The Twelve Disciplines

These disciplines are key tips developed from many years in the field, leading workshops and what I’ve observed and learnt from helping learners make the leap from enthusiastic snaps to inspired photography. This comes from over many years and hundreds of students. They’re also based on many interviews with great photographers I’ve conducted over the years.

These – my top key tips – are as close to ‘rules’ as you will ever hear from me. While rules aim to control, disciplines aim to release and enable freedom of creation. There is no great photographer I’ve ever met who did not heed at least half — if not everyone — of these points.

While they can’t be promised to guarantee success if you do nothing else (or read no further), I strongly advise that you keep all of these disciplines – and the thinking behind them – in mind. Better still, post them above your bed, the better to turn them into action:

  1. Stay fit, healthy and awake: photography demands all your faculties working  top notch.
  2. Keep the camera in your hand; it keeps photography on the brain.
  3. The harder you work, the luckier you will be.
  4. Go the extra yard: all good vantage points are where no-one else goes.
  5. If in doubt, press that button; you cannot go back.
  6. See the picture in your mind before you see the shot.
  7. Get closer to people: if you are comfortable, you are too far away.
  8. Let instinct and feeling guide composition: frame as you feel, feel as you frame (and do forget the ‘rules’).
  9. Chimping is for chumps: check image previews only during breaks and rest periods.
  10. Attend to the background before attending to the subject.
  11. Watch, workship and love light: work with what’s available; don’t fight light. All light is good light.
  12. Love, respect and preserve your subjects: you owe it to them … and you may want to come back one day.

(Extract from Travel Photographer’s Handbook 3rd ed PDF edition iBook edition)

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