Photography is one of those things that is really hard to just pick up and figure out on your own. Twenty-five years ago, if you weren’t in school and didn’t have access to photography classes or didn’t know anyone who knew anything about cameras, outside of buying a book it was hard to find the resources you needed to help you learn how to take images.
Thankfully, the world has changed in the last quarter century. If you have an internet connection you can learn to do almost anything online, especially photography. Bloggers are there to help you along your journey, offering tips and tricks to new techniques, how to master old ones and everything in between from inspiring stories to history lessons.
Top ten lists are tricky as they’re all opinion and experience based. What I find helpful and useful might be different than what you find helpful and useful depending on how much you know or what you’re interested in learning about. That’s why these are not numbered 1-10. Anyone of these blogs can be helpful to you in different ways and there’s no point and saying which one of the ten is the best as they’re all a little bit different and all offer something useful.
Anywhoo, here’s our list of Top 10 Photography Blogs You Need to Be Reading in 2018 (who aren’t Steve’s Digicams), arranged in no particular order:
Photofocus, originally created by Photographer Scott Bourne in 1998, has become the go-to blog and website for many who want to improve their photographic skills. There are new articles posted almost every day by various writers offering you tips and tricks to take better still and moving images. The archive is quite extensive as well and you could spend hours combing through old blog posts, discovering new tips and tricks along the way.
Street photography is important. I think looking at how a professional captures images on the fly of fashion in the everyday world has merit. Think about how you’re most likely to use your camera… when you travel. Think about it, when you’re traveling you’re going to take pictures of the buildings, the landscapes, and of you and your companions, but after that, you’re going to take pictures of the people who live there. Nothing quite paints a picture of where you are as do images of the locals.
According to the bio page on his website The Sartorialist:
“Founder/blogger/photographer Scott Schuman began The Sartorialist with the idea of creating a two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life.”
With Scott’s blog you’re not going to get a lot of tips and tricks, but what you are going to get is a lot of street photography of people. I think looking at images of people that other people take when not in a studio is going to be more helpful to most people starting out then to looking at images captured with complex lights in a studio. This is where you start and it’s good to know that you can take interesting and dynamic images of people with nothing but your camera.
Light Stalking is not only a great place to see and hear from photographers as they are constantly posting interviews with photographers and showcasing their work, it’s a great place for you to upload your own work and get feedback from professionals and amateurs alike. It’s important to get honest feedback from strangers. I know that might sound weird to some people, but oftentimes if you just show your work to people you know they’re going to like or love it no matter what. To really get better, you need an honest opinion from someone who’s not worried about your feelings. There is a slight danger that when you post something online you could encounter someone whose main goal is to hurt your feelings, but those people are mostly reserved for Facebook and are not tolerated on a site like Light Stalking.
With a “Photo of the Day” and lessons intermixed with profiles of great places shoot, Outdoor Photographer is a fantastic place to get inspired for those epic landscapes you’ve been dreaming of. Every type of photography has a different technique. The principals are roughly the same, but you have to treat each one differently. Outdoor Photographer is constantly trying to help you achieve landscape perfection and that alone makes it worth a mention on any list.
How do you use a flash? Nobody knows… ok, maybe some professionals, and everyone over at Strobist. Most casual photographers and amateurs today don’t even buy an extra flash for their fancy new camera. They either don’t use one or use the cheap pop red-eye inducing monster that comes attached to their camera. Using a flash can change the way you take pictures. It can offer you more time when the sun is dropping and light is fading and more texture when you’re in a room full of highlights.
The Strobist is more than that though, it’s all about lighting. Whether you plan on buying a light or using one when you shoot, it’s important to know how they work. That extra understanding of using artificial light will help you know why you can or can’t get a specific image.
Photoshleter started in 2005 with a goal to help professional photographers take better pictures. That’s it. They’re constantly interviewing professionals and picking their brains to get you inside why they shot something that way or what tips or tricks do they do that’s helpful to them. They also have the very popular “Who shot it better” section on their blog where they compare two professionally shot images of a person or persons and ask, “Who shot it better?” This is totally subjective of course, but that’s the fun of it, you might respond to one image more than the other and it will then challenge yourself to think of why you like that image better. The more you know what you like, the more you’re going to be able to capture it.
This is the blog of the famous and award-winning photographer, Joe McNally. Why would you want to check out his blog? Because he’s a famous and award-winning photographer! If he posts a picture on Instagram or on his blog and people respond to it, he will give you a full breakdown of how that image was taken, what the lens was that he used and why. This peek behind the curtains of how the sausage gets made is beyond helpful. Even if you’re not going to go out with a five-person crew and build sets for a shoot, you’ll understand what lenses he used and why he had an extra strobe light. His blog is full of inspiration and useful information.
National Geographic has been taking people to rarely seen corners of the world through photography since 1888. To have an image of yours in the magazine is probably a lifelong dream of every photographer. Aside from their magazine and tv channel, they also have an adventure blog. On that blog, you’ll find interviews and blog posts by the photographers that were sent out on assignment to capture those stunning images we all covet. Their “Photo of the Day” segment will inspire you to think about your subject through the eyes of an artist. It’s worth the visit.
The Phoblographer is, according to them:
“A website that explores the psychology of photographers as they do their work. It also offers reviews, tips, tutorials and news from a lifestyle point of view. The site explores the photography world and pop culture’s effects on the art form”
They’re constantly showing the latest gear as well as getting into the mind of the photographers they feature. Again, everyone has a different style and way of approaching things. It’s refreshing to learn from others as they show you and explain why they did things a certain way. You can never explain to someone why something is appealing looking, you can try, but it’s all subjective. It can, however, help you to understand an image you might not have understood if you can get into the mind of the person who took that image in the first place. They’re also constantly showing you tips and tricks with new cameras and technology and in a world where there are constant firmware updates it can be refreshing to know how to make use of all of them.
David Du Chemin is a photographer who brands himself as a world and humanitarian photographer. His blog is a great place to visit because of what he’s trying to accomplish with images. He’s trying to show the world in its harsh beauty, bringing to light the oppressed and the forgotten. That’s powerful. There’s a need to use art as a way of reaching people on a humanitarian level. You can tell someone all you want about the hardships of a person or what someone is going through, but until they see a picture they might not grasp the full levity of the situation. David uses his blog to vent to express to showcase and to educate about what he’s doing or what he’s shooting. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone who likes photography and wants to learn more about the world.
What? Instagram a blog? Nope. But it’s super helpful, especially if you forget about Instagram as just way to see your cousin’s kid eat pancakes through a Batman cowl. Photographers are becoming famous and getting work through posting on Instagram. Oftentimes the images contain a little blurb, where the picture was taken and how was it taken. If anything, Instagram should be a source of inspiration for you. Most of the people posting on there are just like you. They’re not famous, but they just like to take pictures and post about them… hence blog. If you’re curious about a certain topic like portrait photography, do a search on Instagram for #protraitphotography. Scroll through the list and if you find someone’s work you respond to, follow them. Then look at who they follow and before long you’ll be receiving daily doses of inspiration in your feed.