Today, I received an email from a young aspiring photographer. In this email she asked a question that I have been asked multiple times in the past, however I have never felt that I was ready or 'at the level I thought I should be at' in order to answer. She asked, "As a seasoned photographer, what is the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?" 

Well... If I can be honest with you all... I 150% do not consider myself a seasoned photographer & probably never will. I feel this is because, when you are so undyingly passionate about what you do, about your craft, you will never truly feel that you are at your highest peak, or that you are the best, or that you have learned all you have to learn. It's when you come to terms with this, that you will never feel complete or completely satisfied with your work, stop comparing yourself to others and really buckle down and shoot, really just for the love of doing it, that you will grow and feel that you are truly on the right path. In the past year or so, I have found a way to drown out the negativity and doubt that pops into all of our heads as an artist and that now gives me courage to finally answer this question for those of you I have not answered in the past. That being said.. 

Instead of 1, I will give you 3. 

First piece of advice to those of you just entering this beautiful, wild crazy world of photography!

1. What we touched base on.. Self doubt. We all have it, but learn to channel it.  When I first started out I jumped right into a ton of photography groups! While this can be so beneficial to the learning photographer, it can also be extremely intimidating throwing yourself into a group of photographers who have been at it for years or that most likely have cameras that are a few + steps of above yours. Studying their work can and will make you doubt yourself, and your equipment! DON'T! Those photographers have been in your shoes and have started right where you are! Let it give you hope! My advice? Pick out one or two supportive groups, a group thats rules allow you to ask questions and allow for CC (constructive criticism) Not just a brag group, where photogs post crazy amazing photos for brags because they are proud! (which is awesome for them and they should be proud and brag, but those photos will get inside of your head and tell you, you will never be that good & Im here to tell you, you will & you can, by concentrating more on improvement rather than comparisons.) :DD

2. In the beginning.. Shoot EVERYTHING! Shoot living and nonliving, moving and still life, families, couples, animals, children, maternity, portraits in general, lifestyle.. etc! You name it.. SHOOT it, and more than once. Narrow down what you truly love to shoot, what inspires you and what you feel you are most in your element with & focus on it! Specialize in what makes you excited to go to your sessions. 

3. This, in my opinion is the most important advice I could give to a photographer who is starting out. As you practice, whether you're photographing your dog, your parents, siblings, your own children. I STRONGLY URGE you to save everything. and I mean SAVE everything. Here is why! Today, after I received this question it got me thinking, where was I when I first started out.. I was so horrible.. half my photos were underexposed or overexposed, blurred, not sharp enough, nothing was ever perfect & I would disregard almost every photo I took, thinking they are unsalvageable. Ok.. so maybe they aren't going to win any awards however, these same photos are going to help you in realizing how far you have come over the years, and what leaps and bounds you have made. Getting things perfect in camera is awesome, but when you have learned a few tips and tricks in post processing these photos that seemed obsolete before, can be transformed into something that you will cherish forever.  

Today inspired me to go back to photos I took with my old old camera 2 upgrades ago! (A FEW PHOTOS POSTED BELOW!! This was not a full frame camera (Nikon D7100). These 4 photos were taken in 2014, they were tossed to the side, never edited, touched , I honestly didn't even look in their direction because I felt they were complete garbage. Today, I went back and revisited these same photos and re-edited them. Are they perfect? No, not by a long shot. But Thank God I saved them. My son is now 4 and these are REAL moments from his childhood, that would've been thrown away because of self doubt. They are perfectly imperfect & that is ok with me! 

& an extra credit round! When in doubt, youtube it! Youtube has a TON of informational tutorials and videos that will take you step by step on specific areas you may want to learn more about, whether its in camera shooting or post processing! 

Ok! Thats all I got for you today folks! I hope that was helpful! Please feel free to pick my brain or ask questions anytime! I am always rooting for you & I love to see other photographers support each other and thrive! 

xox, Amanda

Amanda Schmidt