Photography Lessons of 2013 Plus 20 Inspiring Photographs

Congratulations on one more trip around the sun as a photographer! Shots were taken, lessons were learned – both good and bad. Here are 16 words of wisdom from working photographers along with a favorite shot they took this year. May they inspire you to form a great New Year’s Resolution for your work flow in 2014!


© Ian Plant – Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Tamron 24-70mm

“No matter how gloomy it looks, it pays to be on location at sunrise or sunset. For this image, it was grey and completely cloudy, looking like it was going to rain. At the perfect moment, however, a gap appeared in the clouds, letting in two minutes of glorious red sunrise light. Just as quickly as it came, the light disappeared and then it began to pour!” – Ian Plant

“2013 was a big year for me. I moved to Los Angeles and had to start all over again. Within the first couple of months, I have been connecting with local creative professionals and have already shot for the December issue of LA Fashion magazine and photographed a couple of personal projects. The main lesson I have learned is to not be afraid of big changes. Staying positive, staying pro-active, seeking opportunities, and making connections is key to success. The harder I work, the luckier I get”. – Julia Kuzmenko McKim


©Michael Bonocore. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and an 85mm.

“In 2013, I learned a valuable lesson not only about my photography but about myself. No matter who you are, you can help make a difference. This year, I have been leading workshops for The Giving Lens. We work with non-profit organizations in foreign countries in a variety of ways. At the end of the programs we always provide photography marketing material for the organizations for their use in raising awareness to their cause. After co-leading a workshop in India this November, I decided to fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand to document the incredible work taking place at Elephant Nature Park. Although more than 90% of my photos from this animal sanctuary haven’t been edited yet, the photos that have been published have not only raised money to donate to ENP but also have helped educated and raise the public awareness of the plight of Asian elephants. If only one person decides to not partake in the activities that harm these beautiful animals because of the message I delivered in my photo then I have helped make a difference.” – Michael Bonocore


©David Kingham. Taken with a Nikon D600 and a 70-300mm.

“I learned to follow my heart. When I followed it, I found my passion in black and white landscapes – not color. Color lacked an emotional connection to my creative. Once I stepped away from what was popular, I found my vision.” – David Kingham


©Andy Lim. Taken with a Nikon D3s and a 70-200mm in Hunter Valley, Australia. Lim’s eBooks teach lighting, composition and more.

“One of the most valuable lessons I learned this year is that no matter how high I set my prices I will still be able to justify them with clients who appreciate my work. That doesn’t mean that I can rest on my laurels. I need to be constantly improving in order to command the prices I’m asking for. This is a good thing because only then can a photographer set himself apart from the competition.” – Andy Lim


©Moose Peterson. Taken with a Nikon D4 and 800mm. Discover why Moose loves the 800mm.

“I’m incredibly fortunate, having traveled to so many countries and nearly all the states this year – and all the time with a camera in-hand seeing some of the amazing sights our world has to share. When it comes to picking just one ‘favorite’ image, though, for the year, that is nearly impossible since so many have great memories attached to them. That’s what makes a photo a favorite. Since I needed to select just one, it would be one of a very common Savannah Sparrow I photographed up in the tundra of Canada this summer. Why? In part because it is so common. In part because of the world in which it lives – the Churchill River ice literally breaking up in the background, it’s amazing blue coming out for the first time. And the frost on the riverside willows slowly melting in the rising sun. It’s a simple moment with a simple critter and that’s why it’s a favorite. ” – Moose Peterson

Waterfall, Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

©Marc Muench. Taken with a Nikon D800 and 24mm at Glacier National Park.

“Some of the best images come when you’re uncomfortable! It had been raining most of the day. My jacket was leaking and my hiking shoes were soaked from the wet grass by the stream I had just finished photographing along. Then the cloud ceiling dropped a few thousand feet while we drove up Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. My intention was to shoot a break in the clouds during a stormy day but, with the clouds darkening and the mist becoming heavier, I began to lose hope. I kept driving up, up, and up through the fog until I noticed some beautiful trees in the mist. Since the only two options were to get out and walk around a bit or drive back down to the lodge, I chose to get out. The mist was really coming down, making it difficult to keep the camera equipment dry . Since my shoes were soaked and my shirt was mostly moist, I really didn’t mind the extra rain as I knew I could always jump back in the vehicle and warm up a bit. As the following hour unfolded, I began seeing little hope of anything changing and I was not finding any compositions until finally a nice little stream! Not only did I get a rewarding image in the mist but, shortly following leaving the scene, a black bear walked by. I am very pleased I did not drive back down the pass to the lodge!” – Marc Muench


©Drew Gurian. Portrait of Primus taken with a Nikon D800 and a 70-200mm. See why Gurian also loves shooting band work with a Leica.

“This year has taught me the true value of persistence. When you want to photograph someone, and they tell you ‘no’, realize that you don’t simply have to accept that.  Though the guys in Primus were amazing to work with, it wasn’t an easy catch by any stretch of the imagination.  This entire shoot happened in 18 seconds, and they walked straight from my studio to the stage to headline the All Good Music Festival.” – Drew Gurian


©Andy Williams. Taken with a Nikon D800 and a 200-400mm in Amboseli, Kenya

“This year, I (re)learned that patience is one of the most important things a photographer can have. This is hands-down one of my personal favorites of the year. While leading a photo safari, we’d been watching a pride of lions for hours and it seemed like they were going to just continue to play, groom each other, and laze about… and we almost left the scene having ‘had our fill’. We decided to wait another hour and we were rewarded. This female soon began the prowl and, before long, we were able to situate ourselves in a spot where we figured she’d emerge from the thick grass. To me, this shot shows so much about life in the African wilds. The wildebeest has no clue as to what’s about to happen, the lioness is totally focused on what she must do, and the viewer is left to draw their conclusion as to what happens next. Patience.” – Andy Williams


©Ian Coble. Taken with a Nikon D800 and 14-24mm.

“When experimenting with new techniques or ideas, don’t be afraid to fail. It took me close to 3 hours of shooting and failing and testing to get the end shot I wanted…even with a lot of pre-shoot planning. Don’t get frustrated when it doesn’t work out right off the bat. Slow down, think, experiment and, more than likely, you’ll get it.” – Ian Coble


©Andy Biggs. Taken with a Phase One DF+ with a Phase One IQ280 back and Schneider 240mm.

“I learned that I don’t always need camera equipment that shoots high frames per second, that can go to ISO 6400 or higher, that has adequate autofocus, and has enough focal length to fill the frame with a subject. Storytelling is all that matters and, often, equipment burdens us down to the point where what we have in the bag dictates our visual style – which is the opposite of what we should be doing. Creativity should drive craft, not the other way around.” – Andy Biggs

“I learned that a photoshoot can change somebody’s life. Though I’ve always tried to inspire others, it was the first time that the shoot itself was life changing.” – Benjamin Von Wong

©2013 Jamie A. MacDonald

©Jamie MacDonald. Taken with an Olympus E-M5.

“2013 is the year I realized that, although photography is an endeavor we often embark upon by ourselves, we can all benefit from expanding our social network. I spent a lot of time either shooting and corresponding with photographers from all genres. We can learn something from every genre.  I learned the importance of making a personal connection with your subject when shooting people in order to get genuine emotion in your photos. I learned that when I am out light painting one of the best questions I can ask myself is, ‘what if I tried this?’ I even learned how to read a weather forecast to better prepare myself for storm chasing photography. But most of all I learned that we all have something to offer one another in our love of photography and that we should not hesitate to share that knowledge with each other.” – Jamie A. MacDonald 


©Renee Robyn. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 50mm f/1.4.

“Don’t forget to recharge your imagination. Go off the wall and try something completely new, even if you’re not sure it’s going to work out. Throwing yourself out of your comfort zone head-on leads to innovation, inspiration, and, at the very least, a change of pace for a little while.”  – Renee Robyn

Lake Tahoe

©Court Leve. Taken with a Nikon D800 and a 24-70mm from the center of Lake Tahoe.

“The one lesson I keep learning and redefining is what’s important to my client/audience. If it’s a sport, what is important to the people who live that sport? For clients, it may be the exact placement of a logo that makes a better shot for them verses what I see as a better shot because of light or composition. Always have fun making photos.” – Court Leve


©Dean Tatooles. Taken with a Nikon D3s and a 500mm in Kenya.

“I learned that slightly overexposing your wildlife images can greatly improve black and white conversion during post processing.” – Dean Tatooles

Bonus: 5 Shots and Lessons Learned from the BL marketing team. Have a very happy new year from all of us!

“Don’t cut your photo shoot short just because the weather looks bad. Always wait out bad weather to see how it plays out. Odds are you’ll be rewarded for your effort.” – Jim Goldstein, Marketing Manager and Landscape Photographer


©Alex Huff. Taken with a Nikon D800 and a 24-70mm.

“2013 was the year I learned how to appreciate the photography of others without it negatively impacting my feelings of self worth because I have my own voice, my own vision, and my own personal goals. Remember this if you are ever feeling inadequate: photographic excellence is a marathon, not a race.” – Alex Huff, Marketing Copywriter/Promotions Associate and Portrait Photographer


©Sohail Mamdani. Taken with a Fuji X-Pro1.

“This year, I learned that photography isn’t best expressed as single one-off images but, rather, as a series that tells a story. The image above is part of such a series.” – Sohail Mamdani, Marketing Blogger and Editorial Photographer

“Build a team that you love to work with. As a primary shooter, I am responsible for having a vision and having a team that can understand what I am aiming to create is important. I also view my relationship with my assistants as a constant collaboration which helps open my eyes to opportunities that I might not have seen by myself. Lastly, having fun is always a high priority which comes with constantly learning from each other and sharing our passion for making great images. In the photo above, two of my assistants have a good time as they stand in for a test shot.” – Scott Roeder, Marketing Social Media Associate and Event Photographer

Cover Image: “Photographer’s Ghost” by DoodleDeMoon is licensed under CC 2.0

Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. See her lighting tutorials here. She is a Marketing Associate Manager at She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Before focusing on studio portraiture, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.


  • amira

    excellent work. it’s amazing.

  • Glen Weaver

    Awesome Shots! Since we don’t see a conflict of interest disclaimer here can we assume BL allowed these photographers to use BL’s equipment free of charge so they could use their photos in this advertisement?

  • Brenda Beveridge

    these pic are amazing! ,simply beautiful i loved them !

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