- Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
- Photography for Beginners: The Essentials You Must Know
- Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
One thing I don't like about us photographers in general is that we are vulnerable to certain threats. And one of the most serious threats is coming from camera manufacturers, and to be more specific, they’re marketing departments.
For many years, they've gotten photographers, beginners especially, to think that in order to take awesome, professional looking photos, they have to buy the latest, most expensive gear and to replace it every two years when something better comes out. This is one of the worst propagandas we are constantly being exposed to, and needless to say, it’s far from the truth. A photographer is just like a musician: it’s the talent and skills that count a lot more than the instrument. We have five steps that will help you take amazing pictures with whatever gear you're using and break this spell that camera companies have put on you.
1. Master exposure
The first step is something you must learn how to do regardless of the camera you're using. It can be your iPhone or a digital medium format camera, it doesn't matter. Getting the exposure right is essential. It all comes with a little practice and combining shutter speed, aperture and ISO.
(Success Tip: Master exposure with a simple deck of cards here)
2. Think outside the box
This sounds like an overused cliché, but it’s a good expression for the message I want to send. Everybody tends to photograph in landscape mode from eye level, especially in the first few months. Imagination is not just about choosing a cool subject, it’s also about how you photograph it. Always look for a more interesting perspective, no matter what you're shooting. Learn the rules well enough to be comfortable to break them.
3. Be selective with light
Having your camera with you all the time is a good idea, but shooting non-stop isn’t. In time, you will learn the difference between good light and bad light. Keep in mind we’re talking about the most essential component of any photograph. Once you learn to be a little bit more selective about the time you go shooting and how the lighting conditions are, you'll start getting more and more good results and less failed attempts. No matter what camera you use, if the light is dramatic or spectacular, it will show in your photos. That’s what you want, not a $3,000 camera to shoot portraits at noon.
4. Love what’s in your bag
I see a lot of photographers being frustrated with their gear. Whether it’s an older camera or an entry-level model, a lot of them don't even feel like shooting anymore because they believe their cameras aren't good enough. I would like to remind all those photographers that there are currently photography exhibitions in museums around the world that were created with iPhones. An old or cheap camera is no excuse for not shooting, for not wanting to perfect your craft. Whatever it is that you're using, love that camera and lens and show the world that gear is not a real limitation.
5. Work on timing
Timing is one of the most difficult parts of being a good photographer, especially if you're into sports, street or documentary photography. It’s all about the decisive moment Bresson was telling us about. With today’s cameras it’s a lot easier because you get very high frame rates. Still, it’s a game of anticipation to have your finger on the shutter release at exactly the right time. It all comes with practice and a trained eye can take months or years to develop. Once you have a feel for the right moment, you'll start getting those awesome results.
Now that you know what these five steps are, it’s time to put them into practice. Before you do, always keep in mind the most important lesson: it’s all about who is behind the camera. Good luck!