8 Things to Inspire You to Keep Shooting & Sharing Your Photography

Aug 5 2010

Barry the Cowboy & Jesse the horse

I shot this image of a silhouetted cowboy and a horse at sunset over a year ago. At the time thought is was kind of cool, so I shared it on Flickr. A year later, I received an email from Penguin saying they’d found my image on Flickr and would like to use it for the cover of a new book! Yesterday, a cheque in the mail arrived. It’s my very first book cover!

What shocked me was that somebody actually paid me real money for a experimental shot that I took for fun and for free. I wanted to share this story with you because it really hammered home some really important points about the nature of the photography business in this new digital and social age and all the things that are possible for someone with no training, little money, and a strong passion for taking great photos.

  1. You can get great shots with any camera: I shot this with my trusty Canon Rebel Xti (400D) with a basic kit lens. The quality was good enough to print. Never let your gear limit you, instead learn to master what you’ve got and try to the best possible images you can.
  2. Even iPhone shots are good enough to print: We are seeing more and more publications accept images shot with an iPhone. The most recent MacWorld Cover was shot with an iPhone 4. F-Stoppers shot an entire fashion shoot with a 3GS. Additionally, when I was reporting on the 2010 Olympics for the Vancouver newspaper, The Province, they posted an iPhone 3G photo taken of me and a very large fry on the front page of the paper. They continued to use my iPhone shots in the paper many times.
  3. The more you shoot, the more you learn, the better you get: I feel like I’ve come a long way since that cowboy shoot and if it weren’t for that photo session and the many sessions after that, I wouldn’t be able to take the shots I take now. I honestly didn’t have a clue how to do anything technical when I started out. I often made big mistakes and took crummy photos. Instead of feeling bad when you take a poor photo, analyze it and try to figure out why it’s poor and how you can improve your skills for next time.
  4. Most learning happens by “just doing it”: I haven’t taken a single photography class or read a photography related book cover to cover. I learnt everything I know by doing and doing until I got it right. When I couldn’t figure something out something technical, I’d call other photographers, connect on Flickr, or dive into Strobist for a week.
  5. Other photographers are your greatest allies: Whenever I meet another photographer like Ken (pictured on left) and Scott (right), I completely barrage them with questions about gear, lighting, techniques, etc. I find most photographers are completely open to sharing information and are wonderful shoulders to cry on when you are lacking inspiration. You can meet tons of photogs on Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook. Share your ideas, go for photo walks and garner inspiration from them.
  6. Believe in yourself and your photographic abilities: We all have bad days, unproductive days, but it’s the people that keep plodding through the difficult times that end up succeeding. I’m very hard on myself and my photography, and sometimes I’ve completely abandoned it for months because I didn’t feel like my shots were good enough. Now, if I’m having a bad day with my 5DMKII, I’ll switch things up and shoot with my iPhone. I find by taking the pressure off and just shooting for fun, I can overcome a lot of my self-critical negativity. At the end of the day, we shoot because we love photography, not to create perfect images.
  7. Share your photos: If I hadn’t uploaded that cowboy photo to Flickr, Penguin would have never found it. It’s that simple. The greater distribution your photos have, the more people will see them and the greater opportunities you have to publish or sell your images. So start sharing your shots! Plus, it really helps to have others both praise and criticize your work.
  8. You can make money with your photography: It’s not easy, but it’s definitely within your grasp. I did it with no training, just hard work and perseverance and so can you! I’m going to do an expanded post on this topic soon, because I know what a battle it is to get paid for professional photography work when everyone’s Uncle Jim considers themselves a Pro photographer.

Until then start with Step One: Get out and shoot. Step Two: Share your photos! I want to see everyone posting pictures on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr & their blogs. Can’t wait to see your shots!!

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37 Responses to “8 Things to Inspire You to Keep Shooting & Sharing Your Photography”

  1. Thanks for the inspiration! Looking forward to the “You can make money with your photography” post.

  2. What’s funny is that most microstock agencies would have rejected it because of the lens flare.

    I also sold a couple of images through Flickr, one to a British real estate company, the other to a biotech company. Both for several $100s which more than covered the cost of my Flickr Pro account.

  3. A very inspiring post. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I love the design of your websit! What backend are you using? WordPress? Squarespace? Did you pay someone to design it for your or did you do it yourself?

  4. You rock Lisa! When is YOUR book coming out? :)

  5. Fantastic Lisa! Great shot! Curious, what post was done to this image?

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa Bettany, Danijel Šivinjski, joerbailey, ♛ Marchello ♛, Sílvia Dias and others. Sílvia Dias said: RT @mostlylisa: 8 Things to Inspire You to Keep Shooting & Sharing Your Photography + my very first book cover! http://is.gd/dTA8U [...]

  7. Another great post! It’s reassuring to know how others have their bad days when it comes to photography and how you personally “overcome” or learn to be not as hard on yourself. I shoot regularly on my 400D and my latest craze has been using camera+. What I like about the app is I no longer have to think technical and just be creative which is the key to photography!

    Simon B aka iSimx

  8. @Dane Deasy:
    Hi Dane, If you pull up the source code, you can see it’s WordPress.

  9. Great read Lisa… Just sharing my own photo blog http://photophonephotos.com .. All iPhone pics and many of them using camera+ :)

    Amazing app!

  10. Wise man say – Create, Share , Sustain.
    If you hadn’t created / shared the cowboy photograph this wouldn’t have been possible. Just get out there and shoot people, all those excuses are just that, excuses.
    As for shooting on the iphone (cameraphone), I find the very fact that it limits me (aperture / shutter speed etc.) very liberating creatively. It just lets you concentrate on one thing, the image.

    Thanks.

    Mark

  11. Great inspiration Lisa, love your ideas, but I must say sometime classes/workshops do help.

  12. Thanks for sharing these simple but true tips, Lisa. Inspiring post.

  13. Lisa,

    Thanks for writing this… Photography is just a hobby for me but I’ve had a couple of things published from Flickr and just like you said sometimes it was months or years after the fact. In some cases too, it wasn’t a photograph that I necessarily thought was anything to write home about but because it was up there and tagged someone who wanted to use it was able to find it.

    Thanks,

    Chris

  14. Thanks for this post. I follow a lot of pro photographers and often feel like my gear (anything shy of a 5dmkII) isnt good enough to keep up. I try to tell myself just to master the tools i have first so it’s just good to hear it from someone else. I really enjoy your work.

  15. Lisa, your so inspirational.
    Thank you for your every post, tips, tutorials, and support. Inside of us, we’re all but learning to be that someone photographer that we’ve always dreamt to be.

    Working from the basics ‘n up, and casually snapping with my iPhone has never been better with your Camera+. I hope to see more great and exclusive features, not to mention the usual video tips on photography. And I also know for a fact that we won’t be disappointed for some in-app purchases of FX and more. :)

  16. good thing you didn’t edit out the flare in the cowboy photo, I’m not getting paid for my photography yet, but I think I’m getting closer, just had a shoot with some friends from work, hopefully they tell there friends & there friends tell there friends and so on, tell I actually get paid real money some day.

  17. [...] 8 Things to Inspire You to Keep Shooting & Sharing Your Photography – Great article. Very inspiring. [...]

  18. Nice Post. Perfect timing. I was starting to be overcritical with my stuff again. Nice to be reminded of why we do this.

    Oh yeah, just got my first iPhone. Downloading Camera + right now!

  19. Thank you for the inspirational post! That’s my philosophy in photography. It does not matter what equipment you use, shoot what is in your heart and you’ll never going to be wrong with it.

  20. What’s the scoop on Camera+?? Are you gonna issue a beat down on the taptaptap guys?

  21. What a great story and a great post! Really inspiring. I’m glad I found your blog – you just got yourself a new daily visitor :)

  22. I can’t tell you enough what an inspiration you are… always encouraging and positive and that’s awesome! I loved everything about this post, specially about believing in your self. Thanks so much for such a great post! =)

  23. [...] recently told the story of how this photo, which she posted on flickr over a year ago for no money, was recently purchased [...]

  24. Lisa,

    I just randomly stumbled across your page while browsing the internet for good portrait lenses–how lucky am I!? I just wanted to tell you that your work, your attitude, and your love for photography are all amazing. I’ve been reading your last couple of posts–as well as admiring your beautiful photos–and I’m in awe! As someone else already mentioned, you just earned yourself another daily blog visitor :)

    All the best,
    Alisha

  25. Wanna to be the person like you.

  26. [...] a search for various wordpress blog sites I’ve come across Lisa Bettany’s blog in which she writes about her life and experiences as a person and professional photographer.  It [...]

  27. [...] a search for various WordPress blog sites I’ve come across Lisa Bettany’s blog in which she writes about her life and experiences as a person and professional photographer.  It [...]

  28. Great article, I also have learned everything I know by making a whole bunch of mistakes and then figuring out how to get it right, that way the learning never ends.

  29. Lisa,

    I am embarrassed that I am just learning about this now. Congratulations! You are an incredible photographer and a talented woman. I am not surprised in the slightest bit that you’ve landed your first book cover. Here’s to many more to come!

  30. [...] my brother was inspired by Lisa to stream on [...]

  31. [...] favorite photographers or you can view this handy list I came across on Mostly Lisa‘s blog: http://mostlylisa.com/blog/8things/. She is slowly becoming another source of inspiration for me, especially since she has a [...]

  32. Great advice, I particularly agree with point 4.

  33. Thank you for the tips! I agree is not easy when every body think every picture looks the same!

  34. I know you posted this a long time ago, but I just found it, and your website today. Thanks for this great post. I have only been taking photos (with any purpose) for about 8 to 10 months, and really only the last 6 have been where I sort of feel like I’m getting to know my equipment. Like you, I am self taught and a late bloomer, since I am 47! Some days I wonder if I should keep going, if I will ever be able to make a living doing what I love, and even though I’ve had some success by being published in several issues of Romantic Country Magazine, I sometimes get down about it all. I will take your advice and keep going, and I will start posting more to flickr, which I’ve been very bad about doing!

    Thanks you for giving me the little push I needed. I love how when I am ready to hang things up, I will read something that keeps me going!

    Kat :)

  35. I loved this post. Thanks for the inspiration to keep posting my photographs. I love shooting, but have only just begun posting so that others may see my work. I was getting frustrated thinking that only my family notice my pictures. I will keep trying;)
    L

  36. Wow, just found this today. I need to take a break from the weddings (and computer work tbh) to get out and shoot for me, then post more on Flickr etc. – a friend of mine has sold quite a bit to Saatchi and Saatchi from Flickr, so it does work as you both go to show!

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