Good shoes are more important than a good camera.

"More Zoom" is never the correct answer to any question.

Your phone is probably fine, but you can do better.

It's better to have the same brand of camera as the people around you in your life than to have whatever is momentarily latest and greatest.

If you're an aspiring Canon camera owner, it's important to know that "2.8L" is not a measure of volume.

Tripods aren't for everyone.

Simpler usually is better.

Spending money on new gear means getting less use from what you've already paid for.

One lens will do most of the work. A second lens will do most of the rest. A third lens will do very little at all.

Start simply and add complexity as necessary.

Extra batteries and memory cards are cheap.

Flip-out screens work.

Ken Rockwell is a troll. Never associate with a photographer who doesn't realize this.

Most Youtube photographers are no better.

Mirrorless cameras can be smaller, but they don't need to be.

Sensor size, not camera size, determines lens size. 

Factor in the price of a small fast prime when budgeting for a superzoom lens.

A 50mm prime is the original all-purpose lens.

Leave the bandolier camera straps to the Rambotographers.

There is no "best" equipment. Everything involves compromises.

The top of the camera is a terrible place for a light or a microphone.

Adding functions doesn't increase functionality.

A camera that you like more will be used more. A camera that is used more will take more photos. A camera that takes more photos will take better photos.

Dials should spin, buttons should click. Be suspicious of any camera design that conflates the two.

Untitled photo

What we now call "Full Frame" used to be called "Miniature Format". It has no special magic.

If the camera brand you use is the most important thing about your photography, stop.

Taping up the logos on your camera fools nobody.

"Zoom with your feet" is terrible advice. Lens perspective and camera position aren't interchangeable.

The difference between 200mm and 300mm isn't all that significant.

Small differences in focal length matter a lot at the wide end.

Wide lenses are never to be used to "get more in".

Golden Hour is over-rated and has been done.

Use burst mode when taking photos with slower shutter speeds. The second or third frame will often be sharper than the first.

Cover the terminals of your charged spare batteries with tape, folding one end under for easy removal. Painter's tape works best. Now it's obvious which batteries are fresh.

All tripods are annoying. More expensive ones are simply less annoying.

Corollary: using a tripod that costs more than your camera might be the smartest decision you can make.

Using a film camera occasionally is good for you.

There are no awards for having thin depth of field.

ISO and RAW are not acronyms, but "jpeg" is.

Custom shooting modes are a great place to keep your default settings.

Lens hoods are worth it and look cool, but when reversed the reverse is true.

Disable the autofocus beep and digital zoom on every camera you pick up, even if it isn't yours.

Change your settings every tenth photo.

There is no such thing as a "portrait lens" or "landcape lens". Any lens can be used for any subject.

Intentionally using "wrong" equipment often gives excellent results.

You are not a war photographer.

Zoom lenses have middle positions, too.

Always have a spare battery on the charger.

Most problems can be solved by the application of money.

Not all problems need to be solved.

Focus shift is not a defect. Accept it or move on.

Exercises designed to "prove" that The Camera Does/Doesn't Matter are a waste of time.

Untitled photo

It's not a neck strap, it's a shoulder strap, and sling the camera with the lens pointing inward.

A camera in hand is 60% more likely to be used than one that's slung by its strap, 85% more likely than one in a shoulder bag, and 98% more likely than one in a backpack.

"Cameras" and "Photos" are two different hobbies. Sometimes they overlap, and other times they don't. Both are okay.

We may see farther by standing on the shoulders of giants, but we won't create art by using their tripod-holes.

Long lenses usually produce good photos, while wide lenses easily create bad ones. But wide lenses have the facility for photographic greatness that long lenses lack.

Your camera doesn't create your photos: they are a result of who you are, where you are, and how you think. New equipment won't change that.

Different cameras and lenses may offer different possibilities that could be transformative.

There are fundamental differences between friends and corporations. Identify them and keep the two categories distinct.

Rotate to straighten the verticals after cropping, not just before.

Basic math is not a creative endeavour. Save the Manual mode for when it actually matters.

It's fine to date around with pixel-editing programs, but cataloging raw conversion software like Lightroom or Capture One won't show their strength until after you're married.

When travelling plan on taking photos the same way, and with the same gear, that you use at home. This isn't the time to establish a new habit.

Buying new equipment "for the trip" is always a bad idea.

Birds are horrible creatures, and should never be photographed. 

Bird seed is cheaper than a long lens.

Either become a ruthless editor or shoot film.

Cropping is perfectly acceptable.

Shoot colour references.

Having something in sharp focus will improve any photograph.

If everyone else is pointing their lens in the same direction, turn around.

Attaining technical skill is a starting point, not an ending.

Untitled photo

Photos of the important people in your life will be worth more to you in the future than any other photograph you can take.

Strive to spend as much time taking photos as talking about gear.

In any given situation there is always someone else who is at least as important as you are.

Go back in your archives to look at what you did at this time last year, or two years ago. What can you revisit? Where was the best light?

Being able to recognize a good photograph is a very important skill for a photographer to have.

Road trips are a photographic necessity. Take at least one per year.

Seeing what something truly looks like takes longer than being able to call it by name.

Being able to do anything isn't everything. Limitations are powerful.

People create art with equipment that I wouldn't buy from a garage sale.

Diversify your equipment, your influences, your thinking, and your friends.

Pay more attention to people who talk about photographs than to those who talk about cameras, and more to people who talk about art than to those who talk about photographs.

There is probably a cheaper alternative to buying new gear.

There are no effective alternatives to doing the work.

If you have bought more than two lenses in the past year then get the hell away from camera websites.

Bad weather makes things look interesting. Good weather does not.

Pay more attention to being a decent human being than to enforcing some concept of Photographers' Rights.

Finish what you start.

Photography is a solitary activity.

A vacation, new lawnmower, or a some extra time away from the day job may improve your photography more than buying a new camera or lens.

The best photos usually come after pushing past the feeling that the subjects' potential has been exhausted.

Put yourself in an interesting situation and see what happens.

Photography, like speech, needs to be more meaningful than the absence it replaces.

Untitled photo

Taking lots of photos may not lead directly to improvement, but it has a better chance than not taking them.

Making money as a photographer depends far more on business skills than camera skills.

If camera-geeks are the intended audience for your photos, then you're doing something wrong.

The more the people who are doing what you do look and sound like you, the dumber it probably is.

Online jpegs are a lousy way to evaluate, or appreciate, photographs.

If the first comments about a photo are on its technical merits, it's a miss.

Other photographers aren't your 'competition'. Be welcoming and generous.

Don't be insular. Watch movies, study advertising, read poems.

Outside of France "Giclée" is spelt "Inkjet".

If at a loss for something to say about a photo, use the word "juxtaposition" in a sentence.

"Interstitial" also works.

Bring the camera to your passions.

Photograph what fascinates you, engages you, challenges you, or enrages you.

Captions, titles, and descriptions are also part of photography.

Work in series, create projects, have themes.

Good photos can come from being annoyed.

The creative process extends right up until the work is presented in its final form.

Learn from critics, but stop being motivated by what other people think, good or bad.

Exhibit a statistically insignificant percentage of the photos you take.

Find a font that makes your name look good and stick with it.

Artists statements need to be concise, powerful, and about the work. A viewer's attention is precious. Don't waste it.

Make at least three excellent prints each year.

Pay attention to quiet voices and give them space to be heard.

Have an opinion about your subject and express it within your photos.

Don't expect applause.

Start something that will take a year to complete.

Finish it.

Untitled photo

you can learn even more if you hire matthew.

originally posted january 2014.

last updated February 2019.