I am often asked to give advice to photographers of all ages either informally or formally in my role as a lecturer in the medium. The questions I am asked vary little and my answers are similarly formulaic if not repetitive. The reason for this is that at its heart photography has a few simple themes that need to be addressed and I tend to address them in a consistent manner.
Simplicity of message is always key to reaching a point of understanding and the most simplistic advice I give is to just have fun. It may also be the most important advice I give to any photographer confused by the noise that is often generated the multitude of voices keen to give their own input or charge for their own professed secrets to photographic success.
My take is, if it’s not fun why would you do it?
Photography is not the only fun in town, we know that, and it is those ways we find fun outside of photography that provide us with our subject matter. I often say that if you can’t enjoy photographing your passions and interests then there is no point in persevering with the medium.
However, the piece of advice I give most often is to turn the camera onto the world and people that surround you. To tell the stories you know best and that are part of your every day life. To reflect and document those things that are important to you. To me there is no more important or simple understandings of photography in its purest form. That is except from the instruction to enjoy the process.
I can’t give you advice as to what camera to use, what lens to choose, where to stand or how to approach someone. Well, actually I could but I don’t want to. I want you to find these things out for yourself because it is in that discovery that true learning and enjoyment come. This approach may be based in my own education as I never studied photography formally, but that has not stopped me gaining unmeasurable reward from engaging with all areas of photographic creation and discussion. You might want to be given formulas and conclusions but there is much more fun to be had from being given questions rather than answers.
Dr. Grant Scott is the founder/curator of United Nations of Photography, a Senior Lecturer and Subject Co-ordinator: Photography at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, a working photographer, documentary filmmaker, BBC Radio contributor and the author of Professional Photography: The New Global Landscape Explained (Routledge 2014), The Essential Student Guide to Professional Photography (Routledge 2015), New Ways of Seeing: The Democratic Language of Photography (Routledge 2019). His film Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay was first screened in 2018 www.donotbendfilm.com. He is the presenter of the A Photographic Life and In Search of Bill Jay podcasts.
Scott’s next book Condé Nast Have Left The Building: Six Decades of Vogue House will be published by Orphans Publishing in the Spring of 2024.
© Grant Scott 2023