How to Get Started with Photography #67

Photo Tips Podcast: How to Get Started with Photography #67

Photo Tips Podcast: How to Get Started with Photography #67

Photo Tips Podcast: How to Get Started with Photography #67
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Photo Tips Podcast: How to Get Started with Photography #67

I recently saw someone ask on Facebook, “How do I get started in photography, because I’m starting from zero?” For me it's hard to imagine anyone who is starting photography from zero, especially now. If you've had any kind of smart phone or even a flip phones in the past 20 years you will have had a camera in your hands. And the thing is, I cannot imagine anyone who has never had a camera before, just waking up one day and just thinking, “I’d like to do photography! I wonder how that works?” If you are thinking that you want to get more into photography as a hobby or as a pro, in the least you’ve probably taken some photos and have found the experience to be fun. And that's why you want to do more. My point is that you didn’t start from zero.

So let’s start from there: you’ve had at least some experience even if it’s just on a smart phone, how do you move the ball further down the road? In my opinion, you have to first identify what you enjoy about photography. Is it the act of creating a photo or it is it the process of taking a photo. If it’s the later then you don’t actually want to become a photographer; what you want to do is you want to become a photo assistant. If it’s the former, my question is, “What subject matter do you enjoy photographing?” From there just start taking pictures of those things. Use your auto modes, use whatever lens or lenses you have at your disposal. Use whatever camera you have at your disposal. Look at other people’s work of the same types of subject matter. See if you can replicate that work with the equipment you have available. Then when you hit a wall and you can’t seem to get exactly what it is you want then it’s time to figure out whether it is a lack of knowledge or a lack of equipment. The problem is, most people go to the lack of equipment thing first. But I have come to find that unless you are doing something really specialized like underwater or macro photography and certain types of astro photography your problem is not equipment. The problem is usually a lack of understanding of how the camera works and a lack of visual understanding‚Ķ that’s the composition thing. But even here, most people are leveraging too much of their time on the technical, rather than the artistic. What’s going on is that people most often divert their attention to the low hanging fruit hoping that it will fix their photography woes. Buying more equipment is really easy, you just have to have the pocket book for it. And the technical parts of photography? Well that’s a little bit harder but in reality, it’s actually pretty easy too. Although for many this seems a bit daunting it’s actually much easier than the artistic side of photography because you can learn the technical stuff from a book or from Youtube.

If you can get in front of a live instructor, you can cut the learning curve significantly because you can ask specific questions when you get lost. But the artistic or compositional aspects of photography cannot be learned from a book and it cannot be learned or taught overnight. Despite that, many will try to reduce it to one of three things: the rule of thirds, the Fibonacci rule (also known as the Golden Ratio) and leading lines. The fact is that composition cannot be reduced to a flow chart. You can’t simply say “all you need to do is to place these elements in these places in your frame and your images will magically look great.” Art simply does not work like that. Your composition is not just about where the elements are in your frame, it’s a matter of self-expression. It takes time to learn and to nurture and to mature that vision. It’s also about personal honesty, in other words I’m talking about self-awareness; in my opinion, in order to express yourself, you need to know who you are, and that takes at least some self awareness. As a result of this, it’s something that should be constantly changing throughout your life as your vision of the world and yourself changes and as the world changes around you. There are no shortcuts to learning how to express yourself and it is very difficult to grow as an artist without a community which allows you a place to discuss your art which to some extent is an expression of who you are.

In my opinion, to get into photography, you just need to keep shooting and analyzing your work. And you need to find a community in which you can have meaningful conversations.

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