I am sure many photographers have heard “Wow! Your camera takes really nice photos…” or “Hey I saw your photos on Facebook, they are really nice. What camera you use”? Doesn’t it annoy you when they give all the credits to your camera and not you? Yes the camera takes really nice photos but when someone tells you that, they don’t really mean it in technical sense. Usually they see your edited photos afterwards and think that’s just the way it looks straight out of the camera. Someone that knows at least a bit about photography and says the same thing, they mean it in a whole different way. They are usually talking about the camera quality, ISO, performance, noise level and what not. So trust me when I say it’s not just the camera, there is more to it than just that expensive DSLR.
Every person with a brush and some paints isn’t Claude Monet or Van Gogh. There is a reason your wedding or fashion photographer didn’t upload or copy the photos on a CD and give it to you the next day. Honestly if you really saw the unedited photos, you wouldn’t be enjoying it as much as you do with the edited ones. That is why we ask for at least a month turn-around after the shoot to deliver the photos to you. Editing is a big part of this game and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It varies how much editing or style of editing with each photographer but essential part is that the finish product has to be nicely polished for viewing pleasure. So buying that DSLR is just the first step in the game or not even. If you just bought your first DSLR and disappointed with your photos, the answer is you need to learn about post processing. Even back in film days there was some sort of post processing in the darkroom to enhance the photos. Pick up a photo-editing software, play around with it, learn it and enhance your photos.
It is probably the best or worst time to start photography as a career. You have the best teacher to teach you about photography and it’s absolutely free! The Internet, it’s your teacher and best friend. You can just Google any term on photography and get hordes of results on the topic or go to YouTube and find hundreds of videos from basic photography to advance tips on how-to’s. As easy as this sounds, it’s also hard now because photography has gotten a lot easier and more people are picking it up so getting noticed in the crowd of photographers is very difficult. If you don’t want to be known as “every Tom, Dick and Harry running around with a DSLR think they are a photographer” then you are going to have to work a littler harder. When I say “work a little harder” I don’t mean emptying out your wallet by buying all the expensive camera gears. I mean LEARN. Learning and practicing is the best way you can become better at something and photography is no different. Honestly if you ask me, I would tell you to drop your DSLR, pick up a film camera and take a film photography course. I promise that you will love the experience in the darkroom developing your own photos. It’s magical the first time you see your photo appear in that blank sheet of white photo paper as soon as you put them through the chemicals. One might argue that’s it’s too much work and yes it is but you will appreciate photography more once you have experienced the old fashion method. Now of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean if you know film photography than you are a better photographer. There are many pro photographers that started with digital, in fact they didn’t even major in photography or art. It started out as a hobby and now they are world-famous photographers.
Reading is good and especially when the topic is on something that you love. Read about photography, get to know photographers, learn their style, appreciate their work, be open to criticism and that’s the best way you will improve your photography. Visit Barnes & Noble once in a while and pick up a book on photography. To start I would recommend the following books:
Understanding Exposure – By Bryan Peterson
This is a great book that anyone from beginner to intermediate photographer will enjoy or better yet if you are a photographer, keep this in your collection. It covers the basics of aperture, shutter, lighting and how to be creative with your shots. It also has plenty of beautiful example photos that you can look at for inspiration.
The Digital Photography Book Bundle – By Scott Kelby
Series of four books that are small and really fun to read and Scott Kelby’s humor is definitely something enjoyable while reading these books. These books are kind of like step by step guide starting from Volume 1 (first book) where you basically get the straight forward on how things work instead of all the technicality. Each book is one step up from its previous so it covers pretty much everything from beginner level to advance. Definitely something to add to your collection.
Besides books there are plenty of websites and blogs that I would recommend you visit often such as, FStoppers, Strobist, Popular Photography, Scott Kelby’s website/blog and finally if you want to see some serious eye-candy then visit Trey Ratcliff’s blog – Stuck In Customs. These are just few websites/blogs I visit often, there are many more that are interesting and worth your time.
Last but not least, I want to share some photos that I took with just a point-and-shoot camera. Like Chase Jarvis said “The best camera is the one with you all the time…” and it’s true. Sometimes you don’t need the best camera to take the best photo. When the subject presents its self, you have to be ready to capture it or it’s just another “what could have been” story. So at times I do find it easier to just carry a point-and-shoot and if not, there is always my iPhone camera to capture it. When you have the eye for creativity just a blank sheet of paper is enough. Often times I am mesmerized by the creativity that some artist create with very little provisions. This sort of inspiration is what moves us to go out there and create. Always be inspired, appreciate the work of others because you are also someone else’s inspiration.