10 Traits of a Good Photographer

Cattle Egret Photograph by Scott Bourne

While this list isn’t exhaustive, if you can find your way to most of these traits, you’re well on your way to becoming a good photographer.

1. You need passion. You need to be obsessed with getting the shot. Not just any shot – THE shot. In other words – you need to think about, dream about, talk about and live photography.

2. You need to be dedicated to the craft of photography. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert. It means you need to be dedicated to BECOMING an expert. No matter how long it takes.

3. You need to be a story teller. Story telling is at the heart of good photography, accordingly, good photographers need to be able to tell stories with their cameras.

4. You need to care about your subject. You need to be a subject-matter expert, wether it’s birds or people or cars or waterfalls. Good photographers learn all there is to know about their subjects BEFORE they pick up a camera. Always photograph your subject as if it is the only way it will be remembered throughout all time.

5. You need patience and lots of it. You need to be willing to practice and study often. You need to be willing to search out or wait out the light. You need to be able to sit in a blind waiting for that next bird or sit on the corner waiting for that next perfect subject. And you need to be willing to invest hours, not minutes in those pursuits.

6. You need a sense of wonder and imagination. You need to be curious about everything you photograph and then you need to be able to play with that curiosity to see what you can come up with.

7. You need to share. You need to be willing to pass on what you learn willingly to others. You need to show your photos to everyone. You need to protect and preserve for others all your important photographic memories.

8. You need to be the kind of photographer who makes OTHER people want to become a photographer.

9. You need to try a little bit harder than the next guy. The good photographers wait an extra 15 minutes for that perfect sunset color. They study their manual at night even when they are tired. They spend money they don’t have to attend workshops and buy books on photography. They go the extra mile…and then they do it again.

10. You need to develop a recognizable style – even if that style is – no style!


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