you will be amazed where this takes you. I have been producing a daily blog now for nearly 2 ½ years, and many doors have opened up as a result.

I get asked regularly to add links from old blog posts to other articles written by other people which are relevant to what my core business is – photography of the built environment in all its shapes and sizes.

If you are going to start a blog, choose a niche and stick with that – it will pay dividends in future years.

If you have any aspirations to make money from photography start a blog right now. Go on – stop reading this and do it.

17 – Buy a tripod

When I started off taking my photography seriously I bought a tripod, a big heavy thing with a big heavy head.

And it was heavy.

And guess what?

I left it in my car. I had so much gear in a large backpack. So much gear that the tripod was just too much.

And as a result, I only used my tripod at night.

I have mentioned elsewhere in this post about my gear – I travel light and with my hands free.

I use my tripod for every architectural image I take. The only exception to this is when I need to use a painter’s pole to get high, or my Platypod to take a photo from the floor, or where there is just no room for my tripod, normally squeezed into a corner of a room.

Canon 6D on Platypod Ultra, Dorset

Canon 6D on Platypod Ultra, Dorset

I use a Manfrotto 190 Go tripod with X-Pro geared head. The tripod is lightweight, sturdy and easy to use. I have bigger tripods, but they are difficult to use when I am taking interior photographs, as I have to normally get back right into the corner of a room.

Manfrotto tripod on location on an architectectural photography shoot, Dorset

Manfrotto tripod on location on an architectectural photography shoot, Dorset

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod on location in Santorini

Manfrotto 190 Go tripod on location in Santorini

The geared head is essential for composing architectural images.

And I use exactly the same set up for landscape and travel photography. I use exactly the same gear, set up and camera settings. The only exception is when I am walking around a location grabbing shots, which is not that often.

I have found that my composition has improved significantly when I started using my tripod more. It slowed me down and made me think about each and every shot much more.

The result of this was less images, and the ones that I took were much better than before I used the tripod.

This ties back to what I said earlier about composition and taking less photos.

18 – Don’t worry about social media

I don’t really get social media. It has not brought me any photography work that I am aware of. And I find it quite boring.

But everyone says we all have to be on it, we all have to be seen on all the social media platforms.

Someone please tell me why?

This is what I have done to satisfy the perceived need with minimal effort.

I have automated as much of my social media output as I can. I have a daily photography blog, and I share this content automatically from Squarespace to some social media channels and do manual shares to other channels.

Instagram output is shared to other channels using the great iPhone App IFTT – If This Then That.

And I don’t respond to every comment, thumbs up, like. I just post some stuff and that is pretty much it.

I do worry about my website, the content on it, and how people find my website when putting search terms into Google. This is where I put 95% of my effort – social media platforms come and go, and we do not control them.

Don’t worry about social media too much, instead focus on your own part of the internet.

19 – Follow your own mind, dreams and ambitions

Listen to the advice of the people whose opinions you value but choose your own path. And stick with your chosen path. I have too many times deviated from a chosen course of action.

I have started doing something, and then heard or read something and found something new to do.

Now I am following a planned course of actions, based on everything I have learned to date. And I am sticking to that plan, just tweaking it when I find better ways of doing things.

I set some targets for my photography business for 2018, which you can read here. And since I set them things have changed, and one of the targets I am not doing at all – I have a different way of achieving what I want to but my own way.

Of course, things change over time – I was going to go all in with stock photography in January but am now going in a completely different direction with that particular thing.

But the general principle of what I am trying to do, which to be fair has taken 10 years to produce, is the plan that I am working to.

And on that point, you have to give yourself time to figure out where you want to go with your photography.

20 – Enjoy it

Enjoy your photography. Work hard at it but enjoy it.

Even if you want to be your full time paid gig it is still something to be enjoyed. I don’t take photographs anywhere near as often as I used to. I seem to spend more time writing and responding to emails than I do taking photos.

But guess what?

When I manage to get out somewhere new at sunrise it is an absolute joy. I work on my photography business all the time, but there is nothing like being out on location at sunrise.

Last month I witnessed this sunrise from the beach in Altea in Spain. And also saw this stunning church at sunrise on another morning.

Sunrise in Altea, Spain by Rick McEvoy Travel Photographer

Sunrise in Altea, Spain by Rick McEvoy Travel Photographer

The church on the hill at sunrise, Altea, Spain

The church on the hill at sunrise, Altea, Spain

For both of these occasions there was no one else there – it was just me and the most natural thing of all, the breaking of a new day.

An event that will never happen again, and it was just me there at that time in that location.

No matter how much work I spend on my photography business that feeling never goes away – the sheer joy of watching and photographing something that will never happen again.

Enjoy your photography – it is a wonderful gift and a privilege to be a part of.

And these are those 10 bullet points I promised right at the beginning.

  1. Get the best gear you can afford.

  2. Only get the gear you need.

  3. Don’t get any more gear.

  4. Have one bag you can carry comfortably.

  5. Get and use a tripod.

  6. Get out and shoot.

  7. Learn Lightroom.

  8. Practice. Fail.

  9. Learn.

  10. Enjoy.

I hope you have enjoyed this post – if you have any comments or questions you can either comment on this blog post or email me at sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk

E3266C17-138F-4F50-9F1D-C86A1E827EA4.JPG

I am a photographer based in Dorset specialising in

Architectural photography

Commercial photography

Industrial photography

Landscape Photography

Travel Photography

That’s it. No weddings. No people. No animals.

And also on being a photography blogger and all-round internet marketeer.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB – Rick McEvoy Photography – Photography Blogger

Full frame photography without breaking the bank - read all about this on Improve Photography

My latest article on the Improve Photography website is titled Full frame DSLR photography without breaking the bank – this is how I do it

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I have been thinking about this for some time to be honest.

I have lost count of the number of architectural shoots where all I have used is the following

Canon 6D 21052018.PNG
Canon 17-40 21052018.PNG
Canon 70-200 21052018.PNG
Peak Design Evryday Backpack 22052018.PNG

And some other things which all fit in my Peak Design Everyday Backpack

  • Spare batteries
  • Memory cards
  • Cleaning stuff
  • Platypod and ball head
  • Grey card
  • Passport colour Checker

I have two other bags which I take with me on every shoot, and a tool box.

These contain a lot of my other gear – not all of it – there is another large box in my office

And how often do I use this other stuff?

Not often. To be fair a lot of it is spares just in case something doesn’t work. And some gear that I use when needed, such as my painters pole, stepladders etc.

But to be fair to my Canon gear it has never failed me – hope I am not tempting fate here!

And this is one of the reasons that I stick with the gear I have – it works day in day out. And that is an important thing when you make a living doing this.

But more times than not I use the following

  • Canon 6D
  • Canon17-40mm lens
  • L bracket
  • Grey card
  • Tripod and geared head
  • Viewer
My Canon 17-40mm lens

And that is it. None of the other stuff gets a look in. And this is where the thought came to me, along with the subject for this latest article.

Full frame DSLR photography without breaking the bank – this is how I do it

And this is how I do it. I have not made this up to make myself sound quirky, a tech hating hipster. No – and this is not a marketing tool or USP.

It is just how I have evolved as a photographer,

The more I know, the better I get, the less gear I use.

I can also apply this to my processing.

I have dabbled, as I will be writing about next month’s long blog post, in all sorts of image processing software. And have never mastered anything other than Lightroom.

For my commercial photography work I import my images into Lightroom, and that is where I do most of my editing. I do final polishing of images in Photoshop, but that is removing things, cleaning things up and finishing off an image

The only tools I use in Photoshop are

  • Clone stamp
  • Healing brush
  • Patch tool

And somethings the wonderful content aware fill – this is mainly for landscape and travel work though, which is still work.

I don’t use layers in Photoshop.

I don’t understand them, possibly because I have never found a use for them. I am quite a literal person – if I don’t need it I don’t need it and learning it is problematic for me.

And I don’t use any of the various plug-ins that I have bought over the years, nor the other software that I have bought.

And to be honest my processing in Lightroom gets less and less the more I refine my workflow, whilst at the same time maintaining a consistently higher standard of work.

I guess this all part of the evolutionary process, which is why I wrote the article I did.

This really has been an interesting article to write, along with these additional thoughts in this post – I have simplified down my gear, image capture process and digital processing workflow.

They are all refined now to repeatable, efficient workflows producing high quality work.

I guess that the one thing I need to do now is to record these three things

  • Gear
  • Image capture
  • Image processing

As I appear to be in a good place right now with all three aspects of my photography.

And now for foreign trips that is all the gear I take. Ok that and my iPhone 7 Plus and DJI Osmo Mobile.

It was nice to be able to write about these thoughts, I find that writing helps me make sense of things.

Workload

Unfortunately, I am having to reduce my output on Improve Photography to once a month at the moment – there is just too much going on and something had to give time wise.

I am going to be producing longer posts on my photography blog, very similar to the kinds of things I have written about for Improve Photography.

I am looking forward to receiving comments from the readers of the Improve Photography website – that is the bit I really enjoy. Even the negative comments – you can’t please everyone all the time!

And there is the spike in traffic to my website, which is becoming to be honest less noticeable with the other work that I have been doing on my website and my blog.

It is interesting to see what people think of my writing, especially as I am getting comments from all around the world.

As I said I really enjoy this aspect of the writing – it is probably the first-time people have read what I have written and told me what they think. Up to this point I have been producing daily output on my photography blog that is not being read by many people, but I always knew that I had to get through that and stick with it.

Next month’s article

Next month’s article subject matter is to be decided. In the meantime, I have lots of other things to be getting on with on my website and with my images.

I have a few thoughts on what to write and have promised a summary of the comments from my series of articles about being an architectural photographer.

I fancy writing a post about being a photography blogger, but we will have to wait and see what I come up with over the next month.

Rick McEvoy Photography – Improve Photography Writer - Photography Blogger

What is my favourite camera lens? Well my Canon 17-40mm F4L lens is one of them for sure!

I was thinking about my camera gear. And my favourite lens.

The Canon 17-40mm F4 Lens.

I write a lot about my camera, the Canon 6D.

I mention my Manfrotto 190 Go tripod with geared head quite a bit, along with my Platypod. I also mention my favourite camera bag, the Peak Design Everyday Backpack.

But I rarely write about my Canon 17-40mm lens. So it is time I corrected this.

First off, 17mm is getting into ultra-wide angle focal lengths. And how much does this lens costs?

Well I have just headed over to Amazon and you can get this lens brand new for a lot less than £600 at the time of writing here

I know.

What a bargain. It seriously is great value.

I use this probably 75% of the time at the 17mm end of things. At least 75% of the time. I use it for the wide end of things.

I use this lens for all my interior photography work, and would only use something else if I had something wider. Which for me would be the Canon 11-24mm lens. But that is a beast of a lens, in every way. Check it out here at Amazon here – look at that price! Another £2000 over the 17-400mm lens. Sure you get a lot more lens for your money but how wide do you need to go for architectural photography?

17mm is good. I would like to stretch to 16mm - an extra mm at these focal lengths does make a difference.   

But the Canon 17-40mm lens is very wide, great quality and just takes great images.

All at a bargain price. 

Rick McEvoy Photography - architectural photographer  

My thoughts on photography gear – how much photography gear is too much?

I was drafting out a post about a recent foreign trip. Not a photography trip.

A holiday.

Sure, I took my camera, and my Peak Design Everyday Backpack, which by the way is also my hand luggage/ day bag. 

I only took two lenses. No tripod. Just my Platypod.  

I barely filled half my bag. 

And did I miss all that other lovely photography gear? 

No. Of course not. And this made me think (Oh no is the cry!).

I only used the one lens as it happened, and spent more time looking around and not so much time taking photographs, which was nice. 

I hear so much technical talk about gear on the photography podcasts I listen to, and the photography publications seem to be full of reviews of this and that gear, which I rarely if ever read. 

I have a cupboard full of photography equipment, lots of which I never use. I have my go to gear which I use all the time, plus a few lenses and other funky accessories that I have picked up along the way.

I also have some unusual gear such as my painters’ poles – yes, I have two of them – with an adaptor so I can stick my Canon 6D (less than £1000 now on Amazon!) 5m above the ground if I want to.

I guess the point I am trying to make is this. This is how I look at photography gear.

Will a new piece of gear help me to take better photographs? If so then great. If not, I don’t buy it.

Sure, I still make the odd impulse purchase, and buy things that did not work as I had hoped they would, but in the main gear is not top of my list.

Not anymore. And yes, it was once. I seemed to be forever buying new bits of this and that.

Now I happily use what I have, which is principally

Canon 6D (Mark 1 – not the new one)

Canon 17-40, 24-105, 70-200 and 24mm tilt shift lenses.

Manfrotto tripods and geared tripod head.

Platypods (I have two of these now which I use regularly).

Lastolite grey colour calibrator.

Pec Pads and Eclipse lens cleaning solution.

Spudz lens cloths.

My red North Face hats.

And that is my main gear, which goes in my Peak Design Every Day Backpack.

When I go on a commercial shoot I take everything else I have with me just in case, in three bags and a toolbox. A spare Canon 5D, spare tripod, tripods, stands, flash, more cleaning gear, various tools to fix anything else.

Spare everything basically.

And various clamps, brackets and arms.

See - I do have all the paraphernalia, but it is a happy day I have to say when all I use is my backpack and a tripod.

And there is of course my iPhone and iPad which always go with me.

So back to the question.

How much photography gear is too much?

In my humble opinion it is too much

  • When the gear takes priority over taking photographs.
  • When the gear is a distraction.
  • When we spend more time on the gear than the photographs.

I have been using the same set up for a few years now, and know my photography gear so well I can assemble, disassemble, adjust, change, adapt in the dark. I do not need to be able to see my camera to know where everything is.

I do have the odd moment of course where I can’t find a button but most of the time it is instinctive.

And when you get to that point the gear is the tool you use to take the photographs. And when the gear is a tool that you use you can then concentrate on, wait for it

  • Taking photographs
  • Seeing what is around you
  • Enjoying yourself
  • Enjoying the environment

I love taking photographs, more so now than ever. In part because I have the freedom to enjoy where I am taking pictures, and do not need to worry about my gear. The scene comes first, and the tools I need to capture the scene are just that.

OK – rant over, but I hope you get the point.

Concentrate on making photographs.  And on enjoying making photographs.

Rick McEvoy Photography