Photography Advice for Beginners

By Yising Kao 11.10.18.

Photo: Troye Sivan by Yising Kao + Twitter/Instagram: @yisingkao

Hi my name is Yising Kao (pronounced eeshing g-ow) and I’m a music photographer and videographer. A lot of people ask me for photography advice so I wanted to make this post. Also, I’m not claiming to be an expert or anything (still not making that bank yet) but these are just some of my tips so I hope it helps!

★ Do your research! Whether you’re looking for cameras, lenses, etc., google and youtube are your best friends. For example, if you want to shoot sports, then research good sports lenses and reviews. Wanna get into concert photography? Google “concert photography advice” and watch photographer videos or read interviews! There are so many great articles out there from lens recommendations to editing tutorials. There’s no required equipment and guidelines you need to follow for photography. Everyone has different styles and preferences so experiment with equipment, and you can consider renting equipment or asking a friend to borrow theirs. To me, photography is more about editing than what type of equipment you have. Don’t let fancy equipment intimidate you. Work your way up to what you want to buy.

Here's an example of a video about Jake Chams' advice and inspiring story of how he became a music photographer for Panic! At The Disco:

★ Practice! If you’re not sure what direction you want to go to yet, then branch out and try everything, like shooting photos of your friends or landscapes, even if it’s with your phone. If you can’t afford Lightroom/Photoshop, then download editing apps and use your resources so you can experiment and eventually you’ll find your style organically. Never copy someone else’s exact style-it’s awesome if you’re inspired by them, but remember that you’re unique and no one has YOUR eye! Build up your portfolio and start out by offering to do free shoots, then it’s up to you when you want to start charging once you gain more experience. It’s also fun to collaborate with other photographers cause you can both benefit by learning a lot from each other while building your portfolios. Ask yourself what makes your work unique? Let’s be real, it takes a while to get paid, and it’s hard to make a living out of just photography, so it’s good to explore other passions and offer a variety of photography styles. I'm still figuring it out myself.

★ If you want to get into concert photography, start by shooting small artists/bands. Reach out to them, people you may know in the industry, and your local venues. Again, you gotta offer to shoot for free at first to build your portfolio and work your way up. Nothing comes easy-it takes a lot of patience but if you’re serious about it, you’ll get to where you wanna get to! Talk to people at shows and build your network. Make business cards and reach out to publications to ask if you can shoot for them-that’s the key to get photo passes. Get your name out there. Post your work on social media and if you have rad friends, they'll support your work and help promote it!

★ BE GENUINE AND KIND! It may seem basic but a simple “thank you” can go a long way. No one likes to work with rude and conceited people. Even for all the “nos” you might receive, still say thank you. As king Harry Styles says, treat people with kindness.

★ Most importantly, do what you’re passionate about. If you’re not genuinely passionate about something and do it for the wrong reasons, then you won’t succeed. Put in all your effort and believe in yourself, or you can’t expect anyone else to; do NOT use others! It may seem cheesy but follow your dreams and goals and MAKE it happen. I hope my advice helps in some way, and I believe in you guys who aspire to be photographers you’re doing amazing sweeties!!