Strategies for New Photographers


1. Be kind, honest, and authentic to yourself because this will reflect in what you make. Embrace your early creative expressions knowing that it’s okay to not understand where they fit (or if they fit) with your goals at first. Exploring the unknown is where you will discover your self.


After the process of exploring, experiencing, and reflecting repeats itself a few times look for the feeling of being in control of your creative moments and aware of your intended audience or market. This leads to the mastery of your tools and technique, which is initially a barrier to the creative process. Making images to serve a purpose is a visually articulated expression of mindfulness. Using technique and mindfulness in concert is the challenge.


2. After a few experiences doing this you can begin to connect the dots of your interests and steer a course through your ongoing states of creative growth.


3. Network and collaborate. This will help you learn about your boundaries and how you can contribute across those boundaries to others.


4. Before starting a project consider who the audience is. Ask if your intent is to connect with an audience or simply explore ideas and technique for your own personal growth.


You can control to some degree what you show your audience about yourself, but you have less control over how your audience interprets this expression. It’s important to understand that these two perceptions are different and dynamic. Sometimes they’re in sync and sometimes they’re not.


5. Extracurricular classes and clubs are a great way to discover new visual subjects and to find mentors. There are also many great resources online for learning new skills to enable you to express your ideas and broaden your perspective. As you go about this be kind, curious, explore, reflect, and repeat.

Discovering Photography & Visual Naratives

I brought a 35-mm automatic film camera my first summer at the Keewaydin canoe camp in Ontario. I was 13. One of my fellow campers had a manual 35mm SLR camera with a beautiful lens by comparison. Looking through the viewfinder while we were on our first trip, I saw how a lens could allow manual focusing and sharply framed compositions.

It was my first memorable feeling for the technical aspect of making images connecting with my vision. I still remember the details of that moment looking north up the lake from our island campsite.

The next summer I brought a 35-mm SLR camera given to me over the winter by my grandfather who also loved photography and recognized my emerging interest. The first few summers back in Ontario I made photographs to share the wilderness experience with family and friends back home.

After a few years past I began to look for things I hadn't photographed before, like the tactile details of a tumpline knot or blackened fire irons. Back home I would print, edit, and put my photographs into albums. 

This was when I first learned how images and collections of images could become a narrative.