Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
If you’re new to the photography game, it can be overwhelming. You’re probably stressed about trying to start making money, or if it’s a hobby then you’re stressed about being able to see out your artistic vision.
But, there are a few questions that every pro photographer is tired of hearing, and not because it’s annoying to answer them but because the answers to these questions really won’t help you to get better at being a photographer.
That being the case, here’s a few photography questions you should stop asking...
“I’m Taking a (Insert Type of Shot Here). What Exposure Settings Should I Use?”
Photo by James Bold on Unsplash
People love asking this question because they assume you can use your exposure settings the same exact way for a particular shoot (like a portrait) everytime.
Your exposure settings are difficult to learn because they aren’t formulaic. If they were, photography would be rather boring, and these annoying beginner photography questions wouldn’t exist.
Sure, there are some general rules you can use to get a well-exposed photo - baseline suggestions for portrait photography or landscape photography - but the specific settings you use are situation-specific. There’s simply no exact answer to this question, just suggestions!
The best way for you to learn what exposure settings you want to use for a particular shoot is to get out there and start experimenting.
If it’s really bothering you and you want to use another photographer’s exposure settings as a guide, try rephrasing the question. A simple, “I have my shutter speed at 1/125, do you think that’s appropriate for this shoot?” will get you so much farther.
“Do I Really Need Filters?”
Photo by stock_colors via iStock
Yes, you need filters!
Though programs like Photoshop and Lightroom offer very powerful editing tools that can correct some of the issues that filters correct, the effect simply is not the same. You just get higher-quality results when using filters.
This is especially true with a circular polarizer, because despite the power behind today's editing programs, the effect a polarizer has simply cannot be replicated in post-processing.
When shopping for a filter system, it's important that you don't skimp and get bargain-basement filters. Cheap filters just don't work as well as quality filters, so investing in a quality system from the get-go is the way to do it.
I personally recommend Marumi's magnetic filter system because it's both well-made and easy to use.
Marumi uses the finest materials to ensure its products are durable and perform at their peak.
For example, the M100 filter holder shown above is made of lightweight aircraft aluminum that will stand the test of time.
The gaskets on the front of the holder make light leaks a thing of the past, while the magnetic attachment makes for easy changes of filters.
So, you can start with a solid ND filter for extending the shutter speed and getting dreamy motion in your photos, then swap it out for a graduated ND filter for managing the dynamic range of a beautiful landscape with a bright sky above it.
What's more, you can add a circular polarizer to the mix (shown above), which will reduce atmospheric haze, boost contrast in the sky, and minimize glare off non-metallic surfaces, ensuring that your landscape photos are beautifully rich in detail.
And since this filter system is magnetic, it couldn't be easier to use. You'll spend less time fiddling around with your gear and more time actually taking photos!
What's not to like about that?!
“What Lens Should I Buy to Take Photos Like You?”
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
This question works hand-in-hand with my first question. Just because you’re using the same exposure settings as I am doesn’t mean our finished product will look identical. The same can be said for lenses - it’s not the lens that makes the photo, it’s the person using it!
Besides, beginner photography gear is cheaper than professional photography gear, and you can use this to your advantage.
I especially hate this question because it makes me feel guilty. I’ve been in the industry for many years and I’ve made enough money to buy some expensive lenses.
If I tell a beginning photographer what lens I’m using and they immediately begin looking it up on Amazon, I don’t want them to feel like they need to purchase that lens if they want to take photos like me.
Which leads me into the most annoying question I get from beginner photographers…
“How Much Was Your Gear?”
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Yikes. This hypothetical question is making me cringe.
The answer is a lot. Some of my equipment is expensive. As any photographer who makes a living from photography will tell you, a good chunk of our salary gets turned back around and is put into our business.
If I’m not spending my client’s money on my mortgage, I’m probably saving it for a new lens!
But, in the same breath, I own some very cheap equipment. I have been in situations where I’ve DIYed a filter before and it worked out so well that I kept it.
photo by welcomia via iStock
The reason I don’t think this question is helpful to beginning photographers is because usually the price of your equipment doesn’t tell you anything except how long that person has been doing photography professionally.
Unless they are bankrolled by a trust fund, many photographers take a fair portion of their expendable income for the year and save it to purchase new equipment. If I’ve been doing that for 15 years, then my equipment will be more expensive than someone who has only been doing it for 2.
Plus, the price of your equipment definitely does not mean you are a better or worse photographer.
This question is also misleading because I buy almost all of my lenses secondhand.
If you ask me how much my equipment costs, I will likely ignore the question and point you in the direction of a good secondhand shop, like Lensfinder.
Beginner photographers can save so much money by buying their equipment secondhand, yet most beginner photographers I know don’t take advantage of it.
While a kit lens will work for you for a while, eventually you will need to upgrade.
Lensfinder is a great starting point because it’s a community of photographers selling their old equipment, so all of your photography questions can be answered by the seller, unlike other websites like Amazon.
Stop googling, “how to get better at photography,” and start by saving some cash and buying one or two lenses to practice with!