If you want to be a good photographer, the camera should be the last thing on your mind. Ponder over the following points if you really want to enjoy shooting – as an amateur or as a professional:
- The camera does not matter: You don’t always need expensive cameras to take good photos. Make do with what you have – smartphones, point-and-shoots or basic DSLRs – and master these first. Under the right photographic conditions, most cameras will give you similar results. You need special gear only for sports, wildlife, low light and a few other exceptional situations. Upgrade only after you are ready to move into a higher orbit.
- Technology does much of the work for you – but the art is yours: The current crop of cameras are advanced enough to shoot great pictures with the minimum of fuss. You could shoot in Auto mode, or in Shutter or Aperture priority – the camera would figure other settings itself, and commendably so. What no camera will ever do is compose for you – how you frame the shot is an art only the photographer can decide. And that is what you need to work on most; hone your senses to be a good judge of what makes for appealing images.
- Always be a student: No matter what you do in life, never stop learning. Decline starts when you start believing you know it all. Work on upgrading your knowledge and skills on a continuous basis. Follow blogs and other repositories of information on the Internet – whatever you need to learn is out there. Read books and magazines. Observe a lot of photographs – online and in galleries. Your senses will get more artistic sub-consciously. Attend workshops and classes for structured learning, or pick up tips informally from other photographers and at lectures. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. We have all learnt from each other. A simple tip can do wonders for your photography. Learn from the Masters but don’t imitate them – develop your own style.
- The 20:80 rule of classroom learning: You could attend the best school in the world, but the classroom can only contribute 20 percent into making you a good photographer. The rest is what you do with yourself. You have to practice, put in the hard work, critique your work, learn, improve and then practice some more. There is no alternative to this.
- No substitute for hard work and odd hours: Photography is not for the lazy. You have to be willing to be on your feet for long hours, often at hours not to your liking. If you want to shoot the rising sun, you have to be up while the world sleeps. The sun will not change its schedule for you. Explore, and wait for surprises to pop up. I have captured many memorable images by just walking the streets; you cannot always pre-decided what you are going to shoot.
- Prepare yourself in advance for best results: Research your subject before going out to shoot. For example, if you are travelling, know the right time to shoot. Try to coincide your trip with events, natural phenomena or availability of subjects you seek. Browse the Internet to see what others have shot – get ideas, but don’t just imitate. Come back with your own unique shots. If you need permissions, have them in order. Carry back-up batteries, memory and even cameras if going to remote locations. Go fully prepared for best results lest you lose out for the wrong reasons.
- Travel light: Burdening yourself like a mule with equipment is not sexy; it is better to be practical than to go about making a statement. Carry only as much as you need. You don’t want to be weighed down with gear – and also be worried about losing something. Feel light in body and in mind to focus better on you art.
Take out your camera only after you have the above figured out. Happy clicking.
‘Photography Tips’ is a series of posts for all photographers including beginners, hobbyists, amateurs and even prosumers and professionals . What I share are not-so-technical but anecdotal and experiential tips. Follow all posts under the Photography Tips category – and feel free to post any further queries to me in comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to join an offline session on travel blogging / photography / filmmaking, check out the Kunzum Media Lab.