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The secret to being a "great" photographer....

When people ask how they can be a great photographer, I give them one very simple piece of advice: Show people only the great photos.

If you read closely, you'll notice I didn't say make only great photos. Frankly, that would be impossible. The key is to keep all the not-great images hidden away where they will never be seen. Pick your very best shots and show them off.

If you come home from a wonderful vacation in paradise and dump the contents of your photo library onto the social media outlet of your choice, two things will happen. One, your friends will not look at hundreds of photos and they will curse you for even thinking they have that kind of time. Second, there will be a lot of duplicates and other unremarkable images in the pile. This does nothing for your reputation as a photographer. In fact, it really hurts you. Do you really want people to think you can make a good photo only one time in thirty attempts?

On the other hand, let's say you spend a few hours editing those same photos and post only ten that are amazing, your friends will think you can't take a bad photo.

In the first example, you have so much noise that the finest images are lost in the shuffle, but in the second, there is only greatness. Better, or worse?

Almost every weekend, I take my camera to downtown Ocala and take pictures of the live musicians that are playing at the different venues around town. (It's great practice, as the players are usually moving around in poor light conditions and I never know exactly what they're going to do.) I may post a single shot of each musician to Facebook, and even fewer end up on this website, but most of the local musicians know that when I show up, they will get some good shots for their own portfolios.

Also, don't think that the models you use will keep your unedited images off the internet. If you give away everything you've shot at a formal photo shoot without first editing the images, the model may decide she really likes the way her hair looks in one shot, but doesn't care that part of a light stand is visible in the corner (and doesn't have the technical skill to remove it). If she uploads that and gives you credit (also rare, I know), other potential clients may see it and think you don't know how to edit. Again, this is only bad for you.

The lesson here is to never let anyone see anything you've shot until you're happy with the results. If it's the best you can do and you're proud of it, then and only then should you allow everyone else to bask in its greatness.

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