All The Best Things I've Learnt About Taking Pictures For 12 Years
Taking pictures is something that I do on a daily basis. Whether it’s setting my camera up on my tripod in front of a carefully curated still life set up for a blog post or getting my phone out to take a quick snap of the dogs when I’m walking them, it’s something I do without much thought. It’s been 12 years since I started seriously taking photographs and during that time I’ve learned an abundance of things so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re just starting out on your photography journey. There is so much noise surrounding photography and all the things you should and you shouldn't be doing but so much of it's down to personal preference and what works for you.
LEARNING MANUAL ISN’T ESSENTIAL BUT IT’S BENEFICIAL
If you have a DSLR or even something like the Olympus Pen than there is the option to shoot manual (usually marked by an M on the wheel) and taking the time to learn how do that is something I can’t recommend enough. Heck, I think even the iPhone allows you to shoot manually now with a certain app which is seriously impressive for a phone. If you’ve never picked up a camera before then it will look so confusing but once you start reading, researching and most importantly practicing then it will gradually become easier and it ultimately gets the best out of your camera. When you’re spending a lot of money on a camera (not an essential by any means) then only shooting on auto it's never getting to get the most out of your kit. I’m not a believer that shooting manually automatically makes your images any better than something shot fully automatic but by choosing each setting gives you so much more control over how your image looks and can also lessen the need for heavy corrective editing.
The brilliant thing about learning manual now on any type of camera is that it’s more than likely going to be digital. I learned to shoot manually on film and with only 36 shots are your disposal unless you were going to shell out for another round of film it meant mistakes were costly. But the beauty of digital is that you can take thousands of trial shots to help you understand your camera a lot more.
there is no right or wrong when it comes to taking pictures
Just like anything creative field photography is something that is subjective but it’s all too easy to let comparison get the best of you and feel like everything you’re doing is wrong whilst everyone else is doing all the right things. Instagram is something that I find is guilty of this to our mindset as the “success” of peoples creativity is measured in likes and comments and that can be such a difficult mindset to get out of as it's something we see every single day. There are so many photographers I see on the platform that are absolutely incredible in my opinion but don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers, unlike some people whose work I’m not personally a fan of. But that’s not to say the people who have hundreds of thousands of followers are wrong but they’re just not for me. The most important thing is feeling like you can be yourself through your work and not trying to be someone else in order to achieve someone else’s version of success.
FINDING YOUR STYLE TAKES TIME
Finding your style is something I truly believe takes years, well at least for me it did and it’s something that is changing constantly as we evolve and our tastes change. When I initially starting taking pictures I loved music photography and then industrial work, once I got into university I leaned more towards editorial work and then eventually I found my jam with still life and general lifestyle stuff. Which is exactly what I do now and although I’ve found my general style the way I take pictures is always changing and evolving which is a really good thing. As much as I love my comfort bubble it's important to get out of it every now and again). The process of finding your style can feel frustrating and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t look back at the first images they took and cringe slightly but the learning process is a positive one. A little cheat sheet that might help you find what feels good when you pick up your camera;
What do you feel comfortable shooting?
What do you enjoy shooting?
What do you want to shoot more of?
Who inspires you?
What are you able to do with the things around you?
Making mistakes is something that can feel unbelievably frustrating but they are so valuable in the long run. Taking pictures of anything and everything might feel like a waste of time but the more you do it the more it helps find out how you like to shoot and what kind of things you enjoy shooting too.
lens > body
The world of tech is something that I’m not all that experienced with, I know a little bit but nowhere near as much as some people. But one thing that I am absolutely sure on is that investing your money in your lens is far more important than the body of the camera. The lens is something that makes a huge difference in the outcome of your work. If you’re really serious about taking photographs and possibly pursuing it as a career investing in your kit is a wise idea, and shopping second hand can be a really wonderful thing as so many people trade in cameras within about a year of having them so you’re sure to find a great deal somewhere. Even on Instagram now you can often find photographers selling on kit! For me, for my style of work I’m a big fan of the 40mm lens, it’s something that I’ve used for years and I still find it delivers the results I want and can be used for so many things.