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Say cheese: Picking up photography again in the digital age can be a bit intimidating. But remembering the basics will serve anyone well in the long run. (iStockphoto)

Keep Calm And Snap On

by John Asante
Mar 3, 2011

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Last Christmas, I bit the bullet and invested in a nice, new camera. For the most part, it's a fairly easy-to-use starter D-SLR camera. It's been at least eight years since I've toted a professional camera around with the slightest bit of confidence. But so far, it's all been like riding a bike — configuring manual focus, aperture, and ISO for each shot has been pretty simple.

I don't plan on giving up my day job anytime soon. But it would be nice to maintain this regained passion for the medium (Long story short: back in high school, my experience in a black and white photography class wasn't always the most positive...and my teacher discouraged me from taking on a color photo session).

Lately, I've seen quite a few unique and inventive projects, from documenting impatient kids in line at Disney World, to stacks of old books to make crafty structures. And I kept wondering, "Well, how do I compete with those, or even come up with projects that will garner attention?"

Photojojo, a new site selling quirky add-ons for nearly any camera, has been a gift. The writers for the site even offer a slew of tips and projects to keep and new camera man or woman busy for days. There's a step-by-step guide on how to turn digital photos into artistic sunprints, for crying out loud!

I also follow their Tumblr, which highlights their products and tutorials, as well as other fascinating photo-related tidbits worth posting. Last week, I ran across this post, which gave me some hope for the future. I tip my hat to John C. Jay, the Wieden+Kennedy's Executive Creative Director, who wrote these "10 Lessons For Young Designers":

  1. Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It's time to stop listening to others on what you should do.
  2. Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.
  3. Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.
  4. Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.
  5. Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don't know.
  6. Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.
  7. Try not to work for stupid people or you'll soon become one of them.
  8. Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.
  9. The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.
  10. If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

So, photographers and designers out there of all ages, shapes, and sizes — got any tips to add to the list?

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