100 Things I Have Learned About Photography

Written: 10-14-09

A list that I wrote while traveling in Europe about 100 tips/things I have learned about photography that I would like to share with others:

1. Just because someone has an expensive camera doesn’t mean that they’re a good photographer.
2. Always shoot in RAW. Always.
3. Prime lenses help you learn to be a better photographer.
4. Photo editing is an art in itself
5. The rule of thirds works 99% of the time.
6. Macro photography isn’t for everybody.
7. UV filters work just as well as lens caps.
8. Go outside and shoot photos rather than spending hours a day on photography forums.
9. Capture the beauty in the mundane and you have a winning photograph.
10. Film isn’t better than digital.
11. Digital isn’t better than film.
12. There is no “magic” camera or lens.
13. Better lenses don’t give you better photos.
14. Spend less time looking at other people’s work and more time shooting your own.
15. Don’t take your DSLR to parties.
16. Girls dig photographers.
17. Making your photos b/w doesn’t automatically make them “artsy”
18. People will always discredit your work if you tell them you “photoshop” your images. Rather, tell them that you process them in the “digital darkroom”.
19. You don’t need to take a photo of everything.
20. Have at least 2 backups of all your images. Like they say in war, two is one, one is none.
21. Ditch the neck strap and get a handstrap.
22. Get closer when taking your photos, they often turn out better.
23. Be a part of a scene while taking a photo; not a voyeur.
24. Taking a photo crouched often make your photos look more interesting.
25. Worry less about technical aspects and focus more on compositional aspects of photography.
26. Tape up any logos on your camera with black gaffers tape- it brings a lot less attention to you.
27. Always underexpose by 2/3rds of a stop when shooting in broad daylight.
28. The more photos you take, the better you get.
29. Don’t be afraid to take several photos of the same scene at different exposures, angles, or apertures.
30. Only show your best photos.
31. A point-and-shoot is still a camera.
32. Join an online photography forum.
33. Critique the works of others.
34. Think before you shoot.
35. A good photo shouldn’t require explanation (although background information often adds to an image). *
36. Alcohol and photography do not mix well.
37. Draw inspiration from other photographers but never worship them.
38. Grain is beautiful.
39. Ditch the photo backpack and get a messenger bag. It makes getting your lenses and camera a whole lot easier.
40. Simplicity is key.
41. The definition of photography is: “painting with light.” Use light in your favor.
42. Find your style of photography and stick with it.
43. Having a second monitor is the best thing ever for photo processing.
44. Silver EFEX pro is the best b/w converter.
45. Carry your camera with you everywhere. Everywhere.
46. Never let photography get in the way of enjoying life.
47. Don’t pamper your camera. Use and abuse it.
48. Take straight photos.
49. Shoot with confidence.
50. Photography and juxtaposition are best friends.
51. Print out your photos big. They will make you happy.
52. Give your photos to friends.
53. Give them to strangers.
54. Don’t forget to frame them.
55. Costco prints are cheap and look great.
56. Go out and take photos with (a) friend(s).
57. Join a photo club or start one for yourself.
58. Photos make great presents.
59. Taking photos of strangers is thrilling.
60. Candid>Posed.
61. Natural light is the best light.
62. 35mm (on full frame) is the best “walk-around” focal length.
63. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO when necessary.
64. You don’t need to always bring a tripod with you everywhere you go (hell, I don’t even own one).
65. It is always better to underexpose than overexpose.
66. Shooting photos of homeless people in an attempt to be “artsy” is exploitation.
67. You will find the best photo opportunities in the least likely situations.
68. Photos are always more interesting with the human element included.
69. You can’t “photoshop” bad images into good ones.
70. Nowadays everybody is a photographer.
71. You don’t need to fly to Paris to get good photos; the best photo opportunities are in your backyard.
72. People with DSLRS who shoot portraits with their grip pointed downwards look like morons.
73. Cameras as tools, not toys.
74. In terms of composition, photography and painting aren’t much different.
75. Photography isn’t a hobby- it’s a lifestyle.
76. Make photos, not excuses.
77. Be original in your photography. Don’t try to copy the style of others.
78. The best photographs tell stories that begs the viewer for more.
79. Any cameras but black ones draw too much attention.
80. The more gear you carry around with you the less you will enjoy photography.
81. Good self-portraits are harder to take than they seem.
82. Laughter always draws out peoples’ true character in a photograph.
83. Don’t look suspicious when taking photos- blend in with the environment.
84. Landscape photography can become dull after a while.
85. Have fun while taking photos.
86. Never delete any of your photos.
87. Be respectful when taking photos of people or places.
88. When taking candid photos of people in the street, it is easier to use a wide-angle than a telephoto lens.
89. Travel and photography are the perfect pair.
90. Learn how to read a histogram.
91. A noisy photo is better than a blurry one.
92. Don’t be afraid to take photos in the rain.
93. Learn how to enjoy the moment, rather than relentlessly trying to capture the perfect picture of it.
94. Never take photos on an empty stomach.
95. You will discover a lot about yourself through your photography.
96. Never hoard your photographic insight- share it with the world.
97. Never stop taking photos
98. Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life
99. Capture the decisive moment
100. Write your own list.


The importance of sleep

Today we live in a very sleep-deprived society. Sleep is often pushed to the side in favor of “getting things done” and we often stay up all night finishing studying or working. It almost seems that nowadays sleep is seen as optional rather than a necessity.

I definitely know in the college scene, sleeping more than 6 hours a night is unheard of. When people hear that I sleep about 8 hours a night, they often look at me with suspicion and confusion. They ask me “how do you get so much sleep a night?” or “how do you get enough time to get things done?”

Often times people believe that you can only get sleep if you aren’t busy. But I am just as busy as any other student by working 20 hours a week, being active in my Korean Catholic fellowship, teaching Sunday School to High School students, exercising regularly, taking photographs, writing, while taking 4 classes.

So how do I find enough time to get everything yet still average 8 hours a night? Easy. I make sleep a priority in my life.

When I get enough sleep, I am more energetic, productive, and happy. I wake up feeling full of energy and ready to seize the day. And when I have to study or get things done, my brain is fresh and ready to get work done. On the other hand, when I am tired I can’t get anything done. The entire day I feel miserable and when I try to study nothing absorbs.

I often hear my peers having to stay up late or pull all-nighters to finish their assignments. I understand that sometimes unexpected things occur in which we have no choice but to pull an all-nighter, but the majority of the time we are just wasting time when we stay up like chatting or being on facebook.

When we are sleep-deprived the work that we can do when we are well-rested in an hour can take twice or even three times that long. Sometimes when we are sleep-deprived, we can’t absorb any information at all.

We also feel miserable when we don’t get enough sleep. How can we enjoy life when we constantly feel fatigued and like we’re going to fall asleep?

Some easy ways to get more sleep:

1. Reprioritize your life

What is truly important in your life? Anything that isn’t, cut it out. I used to love playing computer games and would stay up all night playing them but I get so much more sleep after I have cut that bad habit.

2. Exercise regularly

I know a lot of you guys out there have insomnia and feel restless when you get to bed. Regular exercise can cure that problem. By getting good workouts daily, we expend all that extra energy we have cooped up in our bodies which tires us out when it is time to sleep at night. It can also make us happier, because when we exercise our body release natural endorphins which make our body feel good

3. Set a regular sleeping schedule

We can’t expect to get regular sleep if we sleep at 10pm one night and at 3:00am the next. Set a certain time for going to sleep (mine is 11pm) and try to get to bed 30 minutes before. So when I see the clock at 10:30PM I shut off my computer, brush my teeth, and hit the sack. By having a regular sleep schedule, our bodies will know when to go to sleep and will thus become naturally tired at that certain time.

4. Make sleep a priority

I said this is my secret to getting enough sleep and it could be yours too. Realize that you can’t just put off sleep and expect that your body is going to be okay. Try to get all your work done early, so you can get enough sleep at night. Realize how much more productive and happy you are when you get enough sleep, which will compell you to get more sleep.

5. Look forward to the next day

Whenever I go to sleep, I am always excited for the next day. The feeling of waking up to the sun, getting my morning workout and the refreshing shower afterwards. I look forward to the people that I am going to see the next day and the new experiences I am going to encounter. When you thrive off life, going to sleep early will help the next day come sooner.

So hopefully these tips help out! So don’t stay up on Facebook all night stalking that one cute girl you met at the party or watching those Gossip Girl reruns. Go to your beds, they are calling for you.