Your favorite YouTube photographer may be popular, but do they know what they’re talking about?
YouTube is a popular place to educate yourself. And its major selling point is people can learn new skills without paying a cent! Due to the rise and success of the platform, people are jumping on and creating content, hoping to gather a mass following. Some photographers have become very successful at it. But there’s a difference between a good YouTube photographer and a good marketer. Let’s take a look.
A Note on The YouTube Photographer
Let me be clear; I have nothing against the YouTube photographer. If someone wants to build a channel, power to them! But I know from experience that many who create channels don’t have much of a background in photography. What they are good at, however, is promoting their channel. They also have an eye for creating well filmed and edited content. Because of this, they gather a large following, but the context of what they’re saying may not offer much education to the viewer.
So this piece is about how to identify which YouTube photographer actually knows what they’re talking about, which will help you get a quality education.
Look at the Website of a YouTube Photographer
The first thing to do is to check out the website of the person you like watching on YouTube. Any photographer with a serious career will have their own website. There you will be able to see their client list. Who they have been working with and how long they have been a pro. If you jump onto their website and they have no real portfolio or client work, do they have the right to teach you about professional photography?
Find Out How Long They Have Been Shooting
Honestly, I have seen several YouTube photographers openly admit they first picked up a camera in 2019, for example. Seriously, if someone hasn’t had at least five years within their genre, they shouldn’t tell new photographers what to do.
Now, some new photographers like to document their journey and progression. That’s cool and can make for engaging content. But if they begin telling you what to do, move on and find someone with more experience.
Avoid Critiques from the Inexperienced YouTube Photographer
Photo critiques are popular. For one, it generates lots of views. And two, it helps people get feedback on their work.
But if you’re receiving a critique from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it can hurt your progress. So don’t submit your images to a channel just because it’s popular. Instead, connect with some well-established photographers via their website. Some, if they have time, will be more than happy to offer feedback on your work.
Who to Learn From?
So who should you allow to teach you about photography? Honestly, I think an individual needs at least five years in photography before they start teaching. For really insightful knowledge, look at those who have shot professional photography for at least a decade. And for super wisdom, look at photographers who are at the latter end of their career or retired. Many of them enjoy passing down their knowledge to new photographers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pay for Your Education
This is not for those who lack the finances to pay for an education. For you, YouTube is a wonderful source of free knowledge. But I know some people who can pay but think it’s better to go for the free option.
Platforms like Magnum, MasterClass, and Masters of Photography offer detailed courses delivered by true masters of the craft. By investing in a course, you can be confident the information you’re getting is solid. It’s also more interactive and really pushes you to develop your skills. (Note, this isn’t sponsored content, and none of the organizations above requested that I mention them in this piece. I’m recommending them from first-hand experience.)
The Best Education
Beyond studying, the best education you can get is to go out and shoot. A lot of people get so lost in reading and watching about photography, they forget to go out to shoot as much as they should.
Use online content as a guide. Read one or two tutorials a week. But the quickest route to success will always be doing the practical work. So learn from the best teachers, pick up your camera, and start creating amazing photos!