These are my own guides right now, the priorities in the back of my own mind when creating my work.
1. Disregard the rules, Embrace the principles.
Rules are about what we do, not why. I’ve got images in my portfolio that are intentionally blurred, out-of-focus, highlights blown, shadows plunged, and horizons dead in the middle of the frame. Understand why the so-called Rule of Thirds matters, then discard it.
2. Get over the gear.
Yes, the gear matters, but people will be moved by your photographs, not the tools that made it. We’re using cameras more advanced than a century of masters ever dreamed of. What you have is good enough. Go make photographs.
3. Show me how it feels.
It’s easy to show me how something looked, showing me how it felt is harder. Learn to use light, lines, and moments to best communicate on an emotional level. I know what the world looks like with my eyes, show me something I can feel differently about. Show me how you see it and feel it.
4. Get Closer
Pursue intimacy with your subjects, both in terms of proximity and how well you know them. Spend time. Don’t gun and run. Better to get a few beautiful, honest, and intimate images than a great many mediocre ones. You can always get closer.
5. Create Bodies of Work
Consider pursuing themes and exploring consistent constraints in your work – like a series that shares not only a subject but an aspect ratio and a colour palette. Photographs can usually stand, and stand powerfully, on their own, but often they can be even stronger in a series. Better three photographs that each communicate something specific, and work together, than one that tries to do it all and fails.