Advice for the beginner and everyone else too.

Photography is a hobby that has become more and more accessible and more people are getting into it. Today’s technology has made photography gear more plentiful than ever before. With computers, phones and tablets and constant access to the network people are able to share their photos with an ever growing audience. It is easier to find examples of every type of photograph; everything from very bad to holy cow that is amazing. In my view there are three main challenges that face budding photographers; those challenges are the amount of gear that is available, the number of photographic styles to choose from and the amount of photographs that have already been done, and the always mounting fear that no one will like your photographic work.

The first concern a budding photographer has is for the gear; not the cost of the photographic gear but the amount of equipment that there is to choose from. A person can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars on equipment. Yes there is a lot of photographic gear on the market and it can be very intimidating because everyone has an opinion on which brands and model styles are the best of each item. When you are deciding which photography gear to purchase there are two main things you should remember; first your budget and second as Percy W. Harris says “Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase.”

The first thing is your budget; get the gear you can afford. You do not have to have the latest and greatest gear to make the best pictures. You don’t have to have ten different lenses for every situation you might find yourself. You don’t have to have enough flashes to make midnight as bright as noon day. I have been a serious photographer for five years now, I started out with a Nikon d5100, an 18-55mm lens, a 55-300mm lens and one inexpensive flash. I am still using a Nikon d5100, an 18-55mm lens, a 55-300mm lens and one inexpensive flash; I have only recently acquired a second inexpensive flash. I don’t have the budget to upgrade my equipment and I don’t have the need to upgrade my gear yet. I get better photos with the gear I have then a lot of people that have more expensive and a lot more gear then I do.

On the Fence

I took this photo with a point and shoot camera. I feel that one reason I get better shots with my gear then some people get with more expensive gear is because of two things; the first is that I have invested in my photography education and the second is I have focused on learning how to use the gear I already have. By learning to use the equipment I have and by educating myself on the photography fundamentals I have learned that I don’t need high dollar equipment to get high end pictures.  I have been able to get two of my photos published with the gear I have.

The second concern I think budding photographers have is that when they see all the photos that are out there they may feel that they have to have a completely original idea. Well photography has been around a long time and I am here to tell you that it has all been photographed.   But has it been photographed by you? There is a barn in my area that has been photographed by a lot of people and I thought it has been done, I need something new. Then I stopped myself and thought “Yes it has been done by a lot of people, but I don’t have a photo of it. It has not been done by me.” It is not necessary to have a completely original idea, in the business world R&D which stands for Research & Development but in the photography world to me R&D stands for Rip-off & Duplicate. It is Ok to get inspiration from another photographers work. I have done shots that were inspired by some of Ansel Adams work; I have one that was inspired by a photo from Peter Lik. The fear that everything has already been done can stop a lot of budding photographers, the question becomes will it stop you?

The third concern I think a lot of budding photographers have is whether or not anyone will like their work. A friend of mine once told me that of all the people that view your work there will be 1% of those people who will like it and of that 1% there will be 1% that will pay money for your work. If most of the people who view your work are not going to like it, does that mean it is a bad photograph? Of course not; there is only one person that really has to like your work and that is you. I can sum up this third fear budding photographers have in one sentence; if you are not passionate about your photography no one else is going to be either. Your passion, or lack thereof, will show through in your photographs. So don’t worry that no one else is going to like your shot; take it anyway.

I have seen a lot of articles online asking what the best lens or other piece of gear is for a type of photography, the answer to this question is the piece of gear that you can afford. Remember I am still using my kit lenses and a couple of inexpensive flashes and I have photos published in a magazine. What makes a great photo is not the gear that was used to create the image but the composition, the lighting, and the subject matter.

Everything has been photographed; all the ideas are taken; who cares shoot it anyway. Figure out what your style is and take the shot with your flare and yes there are going to be a lot of people who are not going to like your photograph; so what. The only person who has to like your work is you, however; if you focus on the fundamentals and on executing your craft at the highest level you can than have a greater chance of people liking your photograph.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to any budding photographer is to learn about your craft. Educate yourself about photography and what makes a good photo. The best photographers are always learning and trying to improve. If you get nothing else out of this remember these two things; don’t kill your dreams… EXECUTE them and the biggest room in this world, is the room for improvement.


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