Don’t Wait for the Phone to Ring

I am often asked by photographers just starting out what advice I can offer.  Here are some tips which might be a good start.

Insatiable Curiosity
Being curious about life and things around you is an essential part of being a good photographer.
Hard work
Any endeavor, any profession requires a serious commitment and effort and hard work. Unless you are willing to commit to that, it’s best not to begin the journey.
Leave home
Leave home or leave your comfort zone. Being a good photographer doesn’t necessarily mean you travel to distant
places, but you do need to get out of your comfort zone and explore,  wander and observe.
Fortitude and Determination
At times, there’s a lot of pick and shovel work to photography or any other profession, and you have to be ready to work your way through these tedious times.
Dig Deep
The process of learning never stops, but at a point it’s all kind of automatic in a way. If you look at the photographers whose work is widely admired you’ll see that  they’ve found a particular place or a subject, dug deep into it, and carved out something that’s become special.
Evolve, reinvent yourself, grow
You need to keep your heart and mind open. Life is  flowing in front of your eyes and you need to be open to respond and allow yourself to be touched by things which are extraordinary and let it change you.

BIO-10072Don’t wait for the phone to ring
Regardless of how successful you are, it’s important for you to spend your time photographing things that matter to you.  You need to understand the things that have meaning to you, and not what others think is important for you. Make things happen; don’t wait for others to offer opportunities.   Follow up.  Don’t wait for the phone to ring.  Pick up the phone and call.


Kabul, Afghanistan, 1992


59 Responses to “Don’t Wait for the Phone to Ring”

  1. […] entrada original en inglés podéis encontrarla en el blog de […]

  2. Anonymous Says:

    i should definitely do some of these… Especially the 2nd one…
    Thanks a lot… I had got into something of a creative vaccum lately… This helps

  3. Thanks for your post Steve. Appreciate you giving your time and advice to us!

  4. It’s interesting to know there many different ways of approaching your photography, i just saw a documentary about Sally Mann, a photographer who creates art without leaving her farm, she says ‘I can only create art when i know my subject very intimidly’
    There are a thousand ways to skin a cat¡

  5. All the 7 tips are equally important for any wedding photographer. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Good web site! I really love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your RSS which must do the trick! Have a nice day!

  7. […] “ Regardless of how successful you are, it’s important for you to spend your time photographing thin… – Steve Mc Curry “ […]

  8. […] Steve McCurry offers some advice to photographers just starting out in a post titled Don’t Wait For The Phone To Ring. Very wise advice […]

  9. Thank you for this article! It was really interesting to read and I’ll try to live according to ideas, which were posted here!

  10. Dig deep – absolutely yes. The sanest advice you could have given.

  11. […] Steve says: Don’t Wait for the Phone to Ring Steve McCurry, one of the best – he nails it. LINK I am often asked by photographers just starting out what advice I can offer.  Here are some tips […]

  12. […] Prendre’s  aquests consells al peu de la lletra no estarà malament si ens hi volem dedicar, però sinó sempre podem relativitzar-ho, i així faran de més bon llegir aquestes directrius per a joves fotògrafs que hi han a la seva web i que va fer per a les moltes sol·licituds que rebia de gent demanant-li consell. Seria una traducció una mica lliure i aproximada d’aquest article. […]

  13. Claudio Says:

    Thanks, Steve!

  14. […] La traducción es del blog Ver para creer y la entrada original de McCurry podéis encontrarla en su blog. […]

  15. Poklah Says:

    Wow. I’m speechless.
    I’m really new in photography, and my interest is in human portraits depicting true emotions.

    I just found this blog, and suddenly I know that I’m your fan.

    Thank you for these beautiful photos…

  16. wow..i agreed with that..these tips are so good, i one of the fans of u^^

  17. […] “ Regardless of how successful you are, it’s important for you to spend your time photographing thin… – Steve Mc Curry “ […]

  18. […] Articles I find (here’s a few) 25 Nostalgic Photos… | Boarding Pass Design | Don’t wait for the phone to ring | What we do matters more than labels | Sleeveface Photography | 141 best ‘Guess?’ ads […]

  19. Thank you Steve!

    These are such wonderful tips. I do wonder how many times have you been to Afghanistan?

    What made you decide on your subjects and topics?

    Thank you so much for posting these images!

    Hassan Arshad

    • Hassan,

      I have been to Afghanistan at least 40 times over the past thirty years.
      I have many friends there, and always look forward to my next trip.

      Thanks for reading the blog.

  20. […]  In this area family commitments, job and TV held peoples attention so adding to these was a major want. Finding the “sell” feature a major […]

  21. These statements are so true to many different things in life.

  22. Steve,
    A couple days ago, in response to a discussion about photography books I posted this on Luminous Landscape Forum->The Art of Photography->But Is it Art? I think it’s a pretty sure bet I’m right:

    I think McCurry is going to become the Cartier-Bresson of the early 21st century — not in the sense that his photographs are like HCB’s, but in the sense that he’ll dominate the field the same way Henri did early last century. His work is phenomenal. Steve McCurry has established a transition from B&W to color in photographing people that’s like no one else’s. I think it’s going to be definitive — the standard for at least the next couple decades.

  23. sassi haviv Says:

    hey steve:)
    i am sure you are so busy so thank you for putting the time. i started photography 2 years ago and picking up more and more.. published about 20 travel images on 1x
    and now i need to make the leap so i cn continue to do what i love best which is interacting with people. i hope you find the time to look at my profile at 1x and maybe have a suggestion
    thank you

  24. Dear Steve,thanks a lot for your wonderful images…………..
    my best wishes for you

  25. Thank you very much for these lessons, Steve. Learning, wandering, opening his mind, all is right.

  26. Hi Steve. I am a novice…just fallen in love with photography and wish to explore the world as you do.

    As a female, personal safety is a big concern traveling alone with photo gears…wonder if you have any advice for lone female photographers traveling in remote places?


    Sincerely, Niabail

  27. Lori Kuhn Robinson Says:

    it seems you do know what youare talking a bout- comm/eff/hrd wrk/ fort/det/ —-i like the pick and shovel concept.

  28. hi Steve, i met you in Huelva, spain, the last year, in the photo festival. i was working in the local press in these times.
    i like a lot your advice, but maybe, my favorite is to have Insatiable Curiosity, it makes all! is as i think.
    thanks for share your knowledge in this blog, i’ll follow you!

  29. missbite Says:

    Hi Steve, first of all I’d like to thank you for your advice, this week-end I’m going to visit your exposition in Milan in order to get some inspiration. As a matter of fact I would like to turn my passion for photojournalism into a real job. Too many people tell me what kind of job or career should I follow. On the contrary I want to do something that makes me feel good, strong and satisfied, something like me. My ideas still are confused, this is why I wonder if there are any opportunities for a young-confused girl like me in this world.

  30. Hi Steve,

    Very inspiring advice, Thank you for the knowledge you share. I’m a wedding photographer and your photos inspire me. It tells a story..

  31. Kara Brooks Says:

    Hi Steve,

    That is very good advice, I will also be posting a blog today about Marketing on the web. I hope it would be ok to post a link to your blog as well.

    I will defiantly keep an eye on yours. It is good.:)

  32. Great advice, Steve. I’m not a photographer but a writer, and it’s still great advice.

    I really like your blog, so I’ve featured you on my blog as a “Photo Follow,” a sort of shout-out to photographers. Have a look… Hopefully you like it.

  33. Thank you for your advice. Any plans of visiting Sweden soon? I would really like to see your pictures.

    Nice blog:)

  34. I was searching for digital photography when I found your site. Great post. Thank You.

  35. Der Suchende Says:

    Hi steve,

    today i ve been to your exibit in Milan. I ve come here just to thank you, your photography always are able to touch me, i travel trough your travels, i find myself lost in the eyes of the people you shouted, i smell the wind and i feel the breeze. thanks again.

  36. Maurizio Benadon Says:

    Nice Steve, this sounds so true!!

  37. I guess these advices go for writing as well. Thanks.

  38. Steve,

    thanks for this very valuable knowledge….

  39. Thanks a lot, you are just best.

  40. Ouch. Ouch. Please get outta my head. (I’m going, I’m going…)

  41. ankur verma Says:

    till now i was waiting for the phone to ring……this blog might change it…..thanks sir

  42. Like fresh air. Sometimes is easy to forget why we started to photograph. I hope meet you in Brazil. Happy new year.

  43. As a junior in high school I am much in awe at your photographs. I am in fact writing a short paper in my photography class about your career in photojournalism. While I was gathering information about your life everything seemed so simple as to travel to a place you love and spend the days photographing whatever you like. Now i must be missing something or everyone would start a career in photography. As an aspiring college student, with a love for traveling and photography, would you suggest a career in photography, why or why not?

  44. You are right in “Don’t wait for the phone to ring”, but it’s difficult sometimes.

    My biggest passion is photography. A friend of mine next year will spend some time in India. He is already taking contacts with some monasteries. I would like so much take the phone in order to tell that I will join him,.. but I’m worried about Indian cuisine:)

  45. Thank for your advise ! I agree at all.
    A single problem. Call & call to get answers about my proposals and don’t answer. Some editors in Spain are too busy. The problem is it’s my best customer.

  46. Thanks for sharing this advice Steve. Should be part of every photographers’ creed and to look to for inspiration.

  47. Hi Steve,

    I am a big fan of your work:) I cannot join your 2010 workshop but I will definitely make time for it 2011 wherever it may be but hopefully Asia.

    Relating to this blog entry, when you went to Afghanistan before the Russian revolution, for sure that was not your comfort zone. Did you feel you had to do it to make something out of your work? I hope you don’t mind me asking.

    Photography has been a long time hobby of mine (Amateur alert) and wanting to make something out of it now. I don’t know where to start. So, thank you very much for this entry. It does help. Ticked 3 out of 5 from your list already.


  48. Igor Firdauzi Says:

    thanks for the tips, i will practice them during this holiday season

  49. Thanks for sharing with us this advices Steve. I specially love the last one: “Dont wait for the phone ring…”.


  50. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for these advices.

    Whenever we photograph something, our personal feeling gets involve in it and we compose accordingly.

    Why I mentioning this, is because I have seen result of “Asia Without Borders 2009” contest of national geography magazine and first price winner photograph was taken with wrong intentions. I am not sure if you agree or disagree with my thoughts.


  51. […] I am often asked by photographers just starting out what advice I can offer.  Here are some tips  which might be a good start. […]

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for sharing with the world (and the few Americans that can pull away from the TV and look outside the incubator we live in), the inconceivable mess that the so-called developed world has created in the name of…progress.

      As for your advice to photographers, “Just pick up the phone”, it holds so true. I’ve always equated this to the heebie-jeebies I had in college before calling to ask that special girl on a date… just pick up the phone.

      Please continue to amaze and inspire the image-viewing public.

      Chris Collard
      Adventure Architects Photography

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