1. Throw out the rule book. (Kind of an oxymoron here)
2. Follow your gut. I was doing a job for a client who wanted images taken of one of their trucks taken in front of their building. And when I wanted to take some of more trucks in front of the loading dock, he gave me a very hard time. (But he let me do it anyways) Guess which image he used for the for his computer wallpaper on his computer?
3. You should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, delete an image until you get home. (See Rule #13)
4. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might not like what you get but what is the harm? If you shoot digital, it will not cost you a thing. (If you do this remember rule #3)
5. If you are about to click the shutter and you say to yourself, this is just like XYZ’s photo, please dope slap yourself. Living in New England, I have seen too many of the same light house taken at the same time of the day, same exposure etc. If you do, try something different. (see rule #4) Also, Read this article about 10 Photographers You Should Ignore.
6. Do not shoot everything as if you are in a gun turret. (Eye level)
7. Watch your backgrounds of your image.
8. Watch your foregrounds of your image.
9. Learn to know what image you will get without having to look in the view finder. I use this if the angle I am shooting at a weird and I cannot get behind my camera comfortably. (It will also work in an urban setting.)
10. Use leading lines and have them go from left to right. (The same way that you would read a sentence.)
11. Go out and shoot everything at 1.4 or whatever the largest aperture that you have. (I would not go above 1.8)
12. Go out and shoot everything at f32 or whatever the smallest aperture that you have. You might have to play with your ISO to get the image that you are looking for.
13. Keep backups of all your work. Even the rejects. (unless you take a picture of your foot) I have 2 hard drives in my office as well as a pair that I rotate with one always beinging off site. I would recommend SyncToy 2.1 to help with this.
14. Spend more time shooting and less time behind the computer. “ Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment.” – Elliott Erwitt
15. Do not be afraid to underexpose your images.
16. Do not be afraid to overexpose your images.
17. The histogram should never be taken as the only guide to a good image.
18. Shoot in color and convert to black in white in Photoshop. Trust me, Photoshop and it’s filters do a lot better job doing the converting then your camera. Now if you want to do a test to see what the image might look in b&w, do a quick conversion in the back of your camera.
19. Full the frame with what you are shooting.
20. Leave a lot of negative space around what you are shooting.
21. Focus everything in your image
22. Use selective focus in your image.
23. When shooting develop peripheral vision, your best picture might be behind you.
24. Be aware of your surroundings when shooting. The image that you are looking for is not worth losing your life over. (OK most images)
25. Have a sense of humor when you shoot.
26. Being a photographer is a lot like being a comedian. If you have to explain your jokes, you need to find a different audience or a new career path.
27. Do not let the time of the day or the weather dictate when you photograph.
28. It is only trespassing if you get caught.
29. Less is always more. Do not complicate your image with too much information.
30. Don’t get too caught up too much in your equipment.
31. If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t that stupid.
32. RTFM (Yes, Read The F***ing Manual.) Your camera has lots of useful functions that help you with your vision and you’ve paid for them, so you might as well learn how to use them. (I hope that you would not go out and purchase a D4 and shoot everything in auto at low res jpeg.)
33. Remember, just like the hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ” He may have not been talking about photography but the same rule applies here.