Photography is an essential part of visual arts and design, as well as advertising. In this modern age where almost anyone can take great pictures with just their smartphone, what separates a professional photographer from a casual hobbyist who likes to dabble? Apart from getting paid, professional photographers have the experience and a trained eye to back them up. Some techniques don’t come with the box of smartphones or even professional cameras, and photography principles are acquired not just through reading but through practice.
So where does one start from a hobbyist to becoming a pro? From what best first camera to buy to what type of photography you should get into, we’ll try to understand here.
What Camera Should You Buy
Start by considering the type of camera you want, then your budget. An entry-level DSLR with a kit lens is the usual go-to if you want to understand the technicalities of handling pro cameras. There are many available in the market that isn’t expensive. One downside of getting a DSLR is that it’s quite heavy. A mirrorless camera is much lighter in your hands but could be heavier in your pocket, depending on brand and model.
While a more expensive, more professional model could give you features that might help you take good photos, it won’t guarantee consistency if you are a beginner. Skills come largely from the photographer and less from the equipment.
“The best camera is the one you have,” is what famous photographer Chase Jarvis said. If you are just starting, don’t think about the best equipment just yet. Instead, focus on getting better by taking tons and tons of pictures. Study photography techniques and apply them. You will have used up so many memory cards by the time you can actually decide with good judgment what next camera to get.
Study and Practice
If you have been taking pictures from your smartphone and producing good ones, you might be a bit surprised that the same won’t come out of your DSLR right away. Learn about how to operate a professional camera. Things like aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and white balance are equally important in taking good quality pictures.
It’s also just as important to have an outside perspective when you are still learning. Sometimes, what we think is an okay-looking photo might actually have a lot more room for improvement. This is where joining a community comes in. Join photography clubs, attend a photowalk, or post your pictures on online photography groups and forums for comments and critique. Remember that your goal is to improve, so take constructive criticism and ignore trolls who do not contribute substantial comments to your pictures and posts.
Practice With a Goal in Mind
You might struggle to practice taking pictures if you don’t know what to take, so work on an end goal every time you practice. For example, if you learn about shutter speed, choose whether you want to go for slow or fast shutter speed. Then set your goal to be able to take at least ten good pictures. Water seems to be a common subject for this, so if you have a water fountain at home, go ahead and practice different shutter speeds on it. Fast shutter speed will capture the droplets vividly, while slow shutter speed will make the water look smooth and silky like a blanket.
If you are past the basics, a good exercise is to take advantage of your knowledge of composition. The simple rule of thirds can make your photos very interesting if used creatively. Therefore, instead of just thinking about composition and subject, pick a theme, too. Fruits are overused in composition practice, so why not common household objects? If you are feeling a bit bolder, how about zodiac signs? Use objects of a similar color palette to convey a zodiac, like red for Aries or green for Taurus. Photography is a powerful skill, and you can use anything to take good pictures.
Don’t Think About Your Niche Yet
Experimenting with different styles and compositions might make you a bit too excited to figure out what your specialty is as a photographer. But before all that, you must first know as much as you can about as many aspects of photography as you can. Unless you’ve already decided what you want to do as a photographer from the get-go, it’s better to know and exhaust your options first. This way, not only will you have good versatility as a pro, but you will also open more avenues for earning.