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  • Writer's picturePaul

Five Ways To Become A Terrible Photographer



So you want to be a great photographer. Why?


The world is already bursting with great photographers. Just look at Instagram or Threads. (Forget X, that cesspool of outrage politics, extreme opinions and OnlyFans ads.) Can you really compete with what you see there? I doubt it.


Instead of beating your head against the wall trying to be great, become a terrible photographer instead. It’s very freeing.


Here are five tips on becoming a terrible photographer:


1. Sleep In — One of the first pieces of advice you’ll receive as a photographer is to shoot during golden hour. That’s the time just before and after sunrise or sunset. The light turns soft and warm during golden hour and your subjects become more attractive. The morning golden hour is especially nice, with clear, cool air and light winds.


But really, who wants to get up early in the morning to catch golden hour? If you’re shooting portraits, there’s no way your models will want to get up in the dark and prepare themselves for a shoot. If you’re a landscape photographer, do you really want to wake up in the middle of the night, drive several hours, hike in the dark and catch the sunrise?


Better to stay in bed, get some good, healthy sleep, then shoot during the middle of the day when the light is harsh and your subjects look washed out and sickly. Think of it as a bold new aesthetic.


2. Use Bad Gear — Big-time photographers are always saying gear doesn’t matter. They say you can take great photos with old, broken or even Pentax cameras. They’d never actually do it, of course. They use only the latest and greatest gear, usually provided at a massive discount by their favourite camera brand.


You can’t do that. Gear is too expensive. Shoot with old cameras that can barely autofocus. Buy used lenses filled with fungus and condensation — they create interesting effects that great photographers will never achieve. And remember, when people say you should invest in photography gear they just mean you should spend money you don’t have.


3. Don’t Shoot In Raw Format — Shooting in raw format instead of jpeg format gives you maximum latitude to process your photos. You can change the white balance, recover blown out areas and reveal details in the shadows.


What a waste of time. Just shoot in jpeg format. That way your camera decides how to process your image and bakes the results into your photos. You might have a little latitude to edit the photos, but not much. As a bonus, your photos are available seconds after you take them and the files are much smaller than raw images.


4. Don’t Learn Post-Processing — Most photographers process their photos using programs like Lightroom, Photoshop or Capture One. They sit in front of computers for hours editing raw images, making them perfect and outstanding and attractive. They emphasize certain areas of their photos, minimize other areas, change contrast, add or remove vignettes, mask areas, combine exposures to capture wider dynamic range and on and on and on.


It’s exhausting.


Why bother? You’re already shooting in jpeg format, so just set your camera to full program mode, choose a profile in your camera (like Vivid or Mono) and let it do the work. Store your photos in Apple Photos or Google Photos and upload them to social media with no edits. You can use the time you save to rearrange your sock drawer.


5. Forget The Rules of Composition — Rules, schmules (“schmules” isn’t in the dictionary, but it should be). Doesn’t everyone say rules are meant to be broken? Yet great photographers are always talking about rules: the rule of thirds, leading lines, filling your frame with your subject, keeping your horizon straight…blah, blah, blah. Rules are for fools.


Sure, following composition rules can help make your photos better. But who can remember all that when they’re taking photos? It’s like trying to putt while thinking about integral calculus. An empty mind is an efficient mind.


My advice? Just point and shoot. And be happy with whatever you get.


If you follow these five suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a terrible photographer. But if you still want to be a great photographer…just do the opposite of what I’ve recommended.

You’re welcome.

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