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In the second part of this blog double-header I’m looking back on some of the early-stage advice and lessons that, in retrospect, I'm glad I didn’t follow.

Of course this is not to say that any of this was not well-intentioned or “bad” advice. It's just that, with the benefit of hindsight and my own personal experiences, I have found myself either disagreeing with the principles behind the advice or just simply glad I ignored it!

So let's kick things off...

“Get it right in camera”

We should all try to instil good habits but with the best will in the world it isn't always possible or indeed desirable to get it right in camera. Time and conditions will often conspire against you so find a balance between getting it right and getting the shot.

“Professionals only use manual mode”

You see this sentiment on forums a lot and it's misleading. Without a doubt, manual mode provides a more intricate level of control that is often required on professional jobs, but this does not mean it is the only way. Use the method that get's the job done. Whisper it, but aperture and shutter priority modes will often accomplish this.

“Phone photography isn’t real photography”

I think we are approaching the end of the era where using your phone is not considered photography, yet there is still cynicism about its validity as an art form. The reality is that mobile photography is here to stay and is now producing image quality to rival “real cameras”.

“Want to improve? Buy a more expensive lens”

As I mentioned in my previous post, my favourite lens is my 50mm. It also happens to be the cheapest one I own. The more expensive lenses and cameras have features that will be beneficial in particular situations and for specific subjects, but they won't magically improve your creativity or your eye for a good shot. Really think about whether you need it before forking out.

“So you bought that expensive lens? Now buy a UV filter”

Ah yes, the salesman's favourite piece of kit: the UV filter! Responsible for needless up-selling across the land. The debate over their supposed benefits will rage on but I’m of the opinion that if you want to protect your lens, use the lens hood.

“You don't need a tripod”

The rationale here is that improved vibration reduction combined with superior ISO capabilities has made tripods somewhat redundant. I disagree – as will anyone who has ever attempted a long exposure without one. I might moan a little when carrying a tripod on a long hike but I moan a lot more should I forget to bring it at all.

“Buy super-sized memory cards”

Memory capacity is only ever going to increase but don't put all your eggs in one basket. I would always pick two 32GB cards over a single 64GB card every time. Failures occur and as any trader would advise, it's always wise to spread your risk.

“Always watermark your images”

I used to but rarely do now. Controversial, I know. All photographers should protect their work but when it comes to watermarks I think the pros are outweighed by the cons. Unless you choose to ruin your photo by slapping a distracting watermark in the middle of it, the reality is that removing them is relatively easy. I think of them as a mild deterrent but not a guarantee of protection.

“Don’t become a photographer”

The one piece of advice I’m definitely glad I ignored! There can be a lot of sceptics and cynics out there. Find some mentors whose opinions and feedback you respect, find a style that is yours to own, and enjoy what you are doing.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know your comments below!

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