“A camera didn’t make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”
~ Peter Adams
All experts start somewhere. No one starts off as an expert. It’s a series and journey of knowledge acquisition and skill refinement. Those experts start at the beginning. They start by collecting and gathering information. They start by researching and looking into everything that concerns their interests.
That’s where it all begins, with that first action. For a photographer, it starts by picking up the camera and simply shooting. When we get out there and start our photography journey there are some tips we should keep in our back pockets. So, if you are just picking up a camera here are seven tips to keep in mind.
Don’t focus on the gear
The gear does not make the photographer. It’s the individual behind the lens. Anyone can pick up a camera and shoot. It takes a different kind of person, an artistic person, to see things differently and create through the lens. In reality, you can make anything work for you, as long as you practice and have the vision for it. We don’t credit brushes for classical paintings, and we don’t credit typewriters for great novels. It’s the painter. The writer. The list can go on. The equipment does matter because it’s the medium by which the final piece is created, however, it is the artist that’s accredited for the final outcome.
Know your tools and resources
You still want to know what you’re working with and how you can continually improve. There’s no point in getting the latest and greatest or even using an old familiar without knowing how to use it and make it work for you. Learn about the features of your camera, your lights, and your software. Locate the resources that will help you learn and expand your skills to become a better photographer. Even the expert must rely on resources as technological advances are frequently released and increased accessibility allows creators to invent and challenge new ideas.
Without lighting, it’s impossible to capture a photograph. Lighting is essential and it’s important to become comfortable in the foundations of lighting. There are an assortment of lights and lighting techniques to where it can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to know every lighting type or technique to achieve a well-lit photograph. Start with the basics, understand how lighting impacts the mood, and know how to work with shadows and light. There are plenty of resources on lighting.
Have a shoot schedule
Just like with any art form, photographers use different skill sets that should be refined. When starting out, practice makes perfect. Get out and regularly shoot to get familiar with your camera and it’s setting. In doing so, you’ll eventually find what settings work best for you and learn more about your personal style.
Build your portfolio
Your portfolio is your key to everything. It’s your showcase and gallery. It’s a display of your skill, your style, and artistry. Allow your portfolio to be that extra voice for you. Curate it with care and creativity.
Find your muse
Identify what inspires you. Perhaps you find inspiration through stories and life or create for art’s sake. Maybe inspiration happens upon you instantaneously or you meticulously plan how to execute your creative project. Whatever drives you or motivates you to create, hold on to it. Your muse will guide you on your creative journey.