Photog Breaks Down the 8 ‘Phases’ of Becoming a Photographer

The photographer’s “journey” is, generally speaking, a pretty predictable thing. We all go through certain “phases” as we pick up and learn this craft—some more gracefully than others—and so, in the spirit of lighthearted candor, photographer and YouTuber Evan Ranft has decided to share his take on the 8 major phases of being a photographer.

Obviously these phases aren’t set in stone, and some might feel out of place (or order) for you personally, but almost everybody will be able to recognize a few of these stages of the photographer’s journey … or maybe even identify the one that they’re in right now.

In brief, the 8 Phases that Ranft calls out are:

  1. The Mistaken Savant Phase – Early overconfidence built on the shaky foundation of the first few decent photos you make.
  2. The Watermark Phase – If you’re not putting a massive watermark on your photos, are you even a photographer!?
  3. The ‘Wow I’m Terrible’ Phase – The crushing realization that you’re not very good yet.
  4. The Overuse Phase – As you seek out educational content, you begin overusing all the new techniques you’ve been learning. There’s no such thing as “too much HDR” right?
  5. The Something is Missing Phase – A fresh learning phase driven by the desire to figure out what makes truly great photography, great.
  6. The Technical Application Phase – You begin to apply the technical lessons learned in Phase 5, and start achieving the results you’re looking for.
  7. The Humbled Photographer Phase – You realize how difficult it is to create truly great work, both technically and creatively speaking.
  8. The Rinse-and-Repeat Phase – A constant cycle of inspiration, learning, and application repeats over and over, hopefully making you a little better each time.

Check out the full video up top to dive into each of these a bit more deeply.

In our humble opinion, if there’s anything that’s missing from this list it’s the unfortunate off-ramps to things like never-ending technical obsession (call it “The Forum Warrior Phase”) and the occasional bouts of crushing self-doubt or lack of inspiration that assails us all (call it “The Maybe This Isn’t for Me Phase”).

What do you think? Did Ranft capture the overall photographer’s “journey” in these phases, or did he miss some critical piece of the puzzle? Let us know in the comments.