Want to become a better photographer?

Do you want to improve your photography? I think we all want to be better at what we enjoy doing.

It’s been years. Ages it seems since I enrolled in photography school and started my career in photography.  In that time, I’ve exposed thousands of rolls of film. I’ve photographed everything from models on their very first editorial assignment to having Sophia Loren in front of my camera taking direction from me.

Without exaggerating, over the years, I’ve had millions of people view my photos and I still have the desire to become a better photographer.

A better photographer is not one who receives critical acclaim or commercial success. It’s not about winning a contest. Those are all measures of how others judge your photography.

I’ve seen so many talented photographers get caught in the trap of shooting for others. Shoot for others and you lose what makes your vision unique.

You may be the kind of person who craves a pat on the back for a photograph or someone who thinks they’ve done a great job when they get a few thousand views on Flickr. The best analogy I have to that is the dog who is chasing his tail. He’s going really fast but he’s going nowhere.

I like what Getty Images is doing on Flickr. They’re very smart when it comes to the business of stock photography. In choosing images from amateurs, they’ve broken out of the mold that a lot of stock photographers have become comfortable in. Landscape photography or for that matter, any kind of photography can be formulaic.

The really successful photographers to me are the ones who can come up with a strong image of a familiar scene but in a completely different way. Become the trailblazer not the follower. Is that genetically programmed into us? 99% of us are meant to be the sheep and the other 1% the goat whom everyone follows?

I was on a well known nature photographers website. More and more photos in are looking the same. They’re done by different people in different parts of the states but to see the images, they all look like they were done by one person. A wonderful compliment to the photographer they are copying. It says lots about his work and less about their creativity.

I now design for a living. The most difficult part of design as in photography isn’t the execution, it’s the creation. To have that genius spark to set yourself apart from the crowd is valuable. It’s also rare.

We are a generation of followers. Sign up for my workshop and learn to shoot like me. Take my online course and your photographs will look indistinguishable from mine.

The world doesn’t need a carbon copy clone of photographer X.

Work at being different. Cherish being different. Don’t hang on every word of praise or criticism that comes your way. Be stubborn about your art but also have an open mind.

Be a leader and not a follower. That’s how you’ll become a better photographer.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on August 22, 2010.

4 Responses to “Want to become a better photographer?”

  1. Hi Dan,

    You are 100% correct.

    It takes courage to lead.


  2. Dan, you simply nailed it! Big time at that I might add!

  3. I know exactly what you mean! Even though I am extremely new at this, I have already seen many blogs and websites that basically are all about when you mention here. I almost immediately go to something else, because I’m not looking to copy anyone else, just to find new ways to inspire myself!

  4. @ Holly Whether you’re a beginner or have been shooting for many years, inspiration is something we all need.

    I am always looking to see who has photographed the familiar in a different way. Like you, I don’t want to be asked to buy over and over and over again.

    Thanks for visiting.

    @ David Those who lead always risk being unpopular. To be different is more valuable to me than popularity.

    @ John/kkart, TY :)

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