I saw this quote from Ernest Hemingway on Google+ the other day. And while the title of this post is “Ernest Hemingway on Photography,” the quote itself was really about life. But I think it can apply to photography.

I look back at the 20-year-old version of myself when I thought I was immortal. I thought nothing could stop me and that I’d never die. I thought I knew it all and nobody could tell me anything. Wow was I wrong.

I wish I had seen this quote then.

As I look at myself as a photographer nearly four decades ago, I was impatient, impulsive, critical and demanding. Guess what – my photographs sucked back then. My pal – world famous wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis says “If you want to be a better photographer – be a better person.”

Hemingway is trying to tell us the same thing.

I relate much more as I age to the wisdom of Hemingway’s quote. I’ll re-tool this quote for photographers – I am sure many of you could do it better than I will but the point is to get you thinking about it.

“Before you make a photo, listen for the story you’re trying to tell.

Before you plop your camera and tripod down at the first pretty place you see, stop and explore – make sure it’s the BEST place to be.

Before thinking that you should be treated like a rock star photographer – spend some time paying your dues and assisting really great photographers who’ve earned the recognition you haven’t.

Before you get mad at yourself, your gear, your bad luck with a model not showing up or horrible light or bad weather, relax and wait for it to get better – reset.

Before you ask for help from a photo mentor – offer help to a newbie.

Before you decide that there’s nothing good out there to photograph, get up from your couch, turn off the TV and go look for a good story to tell with your camera.”

Ernest was known for his writing not his photography, but he’s got lots to share with those of us who are photographers – that is if we’re willing to stop obsessing over gear and f-stops and start using our heads and hearts to go do something marvelous.


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