The Jedi Knight’s Guide to Photography

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The Force is strong with you—photographically speaking. I can sense it.

But before you can become a Jedi photographer, you must learn to harness the force.

Here are some lessons that Yoda and crew can give you to help you on your journey.

Punch it, Chewie!

Balance

The Force is divided into two—the Light and Dark sides. There is balance.

Photography is the same. A great image is about balance–in the composition, light and shadow, and meaning and style. To create great work, look for balance in your photographs.

Be Patient

“I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.” – Yoda

Above all, photography takes patience. Whether it be improving your camera skills, strengthening your understanding of light, or achieving the business success you desire, you won’t get there without patience.

Photography is a lifelong pursuit. You need to be prepared for the long term, and be patient with the struggles that you face on a day to day basis. You’ll get there in time.

Have Endurance and Persistance

These Jedi traits go hand-in-hand with patience. When Luke first began his training on Dagoba, Yoda had him running circuits through the swamp. He needed endurance. When he gave up when he tried to lift the X-Wing from the water, Yoda wondered if he really had what it takes to be a Jedi.

Photographers need endurance and persistance, just like the Jedi.

This is going to be a long journey. If you don’t have the endurance to work at it for years, you won’t get there. Ditto if you give up after setbacks or failures.

Let’s lay it out straight. Failures and setbacks are expected. Be persistent, learn from them, and move forward. That’s when photographers really improve.

Be Present

“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda

Yoda seriously wondered if Luke would be able to become a Jedi. Even though the Force was strong with him, he was always craving adventure and excitement. As wonderful as those things are, they take your mind off the present.

As a photographer you need to be present, most importantly when you’re shooting. If you aren’t giving the situation your absolute and complete attention you are limiting yourself. Great photography comes when you’re 100% present and aware. If you’re thinking “Gee, this is going to look great on my blog” or “Wow, I’m going to get so many Facebook likes for this shot” you’re doing your work (and your clients) a disservice. Be present. Be focused. Great work will follow.

This concept also extends to where you are with your work. It’s easy to get caught up dreaming of what your future as a photographer will hold–longing for the day when you can shoot here, buy this snazzy camera, or photograph that bigtime event.

You can do incredible, life-changing work with the camera you own, in the city you live in, with the subjects you have access to. No exceptions. Be present with your career and your talent, and you’ll make amazing images.

Fear Is The Path To The Dark Side

“Fear is the path to the Dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering” – Yoda

Fear is a big obstacle to becoming a Jedi photographer. It can prevent you from taking the photos you want to take, and pursuing the opportunities you want to pursue.

But know this. Becoming a Jedi photographer is not about eliminating fear. It’s natural to feel fear in the face of the unknown.

The key is to not act from fear. Act on your passion, despite the fear.

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Feel, Don’t Think

“Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” – Qui-Gon Jinn

Thinking is awesome. But when you’re shooting, you need to let go, and feel. This is where preparation becomes important. If you’re constantly thinking about camera settings or rules of composition, you’ll miss moments and images that really mean something.

Practice until you can operate your camera without thinking. Study composition until it becomes instinctual.

And when your’e shooting, feel, don’t think. Your instincts are one of your greatest assets as a photographer. They’ll draw you toward unique images that will have impact instead of dull ones that simply follow the rules.

Unlearn

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda

The older we get, the more pre-conceptions we have. We think we know what’s worth shooting. We have expectations of what others will think. We worry that they will see our work as silly.

The more you can unlearn these pre-conceptions, and clear your mind, the more you’ll really see.

Photography is, in large, about seeing what others do not. You need to get rid of a lot of mental baggage to be able to fully open your eyes to the overlooked details that make great photographs.

Size Matters Not

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm.” – Yoda

A big expensive camera doesn’t make you a great photographer. Nor will it automatically take great photos. It’s all about the mind and the eye behind the lens.

A big rockstar status isn’t required for great work either. Don’t worry if no one knows your name. You can be a small fish, but create work that is massive in skill and impact.

Don’t let size intimidate you. Or lull you. Each and every photographer has to work hard for great images, no matter their fame or gear.

Be Good Against the Living

“Look, good against remotes is one thing, good against the living, that’s something else” – Han Solo

When Luke practices his lightsaber skills against the remote, he succeeds and gains confidence. But Han reminds him that practice is only part of the equation.

It’s easy to get lured into the sense that you’re advancing if you are doing lots of practice. But practice is only useful if you eventually go up against the real thing.

Everything is different when the pressure is on. Prepare yourself as best you can for that moment. But in the end, you’re going to have to jump.

Believe

“I don’t…I don’t believe it.” – Luke “That is why you fail.” – Yoda

To become a great photographer you need to believe in yourself. This isn’t about over-confidence. It’s about knowing that you will get there, with hard work and perseverance.

Knowing that you’ll do it is what will keep you going in the rough times. If you start to think you’ll never make it, you’ll have already sealed your fate.

Do or Do Not

“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda

If you approach a difficult situation with the notion that you’ll try to do it, you weaken yourself.

Photography isn’t about trying. It’s about shooting. You need to get out there, with your camera in hand, and photograph. Over, and over, and over again.

Trying to become a better photographer isn’t enough. You become a better photographer by doing.

May The Force Be With You

Becoming a Jedi photographer isn’t about what camera you use, or how much you know about composition, post-processing, or workflow. All of those things come with training.

Instead, it’s about your mindset. With the right attitude, and some hard work, you’ll become a true Jedi photographer.

So take up your camera, get out there, and go for it.

May the Force be with you.

And some great light as well.

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Comments

41 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. So glad to be related to you, I am.

  2. Awesome article – I'm going to be sure to reshare this one!

  3. @ Steph : )

    @Ashley – Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I wish that more people could wrap their head around gear. Yes, a pro camera and lens will aid your photography but it doesn't make up for not understanding lighting or composition first. Great post once again!

  5. I really enjoyed your blog…geeky (in the non-gear head sort of way) and conscious combined with photography.

  6. I sometimes wonder if other photographers really do feel their work…. I know I feel each time I look through my lens. Yes I want a new camera, yes I want the best stuff, but as you said if you understand what your doing you should be able to create from anything…. Great post!!

  7. this post makes me smile :)

  8. I hope you have no objections to me printing this off and laminating it :D

  9. Jamie Z says:

    Right you were and right you are…Yoda rules

  10. Thanks everyone for such awesome comments!

    @Elliot: Do it!! :)

  11. Love, love, loved it! You guys are a hoot!

  12. Your blog was like a good pep talk. Thanks

  13. Thank you, thank you, for the humbling and motivating truth about being a small nameless fish. Really resonated with me, and struck deeper than you can imagine. :)

  14. Really nailed this one! First time on this site, but with posts like these I'll sure to be back.

  15. Thanks for the super kind words guys! I'm so glad you all enjoyed the post. I had a BLAST writing it. Always a good day when I can say I'm watching Star Wars for work purposes! ;)

  16. This is a great article. I am a big fan of both Star Wars and Photography.

  17. Man, I wish I had thought of this!!

  18. Thanks for the comments Al and Jason! Glad you enjoyed it :)

  19. Great work on this one. I love the Darth Vader shot with the Hassy.

    Acting in fear seems the most natural human instinct and it is hard to stay with the light side of the force.

  20. Thanks!! And you're right, it's definitely tough to stay with the light side! Fear is very powerful :)

  21. Gladys Hedaya says:

    Pretty Clever!!!! Truly resonated with me. Love the article especially cause I've got four Star Wars Fans that live with me!!!!
    gh

  22. Gladys Hedaya says:

    Pretty Clever!!!! Truly resonated with me. Love the article especially cause I've got four Star Wars Fans that live with me!!!!
    gh

  23. OMG this article was so amazing. It is definitly going in my journal. Star Wars is like part of me and so is photography, I don't know why I never put the two together. Thank you for this article and your site. It is all information I need to hear. Keep up with the amazing work. I am going to be checking this site out everyday. Thank you.

  24. *@Gladys:* Thank you! Four Star Wars fans eh? Sounds like a fun household!!

    *@Tarah:* :D Thank you! It took me many years to put them together too, I don't know why! I'm so glad you enjoyed this article, and the site!! So happy to be able to help!

  25. <3 this post! Made me smile, love your guys' ability to make topics fun to read about :)

  26. I've just been watching Star Wars since they were just re-released! Funnily enough, I did feel inspired listening to Yoda.. "Do or do not.. There is no try."

    Thanks for the post! I'm adding this to my instapaper.

    :)

  27. That was awesome. Thanks for the bout of confidence, I always need it!!

  28. Thanks for commenting you guys!! So glad you enjoyed this one. :D

  29. Thanks for writing, it's a piece which is resonating with me, especially the light and dark. But sometimes using the camera at the dark side can be very illuminating :-).

  30. Hey Kirsty! Thanks so much for the comment. Interesting point about using the camera at the dark side!! There's always SO much to explore with photography hey??

  31. Another good one, Lauren. Sharing with my disciples, I am. May the force be with you, oh bee one. And a hug from me! :-D

    the scene stealer

  32. Awesome, awesome post Lauren!

    1. Love the photos in this post :)
    2. Love how all of your points are good rules to live life by and I find them all hitting home right now and putting *life* back into perspective.

  33. Loved this article.
    Perfect for Jedis; hits on the emotional investment in the creative process.
    I guess Trekkies will be working out the physics and chemistry stuff to explain why your camera really will work in the rain …. Or in space for that matter

    :)

  34. Love it! :) Inspirational AND funny. Thank you!

  35. shoud’ve shared this last star wars day! (May the 4th) :D

  36. Loved this post, I did. Take heart in its teachings, I shall.

    Luminous beings are ye

    ;)

  37. I love this! From a photog and a geek perspective…this just hit home! May the Force be with you always! <3

  38. Love, love, love this article I do!

  39. As a huge Star Wars fan I really loved this article :) Nice work

  40. Great insight about photography. I look forward to more of the same.

  41. Thanks for reposting this. I discovered you in 2017 and I just love all the stuff you guys do and talk about and share. I am calling myself a photographer now instead of thinking that’s only reserved for someone who went to school for it/studied under another photographer/somehow earned the title another way and even though I have some moments where I almost cross my fingers and hope for the best, I am out there doing it. My passion for photography runs deep and it’s important for me to know I will continue to improve, learn, grow and prosper—I need that confidence. And you saying essentially saying this is a lifelong gig where we continually grow from doing, is helpful and validating. Thanks!

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