Hello,This is me!

Diana Vilic

Blogger Visual Marketing Student Photographer Coffee Addict

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

To the new photographer

  • 8:49:00 PM
  • by

First off, let's just start off and say hi! I'm so glad you found this great hobby. It's a lot of fun and it can become a great profession (but only in time). I hope you stick with it, and I hope you find it as rewarding as I and many do.

I'm not sure if I can even classify myself as "new" after three years. Clearly, I'm not as experienced as some, or even most. But I'm at that awkward spot between newbie and getting there. Here's what I would have told myself when I first started.

Learn, Learn, and oh my goodness LEARN

The first thing I'd have to advise you of is constantly learn, keep learning.

  • Study the work of photographers who came way before you. I'm talking Arbus, Adams, Jarvis...ect. Study it all.
  • Watch photographers on youtube who talk about their craft.
  • Learn other art forms. Yep, you're going to have to learn the basics of painting and color theory, even though you'll probably never pick up a brush in your life.
  • Learn from non-artistic people. No, not because they might be your clients, but because they have so much to teach you. Listen to lectures given by people who excel in business, science and math. I promise you, you will pick up some knowledge, even if it's how to treat people.
  • You are never in 100 years, above learning. 
  • CreativeLive is your best friend. Use it.

Artists grow.

Just that, artists grow. We constantly change our style and our work. Don't ever, and I mean this, think you're above anyone else because your work is "so original". Newsflash, nothing is original. We all take inspiration from the things that inspire us.

Technology changes

Technology may change, but guess what? The art doesn't. Learn the new technology, but don't act like you're above anyone because you have the newest version of adobe suite or you have the fastest flash out there. Your job is still to capture a moment and share your vision.

People are gonna call you a "hack"

The one thing I would tell myself, is guess what? You probably are...at this point. When you're learning, it's a fake it til you make it mentality. You make up everything as you go. So yes, my dear self, although you will never want to admit it, your first year as an artist (maybe even long after) you are a hack. There's nothing wrong with that.

Don't ever ever ever do this

I'm one of the photographers who can say I never had this mentality (yet). Never act like you were thrown a party when you didn't even receive an invitation. Simply put, you can't act like you're giant when you're just starting. You're new. You probably still don't have an understanding of aperture and sensors. I cannot stress how okay that is at this point. But you can't walk into a room and expect anything, because you haven't built your reputation yet.

At the same point, just because you have a large amount of clients, that doesn't mean you made it. When I started photography, I had every weekend for a year booked with either personal shoots or client ones. You know why I had that many clients? Because I charged $50 or less for all of my images for most of that time. Sometimes, and I hate to say it, your price point is the winner. Sometimes, it's because you know a lot of people, and they want to support your dreams out of the kindness of their hearts. Once again, absolutely nothing is wrong with that. But, it's not a measure of how great of an artist you are.

Your work is the only great measure of  your skill. Not how many clients you have, how big your social following is, or what sensor your camera has.

The starving artist thing

Doesn't exist. Scrap the whole idea. Nothing is romantic about quitting your job, dropping out of school or doing whatever, all to sit in a dark room and develop photos. Now that being said, hustle is very romantic. It's okay to focus your energy on your art, but don't, please don't, just sit there and expect it to happen. Go out and make it happen.

You can be more

For the first few years, this was so hard for me to grasp. I can be more than just an artist. If you want to focus on school and be an artist on the side, you can do that. You don't ever have to define yourself to one position. Barbie was 100 different things, whose to say that you can't be 200 different things? Following other passions, does not make you a sell out or any less of an artist.

Read the camera manual

Front and back, know it in every language, memorize the diagrams. I promise this will save your butt in many photoshoots.

Practice every day

Your phone is just as good as your dslr. I'm not saying go do the 365 day challenge.  But, you have to eat, breath, and sleep photography. You have to be consumed by your passion, or it's just not going to work out in your favor. This doesn't always mean taking a photo everyday or even talking about photography everyday. But practice seeing moments, think of shoot ideas, connect with potential clients. Do whatever you must do to keep the enthusiasm alive. It can and will die quickly.

Listen to other photographers, especially if they made it

Zack Arias and all he does is pretty much your best friend when you're at any point in photography. I have a giant list of photographers (that's constantly growing) who everything they say is as good as gold. They've been there, they're doing it, and just like you, they started knowing absolutely nothing. It's a myth that photographers don't want to see other photographers grow. That's absolutely not true.

Go ahead, tweet, email, facebook, connect in some way, to your favorite photographer. If they don't respond then oh well. But more times than none (take this from personal experience), they will offer some insight or get back to you in some way.
  • “The most truly successful photographers I’ve ever met are bleary eyed, drive old cars that need new tires, and have holes in their shoes. Some of the finest, most bad ass photographers working a camera today aren’t even on twitter. They don’t have a blog following. They’re busy with a camera and they’re chasing the light. Not the following. Not the car. Not the fame. Not the new product to flip and sell to all of us. If they are writing a book their pen is a lens and their ink is light. You want to aspire to something? Aspire to that.” - Zack Arias
  • “Allow yourself the freedom to step away from perfection because it is only then that you can find success.” -Chase Jarvis
  • “Everything that is done in the taking and developing of an image is processing or manipulating of some kind. Exposure, camera settings, lens choice, development of film, printing and computer work are all forms of processing. So I get a kick out of some people who call themselves “purists” and say that they donʼt use photoshop because itʼs cheating. To me they are just too lazy to learn how to use all the wonderful tools that we now have at our disposal. This is a golden age of photography and Iʼm loving it.” – Ken Kaminesky
  • “If you want to learn something–anything–your determination to see past things you don’t have will set you apart. Don’t let the shortage of physical accoutrements or fancy diplomas get in the way of your dream. If you want something bad enough, you won’t be above dumpster diving for it.” – Jasmine Star
  • “No matter how much crap you gotta plow through to stay alive as a photographer, no matter how many bad assignments, bad days, bad clients, snotty subjects, obnoxious handlers, wigged-out art directors, technical disasters, failures of the mind, body, and will, all the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas that befuddle our brains and creep into our dreams, always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It’s the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.” – Joe McNally
  • “Try to explore different directions before you decide on a style because as soon as you start showing your work to art directors, agents, and clients, they’re going to remember you for what you sent to them…” – Lara Jade

Go to the top

I'm referring to this CreativeLive video. There is no ladder you have to climb to be successful. If you want clients who respect your work go and get them. The same goes for models and any other talent. If you want to be respected, you have to demand it. That being said, yes your work has to say, "I deserve respect", but once you get to the level where your work can stand on its own. Go and get the opportunities you are dreaming of. There are no steps you are required to take to get there. Go ahead go straight to the goal.

Be Unique

Notice I have a blog instead of the traditional portfolio site, I use EyeEm, Twitter and Instagram to share my work, instead of just Facebook. And I'll admit I don't know everything. I used to have a portfolio with three categories and my top 10 images in each. Everytime I asked a client if they've visited it, not a single one said they did. I was clearly wasting my money on something I didn't even enjoy maintaining. A portfolio website, although may be the traditional route, it wasn't personal and I couldn't really share it to the world every day, like I can a blog. Now, does that mean I'll never get a portfolio site again or add one onto the blog? Of course not, I'm still deciding my route as an artist. But, I also decided I want to cater my work to the 95% of the people who see it, not just the 5% I'm hoping will one day see it.


It's hard to be an artist. I think I've said it in every photography post so far. But, it's hard. It's also worth it, beyond belief. 

Dear my past self, this will be the most frustrating experience in your life. You will have clients you adore and clients who you'd prefer to never shoot  with again. You will spend so many nights editing, fueled by coffee, only to start crying because the images didn't look the way you thought they would in your head. Then you'll then research for two nights in a row, how to never make that mistake again. You'll reshoot and cry and reshoot and cry again, until something is a little better, so you show it off. You currently have a hard drive of images never seen before, notebooks full of notes that you bring with you to every photoshoot, just in case you forget a pose. You'll be frustrated seeing other photographers get clients you deserve, but at the same time, so proud of them because they're getting successful.You'll go from periods of landscape photography, to iphoneography, to conceptual, even though portrait photography is and always will be your one true love.

Welcome to being an artist, it's the best thing in the world. Even though you didn't sign up for it, and your life may be easier if you weren't one. Afterall, you never asked to be a photographer, but you love the gift you received. You don't know why, but you'll fight to stay relevant as a photographer and  you'll fight to keep the passion alive.

But, you will also take long long breaks, because sometimes it got too much and you needed to clear your head. It will feel like torture to the mind and you will never stop seeing, in fact, you will start seeing more and more and everything around you will command to be photographed. You will cheat your photography hiatus with your iphone camera and a Rolli. Which isn't much of a loophole, but you have to stay alive as an artist.

Being a photographer is the best adventure you will ever be gifted. It's work, but everything you love is work. You will make clients feel beautiful, when you feel like quitting, that alone will motivate you to continue. You are powerful, with and without a camera. But lets be honest, although life is wonderful in front of the camera, laughing and creating moments. For you, nothing will ever beat being the one to document moments. A picture is worth a thousand words, you are just starting to write your novel.

Marketing student with a focus in visual marketing with a addiction to coffee.


  1. This was a great post! I love taking pictures, but I've barely scratched the surface on learning about how to use my camera to best capture the image. I love that quote from Kaminesky about purists, it makes me want to learn so I'll never use that excuse!!


  2. thank you for sharing your tips and encouragement. your photos are beautiful and a lovely example for us all!

    love, liz

  3. Your photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing your tips dear! Kisses <3


  4. great tips for someone just starting out. I agree with "always learn". Even if I'm just taking pics for my blog, there is always room for improvement :) Thanks for sharing your experience, big fan of your work! :)

    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  5. Gorgeous pictures and thanks for these useful tips!


  6. Such a good post with some really good tips on here! So important to just learn and inspire from everyone and everything around you


  7. Wow, such a great post! It's marvellous being an artist, that's right, but it comes with many pros and cons - though I see more pros :) I loved the tone of the article, dealing with it with a "humble" atmosphere - you are never over about learning, I agree with it! I should pass this article to some "friends" who think they are super photographers, but then they are too full of themselves to admire your words, unfortunately. I mean, they are good photographers, and even great - who am I to judge, but their approach is that "I am the best, don't need learning anything" and I like better your approach!

  8. I really enjoyed this! I'm not a photographer but I work in other mediums. I never wanted to make it a career but I enjoy it as a hobby and I take my hat off to those that make a career out of it. I personally prefer for my work to be more private and wouldn't want to involve third parties like a boss or a client in it.

    Also I 100% agree that your style will always evolve and change. You'll also just fake it until you find out what works.


  9. Really love this post ! xo
    Can we follow eachother ? Let me know on my blog and I will follow back immediately xo

    BLOG | GorisHelena

  10. I love reading this post. Thank you for the tips you shared. It would really be helpful to new photographers.
    ❤ A Beauty Bella

  11. Such a fantastic post and love how you share your thoughts on how to become successful! Definitely can relate, thanks for sharing!


  12. LOVE THIS POST! I am new to blogging and photography, but I'm very passionate about it and has been following a lot of your advice listed. Thanks for sharing!

    xoxo Emily

  13. Thank you so much for this post! I started getting into photography as a way of improving my blog and I'm always looking for ways to improve! These are such great tips, thank you thank you! <3

    xx Bash | Bash Says Hey | bloglovin'

  14. wow great post

    Posts online about Dubai, Jesolo, Buenos Aires...

  15. Great tips! kiss kiss


  16. I mostly want to explore film, but these tips are still just as useful, definitely taking notes.
    Thanks for the lovely comment btw


  17. I mostly want to explore film, but these tips are still just as useful, definitely taking notes.
    Thanks for the lovely comment btw



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