1. Learn all these rules and how to apply them before breaking any of them. Including this one.
2. Learn how your camera works, and how shutter/aperture/ISO all interact, and how to adjust all of them on your camera. Quickly. Without looking, if necessary.
3. Learn to focus and use individual focus points. Learn to focus and recompose.
4. Never shoot with the intention to “fix it in post”.
5. Click the shutter only after you’ve looked at the entire frame. Compose an image starting with the background, then place your subject in it. This failure is the biggest, single indicator of a fauxtographer: failure to look at the entire image.
6. A bad photo starts bad and ends bad. It’s okay to reshoot something with better light or better focus or better composition. Sometimes a post processing experiment doesn’t work, so don’t release it. Even the masters shoot bad photos; the difference is that nobody ever sees it.
7. Don’t use a flash until you study lighting. Tape your popup flash down. While light is required to make a photograph, using it improperly usually harms an image instead of enhancing it.
8. Learn to process images well. Photography has two parts: shooting the image, and developing the raw image to a final. It’s been this way since the 1800′s. If you don’t develop an image you shot with the same care you took shooting it, you’re only half a photographer. Corollary: Shoot and burn dilettantes are not photographers, they’re like hobbyists that have a drawer full of exposed, unprocessed film which they try to peddle.
9. Start with a light touch on post processing as you learn. Post processing gimmicks are just that. These gimmick actions will hold up to the test of time just like wearing a nylon shirt from the 70′s with a mullet … looking back it’s just embarrassing. When you post a picture with spot color, Jesus posts a picture of you wearing an unbuttoned nylon shirt and skinny jeans with a muffin top and camel toe.
10. The bigger the watermark, the worse the photographer. Nobody wants to steal your work. Learn some humility; you’re joining an industry that’s older than your great grandpa. And if you put crappy watermarked shots in your portfolio, you might find them reprinted here.