Posting images on social media can suck you into the notion that the number of likes equates to the quality of the image. This just isn’t the case. A truly stunning photo might not get many likes at all; that doesn’t change the fact that it’s stunning. Conversely, a technically awful photo might get tons of likes. It’s often just not a worthwhile means of judging the quality of your work.
The majority of images you post on social media won’t get constructive criticism, and without that, how do you learn and grow as a photographer? Your family and friends will like your images no matter what because they want you to feel good. Though that’s very thoughtful and nice, it doesn’t do much in terms of helping you grow as a photographer.
Photography is a fun and rewarding hobby for many people and is a wonderful occupation for many others. That doesn’t mean it’s all roses and sunshine, however.
That’s not to say that photography has a “dark side,” but there are some unsavory qualities that some new photographers just don’t want to hear about.
Rather than keep your head in the sand, prepare yourself for reality with our list of four things beginner photographers just don’t want to hear.
There’s really no getting around this one. Photography is an expensive endeavor, no matter which way you slice it. Camera bodies are expensive. So are lenses. Then you need a bag to carry them. There are also filters, a tripod, a remote shutter release, a pan-tilt head for your tripod, an off-camera flash...you get the picture.
Even if you start out with hand-me-down equipment, at some point, you’ll want or need something new or new-to-you, and when that moment comes, be prepared to open your wallet and fork over a decent amount of cash. But beware! Don’t buy new gear just because it’s new and shiny. Only buy gear because you need it or because your current gear can no longer keep up with your skills.
Photography Takes Commitment
If you’re anything like me, there’s a bit of a romance period at the start with any new hobby. You submerge yourself in it; spend every minute of free time practicing and learning. Then, over time, the love affair begins to fade and your skills and abilities plateau, then plummet.
Photography is a lot like other hobbies, like learning to play an instrument. You won’t get better unless you practice - a lot. The time commitment is very real. The longer your camera sits on your desk collecting dust, the less likely you are to develop the skills needed to take the kind of pictures you want to take. Though mobile phones have made photography uber accessible with decent cameras and editing apps built right in, if you want to make a serious push towards being a good photographer, you’ll need to learn the basics of composition, lighting, and post-processing, and then practice those skills over and over again.
Photography Isn’t Just About Likes
We live in a social media-driven world. There’s nothing wrong with that, but social media is not the best place for a burgeoning photographer to learn and grow. There are two primary reasons for this:
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upload your images to social media. But you should supplement that with experiences that garner you more constructive criticism. Join a photography club, take a photography class at a local college, or participate in photography forums online to get the feedback you need to improve your skills. Just get your photos in front of other photography folks so you can learn and grow from their expertise.
Post-Processing is More Than Slapping a Filter on a Photo
Not to bash social media too much, but apps like Instagram have made photo filters extremely popular, and perhaps not for the better. While there might be a time and a place for a filter, it’s not the end-all, be-all of post-processing. Post-processing, like photography itself, takes time to master. This isn’t to say you need to rush out and buy Lightroom (though that would be a sound investment), but spending time in post-processing programs, learning how to work with levels, curves, layers, and the like, will help you create more compelling images. Even mobile apps like VSCO, Mextures, and Snapseed have tons of editing controls that offer a surprising level of control over how your final image looks.
Just like you can’t take a solid photo without taking a lot of practice photos beforehand, you can’t expect to create a solid final image every time by spending 30 seconds in this app or that app swiping through filter after filter. As noted above, photography is a commitment, and that includes learning how to make the most of the image you take in post.