Domain Expertise

6 learnings from the first 10,000 photographs

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier Bresson

I’ve been practicing photography for nearly 8 years but I’m still not comfortable with calling myself a photographer.  A little over 10,000 now so I’m feeling hopeful. Here are a few things I’ve learned through my journey.

  1. It doesn’t matter what camera you begin with because Lange, Adams or McCurry didn’t become famous for the cameras they used! It’s not just a camera that makes the photograph. Intuition, technique and execution play an equally important role. First time you buy a camera, you’re probably going to mull over the specs and consult your photographer friends but 8 years down the line, with experience, I can safely say that the camera I began with didn’t matter as much. I started with a point-and-shoot canon powershot, moved to a Fujifilm bridge camera, then a single-lens reflex (SLR) 350D before deciding to buy my 5D Mark III.
  1. Understand light and know your camera. To control your camera, you need to first understand how it creates images – and light is the key to photography magic.
  1. Photography doesn’t come cheap. So before you invest in an expensive camera or its fancy equipment, be sure to know if and why you need it. (unless you’re really rich and don’t know what else to do with your money!)
  1. You don’t have to choose between just landscape, wildlife or street photography. Landscape and people portraits are great ways to enter into photography but don’t get too comfortable there. Even sunsets get repetitive after a while!
  1. Use a film camera and develop your photos in a dark room. Without the spoon-feeding of a digital camera, you’ll be able to understand the role and importance of aperture, shutter speed and ISO when shooting under varied light conditions.  Having limited 35mm film will make you highly selective while composing your shots and shooting. And if you’ve wondered how photo-editing tools were invented, you’ll discover them first hand while developing the film in a dark room!
  1. Explore, challenge and experiment. Be versatile; try everything before you pick your niche. The best way to learn is to try it out. You can read magazines, look at videos or take tips from the pros but nothing beats trial, error and experience.

If you’re a beginner and want to learn, don’t get too comfortable. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because, either way, your first 10,000 will probably be your worst. I’ve done landscape, wildlife, street, event, product and stage photography and I’ve picked my favourites too, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying new styles and techniques.

Right now, I’m photographing a bunch of offices spaces. Check them out at Jobspire!



Soumil Kar

The author Soumil Kar