Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back
More than just a great tip for getting a more stable platform to shoot pictures from. Be willing to take advice from other photographers. Also be willing to accept what others think of your photography if you are presenting it to the world. Some people won’t get what you are trying to do and that’s ok. Photography should first and foremost about taking pictures the way you want to take them.
Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping
You and your photography matter. As long as it is something you enjoy doing and have a chance to create for yourself, no one can take that from you. Take care to learn as much as you can from photographers you admire.
Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you
Photography is often a solitary pursuit. You don’t usually want to be taking pictures, or the same pictures, that everyone else is taking. There is a value though, in surrounding yourself with other photographers to share the experience with. While you might go out to find an individual picture, gathering with other photographers can help you learn and grow your photography skills and disciplines. Also, we are social animals and hanging out with people who share our interests is often beneficial to our emotional and physical well being.
Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today
Pictures you took yesterday or when you started being serious about photography will not usually be as good as the ones you take years later. Don’t compare your best work to someone who has been taking pictures longer than you have. It’s really easy now day to get into a comparison trap or to feel like you aren’t improving. Compare your current work to your past work, not to someone who has been doing this longer.
Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
If you do have kids, then this rule has a couple of meanings. Teach them to be conscientious photographers. If you don’t then think about it this way. Photography comes with a lot of gear, make sure you take care of it and it will take care of you.
Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
Everyone is somewhere on their photographic journey. What have you done to improve your photography skills? Blaming your gear or where you live is not the fault for poor photographs. Maybe you don’t live in some epic location, maybe you don’t have the latest $5,000 camera. This shouldn’t prevent you from taking the pictures you want to take. Practice makes perfect.
Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
Photography takes years and lots and lots of pictures to master. There are no easy shortcuts to becoming a better photographer than just going out and taking pictures. For the first couple of years, buy one camera setup and just use that. Pursing new gear won’t help you make better pictures. Taking better pictures will
Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
Taking photos is a way to tell a story, don’t use that story to hurt. It’s easy for pictures to be misunderstood or to be held up as evidence for something bad. If you wish to use your photography for the greater good, then be honest with what you take pictures of and provide an explanation of what you are trying to capture and why. Don’t just take the picture everyone else is taking just to get more “likes” take the pictures you want to take and show that work, or don’t, it’s your story.
Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
Reach out to other photographers that work in your area. Ask them for tips, look at photobooks to see different styles of photography. Don’t go out an copy their work directly but find ways that you can adapt some of the styles you like to your own type of photography.
Rule 10 Be precise in your speech
Be honest about the pictures you take, the images you like and the ones you don’t. Start culling images that don’t look the way you want, but study them to see what you don’t like about them. Is there something that you could improve in your technique? Really looking at your images will help you get more images you like.
Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
Sometimes photography is about breaking the rules. Not every image has to be tack sharp and on level to be perfect. Sometimes you need to bend or break what the normal conventions are to make images that resonate with people. Also, if someone asks you to look at their work and it’s not your style or to your personal taste, still try to be encouraging without offering more help than they are asking for.
Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street
The best camera is the one you have with you. Don’t pass up a photo opportunity if you don’t have your “real camera” with you, or the right lens combo/tripod/whatever. Take the images as they come with whatever tool is at your disposal. You might not know when the opportunity to capture a great photo will come along, don’t miss it when it presents itself.
Adapted from this book: https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/12-rules-for-life/