Hi all and welcome to Photography Tips and How to’s.
When I first started out, I grabbed a camera and started shooting anything I thought was worthy of being shot. I did absolutely no research about how to use my camera, I never tried to plan how I could take a certain shot, and I didn’t ask for any help.
I thought, as a lot of young people do, that I could learn it as I’m doing it; the more photos I take, the better I’d get, right?
Not so much.
As any good Photographer will tell you, you need to swallow that pride and realise that you can’t do it all on your own. There’s only so much you can teach yourself, so you need to learn from someone; whether it be a blog, Facebook group, a YouTube video or, as crazy as this will sound in this age of technical superiority, a real live person. Just make sure that which ever one of these methods you use, (I recommend all of them and more) that you get good old fashioned honest critique from people who know what they are talking about.
So, without further adieu, here is my list of things you need to do to seek out the right help in order to further your knowledge in Photography.
1) Join a Facebook Photography Group
I’ve said this before in a post I wrote a few weeks back, Going back to my Roots, and to me, it’s still one of the best things you can do as a beginner. The range in abilities in Groups like this allows you to be able to see the quality of work you can be aiming to achieve or even surpass. These groups are full of beginners and old hats aplenty; most of the old guard are more than happy to give advice and pointers to people. You don’t necessarily need to post your photos in the groups straight away; (although you should look to contribute to the group in some way) showing your images to people can be very daunting, particularly to beginners. However, you can sit back and look through other peoples work and see what kind of feedback they are receiving and whether or not you understand where people might be going wrong with certain aspects of their technique.
2) Watch YouTube Tutorials
Don’t get me wrong, YouTube isn’t perfect. There’s a hell of a lot of Photography tutorials out there for you to watch that will make you want to either put your fist through the screen or simply switch off, throw your camera in the bin and take up golf. This type of video is normally by someone who is generically regurgitating a Professionals tutorial into their own words with poorly edited and poorly shot film; normally with dull and uninspiring results.
Good videos are normally popular videos. I realise how patronising that may sound, but it really is as simple as seeing how many views a video has and what the “Thumbs Up” to “Thumbs Down” ratio is (don’t get me wrong, that method isn’t fool-proof, but it’s a good place to start). Check out Adorama TV (no, they aren’t sponsoring me to say this, but hey, who knows after this blog right?) particularly Gavin Hoey, Mark Wallace and my personal favourite, Bryan Peterson. You’ll learn a hell of a lot from these guys as they have a knack of being able to explain complicated aspects of Photography in a non brain melting fashion. Trust me, if I can understand it, anyone can!
3) Ask a Pro for advice
Please don’t knock on Michael Kenna’s door and ask him to show you where the Shutter Priority mode is on your DSLR. He won’t answer the door.
Look for Pros on Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media sites and see if they are the kind to respond to questions. Not all will, and it’s not because they don’t speak to “Proles” like us; they’re more than likely busy or unable to respond to the millions of questions they would receive from wannabe ‘Togs. You could checkout their website and look for descriptions of how certain images were shot; a lot of ‘Togs enjoy explaining the techniques involved around their work. Check out 500px or Flickr to engage with some of the best Photographers around.
4) Join a Camera Club
I’ve left this one until last as a lot of Photographers I’ve spoken to are indifferent about them. Generally, these clubs are great for meeting like-minded people who share a love for all things Photography. You’ll meet some great people, get some good advice and be opened up to new ideas and experiences that you just don’t get from the internet. Real people, face to face.
With that said however, you’ll be forced, like me and my Father-in-law before me, to go through what can be only described as “meeting the Techy-twat”.
Every Camera Club has one. The loud, over the top member of the club who likes to brag about how good their equipment is, how expensive it is, and what every single specification means. The guy who can quote you the serial number of every single lens they’ve ever owned, and how you really should upgrade your camera to a one like theirs. The same guy who brags about the superiority of their lens yet only ever seems to have pictures of their cats. Badly taken pictures of their cats.
Trust me, you’ll meet them. If you, unlike me, can handle that meeting and not want to stick hot pins in their eyes and never come back, then I would definitely recommend joining one.
Lastly, I would say that it’s important for you to try multiple sources; you’ll soon learn who to listen to and who to ignore.
And walk. Don’t run.
Becoming a Photographer is a slow-burner; it certainly doesn’t happen over night, (unless you’re the “Techy-twat” and of course, you’ve always been great….) but it’s well worth the wait and the effort.
I’m off to take some photographs of my cats with my absolutely amazing equipment……..