1. Your cellphone photos are totally legit.
Maria Bentley is an accomplished destination wedding photographer, traveling the world with her husband Nick. She also has a background in fashion photography and made a name for herself as the winner of VH1’s The Shot, which is basically America’s Next Top Model for photographers. But her first steps toward becoming a professional photographer started with a cellphone.
2. Don’t over-complicate things.
Maria’s advice for taking a good photo is all about breaking rules.
3. Use the tools that are right for you.
Maria has favorite tools, but she says regardless of which tools you use, success is all about knowing how to use them.
4. Practice and persist.
Music photographer Anna Larina shoots live shows and musician portraits in LA. She’s been documenting live music for almost ten years and attributes her skill to practice (“though I like to think it’s also an inherent talent,” she adds).
5. Take the photo no one else is taking.
Anna says the key to taking a good photo is to strive for something unique.
6. It’s okay to shoot with that expired film that’s sitting in your fridge.
Anna has a whole set-up full of preferred cameras, lenses, and film—but she’s not afraid to try something different.
7. Shoot what you’re passionate about.
Wedding and editorial photographer Julia Arielle Cox photographs “women of all shapes, sizes, ages and talents,” whether they’re musicians, brides, and/or mothers. She says taking a great photo requires passion.
8. Take inspiration from collaboration.
Julia draws energy from the people she works with.
9. Give yourself options.
Julia has multiple cameras and shoots both digitally and with film.
10. Keep learning and trying new things.
Emily O’Brien takes beautiful shots of babies, families, nature, and architecture. She says that expertise is all about continuing to learn and grow as a photographer.
11. Take your time.
Emily’s tip for taking a good photo is to take the time to do it right.
12. Your gear should be comfortable.
Sometimes cameras are heavy—and it’s tough to do good work when you’re in pain.
13. If you want to get into photography, don’t let anyone stop you.
When Emily first started taking photos, she says a well-respected teacher told her she’d never make it. “I figured a challenge like that is always a good reason to succeed,” she says.