I just got a brand new toy: a Canon EOS Rebel T3 DSLR Camera, and it is awesome. I’ve long enjoyed taking pictures, and making cheeky little movies, but now that I have a newfangled piece of hardware I’m ready to take it to the next level. That’s right I’m joining the ranks of the annoying photography people. As such I have declared myself the king of photography, and the knower of all knowing. But what good is knowledge if you can’t share it with the masses. So here is an introductory lesson in photography courtesy of yours truly that I’m sure will devolve into a rant about internet phenomenons and a bunch of crap that will directly contradict what I’ve just said. Let’s Go!
1) There’e a difference between owning a nice camera and being a photographer
This is less of a photography tip and more of a commentary on pop culture.
It’s like calling yourself a writer because you own a pen. It’s not the device that makes you a photographer, it’s the skill to make really beautiful looking pictures that makes you a photographer. That’s not to say that you can’t become a true photographer, no one was ever born taking pictures, it’s a skill you have to learn and one you can learn with enough practice. But to insinuate that just because you have a nice camera you are a great photographer just because you dropped $800 dollars on a fancy DSLR camera doesn’t make you a photographer, and it is demeaning to the people out there who really know what they’re doing and have the skills to take really nice pictures. If your a casual photographer or a hobbyist, fine, just don’t call yourself a professional photographer and claim to start a company called “[Your Last Name] Photography”.
2) Just because a picture has filters doesn’t make it artsy
Everyone seems to think of themselves as professional photographers. And part of the reason why, aside from the fact that its fun, is because it seems really easy to take good looking artsy pictures. Except no, it really isn’t. Taking a nice looking picture is easy, most phones nowadays can take great pictures, and there are plenty of cheap cameras that take great looking pictures. There is a difference however, between good looking photographs and truly beautiful, or meaningful ones. Like I was just saying, even a really fancy camera will take great looking photographs, but it takes skill to take professional level ones. The problem comes in when people who don’t know what they are doing use filters as a way to supplement for their complete and utter lack of skill. I am referring of course, to the Instagram filter. I know you and your friends are like besties or whatever and you just had a really good time at the beach, cool, but putting the entire picture in a weird off-sepia whatever the hell color that Instagram filter is does not make it a good picture. Same thing is true of black and white. Keep taking pictures of trash all you want, but putting them in black and white is not going to make them any more meaningful, in the end it’s still just trash. I will say that there is a time and a place for filters (not so much Instagram as black and white), but a filter will only amplify the beauty or meaning of a photo, it will not create it where there is none.
3) Take a lot of Pictures
Take pictures of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. The worst thing you can do in photography is not take a picture. But don’t just take one picture of something then walk on to something else, take 8, take 20! The first picture you take of something is rarely the best, keep taking more pictures, take them from different angles, take them with different levels of zoom. Keep taking pictures until you can’t take them anymore, and then and only then may you move on. Each picture is an opportunity, an opportunity to take that picture that blows away your friends, the one that makes passersby faint in it’s awesomeness, the picture that is so good, it gets it’s holiday in its honor. There are only two acceptable reasons to stop taking pictures: You’ve just been mortally wounded (and even then a few pictures of the attacker wouldn’t hurt), or you’ve run out of battery and you already used up your back up battery. So get out there and take all the pictures, all of them!
4) Know where to start
Not all pictures are created equally some are easier to take than others. If you’re a noob like me I’d recommend starting with Macros. If you don’t know Macros is basically just a name for a picture that’s taken reeeeally close to whatever your photographing. So like all those flowery backgrounds that you set as your cover photo on Facebook, those are Macros. They’re super easy to take, and with a good camera they look reeeeeally nice. After that I’d recommend Landscapes, they’re more about being in the right place, than anything else. The next hardest thing to photograph is animals, mostly because it’s hard to get them to sit still. And lastly is people. Sure any dumbass can take a bunch of pictures of their friends, but to take a truly beautiful one takes some know-how.
5) Read a book
In the world of photography I am a total noob. Sure I’ve taken plenty of pictures, and plenty of ones I thought looked great, but I don’t know jack. I am by no means a photographer, I am a hobbyist, at most an apprentice (although I prefer the term noob). Hell I still use the auto settings on my cameras. I terms of depth of knowledge, I rank near the bottom. So there is nothing I can tell you that will instantly turn you into an amazing photographer (although I don’t know why you would expect me to). I can’t even tell you how to be an average photographer, all I can to is share with you my observations and point you in the right direction. Like I may or may not have said in the intro, photography is fun, and totally a hobby worth diving into. But if you are going to be a photographer you have to realize that your first 5000 photos are going to suck, hell I know mine do. You have to recognize that photography is a skill that takes practice, it’s not something that you can say, “Oh I’m amazing, I’m going to instantly be good at it.” If you go in with that mindset, it’s not going to be fun, because your going to take ugly photos and get discouraged. So go read a book, or watch some youtube how to videos, or talk to a professional photographer, learn from someone who knows what they’re doing, and not only will you take better pictures, but you’ll have more fun too.