Photography is a booming hobby that is practiced by uncountable numbers across the world. With the ability to take high quality images with our cell phones and easily obtainable point-and-shoot cameras, photography’s popularity is really no surprise. Unfortunately, all the hype that surrounds photography doesn’t mean that it’s all roses. There is certainly a brutal truth or two that must be learned to put it all into perspective.
1. Better Gear Doesn’t Automatically Mean Better Photography
I love a cool piece of new gear as much as anybody. New cameras, lenses, flashes, and all the accompanying accessories are a complete blast to play with but the brutal truth is, if you don’t know why you need any if it, then it won’t make you a better photographer.
The question to ask yourself whenever you get the new-gear itch is this: “How is my current setup holding me back from making progress?”. If you can’t answer that question, then the chances are you don’t need that new piece of gear.
More often than not, you’ll realize that you don’t necessarily NEED that new shiny camera body. You just want it because it’s the new hotness, or the specs look better than the setup you currently use. It doesn’t matter how much better the specs look, if you aren’t reaching the limitations of the gear you have now, then what is the new hotness really going to do for you?
Figure out just how to create a mind-blowing image first. Usually, it’s along that journey that you realize you need to upgrade. Remember that good photography starts in the space between your ears and not in your camera.
2. There is no “Knack”
Everybody knows that certain someone who tends to learn things quicker than everyone else. They tend to just have a naturally short learning curve. Don’t let the fast learners fool you. Everyone has to learn how to get this right. That learning process never stops. The second you decide to stop learning is the second you need to set your camera down and walk away from it.
As you continue to improve, you’re sure to hear someone say, “You have such a gift.” The brutal truth is that while they are trying to offer a friendly compliment, you know that you worked your tail off to learn how to get the image that produces those kinds of reactions.
No matter what, nobody was just born with “The eye”. Even Ansel Adams sucked at one point.
3. Patience is a Virtue
The pictures that are seen in magazines and books are some amazing images. None of those images just “happened” though. Many of them were taken after several minutes, hours, or even days worth of patience.
It is extremely rare to be able to just walk up to a scene, just snap an image, and have the outcome be breathtaking. Many times, you have to move around to figure out the best composition or to get an annoying element out of the way. Sometimes, you just have to wait for something compelling to happen. More often than not, having the patience to just sit and observe will yield good results.
4. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an amateur
The word “amateur” usually has a sort of negative connotation. People usually equate the idea of being an amateur with not actually having any talent. Those people couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, being an amateur can be more fun than being a professional.
As an amateur, you focus your efforts on bettering yourself at your craft. That is an absolutely amazing time! When you’re not out actually improving at putting your images together and learning what the difference is between a good image and a great image, you can be in front of your computer learning how to be more efficient a post-processing.
The brutal truth is, as a professional photographer, you actually spend the majority of your time NOT shooting. You have other unfun stuff to attend to like marketing, invoicing, and growing the business side of things. That stuff can eat away at your passion for the craft.
Another brutal truth: Some of the most popular photographers out there aren’t even that popular because of their photography. They’re that popular because of their business acumen.
5. Post-processing is a tool, not a crutch
Since post-processing got mentioned in #4, let’s get this brutal truth out there: Photoshop should be used to make what is already a good image better. There isn’t enough Photoshop on earth to make a bad image good.
If you take the time and effort to make an image so good, that it communicates with the viewer on its own merit, then Photoshop will only improve the strength of that image. If your image is lifeless and uninteresting, over-processing the crap out of it won’t change the fact that it is lifeless and uninteresting.
There is no getting around the fact that good images aren’t just taken…..they are made. The process that we go through on our journey is what makes us who we are and every journey is different. Enjoy it and don’t get caught up in all the fluff that makes the brutal truth hard to swallow. As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me this week. If you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe and share via the social media links. You can also find MTM Photography on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so be sure to check out those pages! I’ll see ya next week!