Pro tips for starting out in photography

A woman wearing jeans and a T-shirt

“I was inspired and challenged by the process of visualising something and bringing it to life. Photography has allowed me to express my visual ideas better than I could ever explain with words,” says Raymond Masekesa, a 22-year-old photographer based in Portsmouth.

Artefact met with Masekesa earlier this year, to talk about the advice he would give to a new photographer. What should you know before you pick up the camera?

As someone who has been shooting for just under a year now, I asked him why he believes it is important to share his experience and have a network as a photographer: “I believe it’s important for photographers to share tips with each other because we are artists. We have to treat ourselves as artists,  yes it is a highly competitive field, but I believe in collaboration. No matter how good you are. You cannot see every angle, and you can always learn something new from others. The same way music artists collaborate, that’s how photographers should collaborate.” Each one, teach one.

Masekesa also adds that although it’s only been just over 10 months, he admits he has “Learnt a lot since I first picked up the camera and [he’s] still learning now.” His biggest lesson so far has been on building relationships and maintaining them: “it’s equally as important as the shooting itself.”

I was particularly keen to speak to Raymond because for any budding photographers out there, he is someone you can easily relate to. Whilst it is important to dream big, some advice from “the established” can seem so far removed from the average person’s everyday life.

His inspiration to get into photography was one of his best friends Marc Marshall, “he could look like an average guy walking down the street, but the minute you give him a camera, he turns into Tony Montana! The coolest guy.” Although Raymond has chosen to pursue photography, you may notice that he is also very good with his words and actually keeps a blog. Below he shares his top ten tips for a photographer starting out:

1.My number one golden rule? Always visualise before you shoot! Create the image in your mind first and then aim to replicate it with your camera. Vincent Van Gogh once said, “you can never buy an original painting, the original copy only exists in the artist’s mind.”

2.Shoot consistently, every day if possible. The more you shoot, the better you get. Repetition leads to perfection and consistency leads to recognition.

3.You can learn everything you need to know online. Dedicate 10 minutes a day to learning a new photography skill or tip and write it down. I normally watch YouTube videos or read biographies online. See it this way, in theory, if you did this once every day for a month, you would acquire 30 new skills.

4.People skills are highly essential if you want to succeed as a freelance photographer or any other form for that matter. I recommend that you read a book called How to win friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

5.Establish long-term relationships with the models and brands that you collaborate with. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

6.The photography market is highly competitive. In order to stand out, you must develop your own unique style.


7.Be your biggest critic. Be critical of your own work and strive to improve at every opportunity.

8.Build an effective operations system. After my photoshoots, I upload the pictures on google drive. Then I edit them on Lightroom and distribute them on Instagram. The only resources I own at the moment is my camera and iPhone 5S. The more resources you have the better your operations system, be efficient!

9.Specialise. Have at least 2 or 3 shooting styles that you specialise in. Personally, I specialise in close-ups, headshot portraits and I’m comfortable shooting anywhere outdoors – be it the streets or the woods.

10.Funny enough this last rule actually goes hand in hand with the first one I introduced. Find time to meditate or think and reflect on your photography. This is how I keep my creativity flowing, this is how I generate photoshoot ideas and find inspiration.






Check out Raymond Masekesa’s portfolio here.

All photography by Raymond Masekesa.