One simple way to join the ranks of the BEST photographers

So you want to be a freelancer, eh?

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get an email from someone asking me how to become a freelance photographer.  I like answering those emails and starting a conversation with people who find this type of work fascinating and are willing to make the sacrifice needed to follow their passion.

Last year a friend of mine wrote a blog entry called “How to Make Money as a Freelancer”.  This week it was listed as #1 by Google.

While it’s full of great tips and ideas on how to get started in the freelance photographer world, there’s one that really sticks out.  It’s something I’ve been harping on for years — lose the Photoshop!

You can read the entire article by clicking here, but I’ve posted the pertinent part about getting the shot right — in the camera.


With software that can fix just about anything, it is easy to think that a marginal photograph can be made into a very good photo with software. While this might be true to a point, it takes a lot of time and a software fix will often make the photograph look a bit artificial.

Instead, you should try, as much as possible, to get the shot right, at the moment. Aim to get the shot ‘in camera’ and do only minor tweaks with the software.

The best photographers get it right at the moment of shooting, the ‘decisive moment’, as Cartier-Bresson said — and that moment has an intensity and an aliveness that can never be captured with software.

There’s no room in the freelance world for people that want to digitally enhance their work.  More and more editors and buyers are rejecting what is correctly being called “graphic illustration”.

Happy shooting!

What are your thoughts about digitally enhanced images.  Post in the comment section.


Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist. Currently living and working in Argentina he focuses on social justice issues. Known internationally for capturing events in a documentary style with an eye towards the aesthetic, his work has appeared in CNN, USAToday, Huffington Post and others. A nomad at heart, he is always looking for that next gig which will take him over the next hill or around the next curve. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or visit his website, or email him today.

4 thoughts on “One simple way to join the ranks of the BEST photographers

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