Top 10 Qualities of a Great Photographer

What are the top 10 qualities of a great photographer? It takes more than just a nice camera and a desire to take pretty pictures to be successful in this creative yet technical professional field. Whether you want to work for newspapers, magazines, portrait studios, or as a freelance event photographer, there are a few qualities that you should try to cultivate as soon as possible.

photographer qualities

Photo by mohammad alizade; ISO 500, f/4.2, 1/80s.

1. Ambitious Nature

Photography, like many other creative professions, is a highly competitive field. You’ll need the ambition to keep going and striving for the best if you’re going to make it.

2. Detail Oriented

A big part of great photography is the ability to focus on the tiny details as well as the big picture. This means capturing the tiniest details when it’s necessary, and knowing when to edit the tiniest details out when they’re not adding to the picture.

3. Coordination

If you don’t have good hand-eye coordination and a steady hand, you better start doing as many exercises as possible to help develop these skills now. This is vital to photography careers.

4. Creativity

This one should be obvious. You either have it, or you don’t. However, photography school can often help to cultivate what you have if you feel your creative skills are somewhat lacking.

5. Legal Knowledge

This may not seem so obvious. Photographers do, however, need to be knowledgeable of certain laws, particularly those related to copyright issues and contracts.

6. Knack for Marketing

You can’t just expect to sit back and let the work come to you. You need to get your name out there and have a professional looking portfolio to let people know what you can do.

photographer skills

Photo by Maxim Tolchinskiy; ISO 500, f/4.0, 1/30s.

7. Networking Know-How

Yes, you will need to network and “schmooze” to make it in the photography biz, regardless of whatever professional level you have your sights set on.

8. Mind for Business

This is a profession first and foremost, so it’s necessary to have the business skills to manage your career and make the decisions that will benefit your bottom line.

9. People Person

You’ve got to have people skills to make it in a competitive, creative field like photography. Being personable will get you far in this profession.

10. Technical Skills

This is a no brainer. Photography is all about using the best equipment, tools, and software and knowing how to use them all correctly.

About the Author:
This article was written by Erik Johnson from ArtandDesignDegreesU.

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18 responses to “Top 10 Qualities of a Great Photographer”

  1. My fiancé and I are so excited about our simple wedding next month. We are keeping things simple but we’d just want to have a great photographer that could capture these moments with us. So, thanks for mentioning that we should hire one with up-to-date skills, software, and equipment and would know how to use them properly in specific situations.

  2. Mick says:

    It’s so sad when so many amateur psychologists get involved with spouting rubbish when they actually have little, to no, understanding of psychology.

  3. Sad Agus says:

    Love this article. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kit hannigan says:

    I really like what you said about how great photographers work hard to keep going for the best end product that is possible. If I were hiring photographers for a youth sports league, I will be sure to work with people that will take the job seriously, even if the job does not give them the prestige of shooting for major leagues. That way, I can get amazing shots at the end of the day, while he gets portfolio-worthy photos from a paid job.

  5. Pacific Plus says:

    Photography is a great art. And like any other art you need to do lots of practice to master it.
    Be ambitious and always seeks out opportunities, pay close attention to detail while catching photos.

  6. Paul Danger Kile says:

    Mr. Johnson,

    I am sorry for posting the above comment. I am ashamed for writing that. Nobody should be criticized like that in a public forum. Feel free to delete it.

    I am sorry,

  7. Paul says:

    5,6,7,8, and 10, have nothing to do with being a great photographer. And #3? Someone’s general eye-hand coordination isn’t an issue, if they practice shooting skills enough to learn them.

    I love this website. I have been reading every post for a few years now, but…

    This post is the worst. The writer is saying that his qualities are the ones that make one great. Your audience is now larger than the small number of “professionals” that think they are better than the rest of us.

  8. Mina Edinburgh says:

    I appreciate it when you said that a good photographer is very creative and that photography schools teach this in case they do not have enough creativity. If that is the case, then I will see to it that I ask the former clients of the photographer that I am considering if he is creative enough. Though I doubt it will be that important since the I intend to hire a professional to do a commercial photography. Surely that already has a pattern.

  9. Rebecca Gardner says:

    It was interesting when you explained how important a steady hand is to a successful career in photography. My younger sister is pregnant with her first child and mentioned that she wants to work with a maternity photographer to help memorialize this special time in her life. I’ll pass along these tips so she knows what skill to look for as she starts reaching out to potential photographers in her area!

  10. Fibonacci says:

    This might be a better list if the title was “Top 10 qualities for the business of photography.” That is to say, these are qualities required to run a good photography business but they won’t necessarily make you a good photographer. The list of top ten qualities for being a really good photographer should start with; 1)Patience, 2) A Good Eye, 3) A knowledge of the history of art and photography. It takes a long time to become a good photographer. Buying $20,000 worth of equipment doesn’t make you a better photographer any more than buying an expensive car makes you a better driver. It also takes many years to develop a good eye, for knowing what works best in each situation and how to handle the challenges you will face. Lastly, while many photographers are quick to claim they are artists, precious few actually take the time to study art and why some works are considered genius and others are left on the scrap heap. To bad, they would be much better photographers if they did.

    • John Cicchine says:

      Exactly the same conclusion that I came to after reading this article!!! There are many photographers that are artistically strong but weak when it comes to the business end of things like marketing and networking.

  11. billrinmn says:

    I like your list for the most part. Would disagree with some of it as in Number 10. “Photography is all about using the best equipment, tools and software and knowing how to use them all correctly.” Wouldn’t that statement alone negate the other 9? Anyways… I have seen awesome images shot with P&S cameras… and even cell phones.

    Hard to put photography in a box. Sort of like the one man’s trash is another’s treasure sort of thing.

    Good points all, to take into account.

    I am just thinking a different title might be in order for your post.

  12. bycostello says:

    business savvy should be number 1 and i think ur right technical skill comes at number 10!

  13. Jade Brunet says:

    My good friend is looking to become a photographer and I wanted to learn more about the skill sets of these professionals. It is good to learn that photographers are detail oriented. I like what was said about capturing the tiniest details when necessary and when to edit the tiniest details out when they are not adding to the picture.

  14. Wedding photo packages says:

    Nice blog! I read your article. I really like all the points that you mentioned are interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing this blog.

  15. Lucas T says:

    I agree with all of these! Great article!

  16. Jack Mason says:

    A good article, called the main qualities that should be guided by a good photographers. Most of these qualities are photographed which I was lucky to find on TaraWeddings. Real professionals, their work is doing great.

  17. Henry says:

    I think You need passion to become a good photographer.It doesn’t mean you need to be an expert. It means you need to be dedicated.

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