Tech & Edu - Photography Myths, Believe at Your Own Risk
just like any other thing in life, is neither black nor white. Although we often accept this “wide spectrum” theory we still need to deal with a wide range of rules as well a even wider range of assumptions, blanket statements and myths that seem to be blindly accepted by newbies and experienced photographers alike.
The fact is, most of us, if not all, have fallen at least for one or several of these photography myths at some point, especially in early photography days, when you tend to follow every single tip given by those (seemingly) more seasoned.
From the equipment you must have to the content of your photography website or social medias page needs to include, the number of misconceptions is almost uncountable. Still, we tried to select some of the most common ones where shutterbugs fall easy. And because it is of light we are talking about, let us shed some light on what are actually facts and what are just lessons to learn from the myth.
I would start from the first and probably the most common misconception of them all, the idea of “Being a photographer is a very easy thing” and that is why we should not value too much on the person that does great part of the work. In fact, as if you assume that being a photographer is “pressing the shutter button,” yes, it is a very easy thing and that anyone or anything can do (does not even need to have a brain). But, while pressing the shutter comes as an easy task, confuse that with capturing truly appealing images is a serious mistake as for the second, patience, experience, skill, and dedication are required (in large quantities).
The complexity of photography might be something that only photographers realize, as its challenges usually go unnoticed to the untrained or uneducated eye. Moving from the first station, the second myth we often see and hear about is that “Good photos require very expensive gear”. Well, as we all know photography gear is somehow expensive but try not to see it as “disposable material,” as in most of the cases and given the proper treatment, a camera can last several decades and a lens even more.
Of course there is a wide range of equipment that also follows a certain price range but the ultimate fact that I want to point here is, “Buying an expensive camera does not make a good photographer out of you” in the same way that buying an expensive piano will not make you a good musician. Remember that in the end of the day, is the “human” behind the tool that captures/creates (for some) the images that this tool processes.
So what is the advantage to acquire “professional gear,” for start I would say that in my opinion there is no such thing as professional or amateur gear, what we see in the stores is a range of products that suite several people and skills. From better material (please note that I did not use – more expensive) you can expect reliability, flexibility in the use and consistent results in different conditions.
To wrap up this long tale, I would say simply – Try to refrain from suffering from the so-called GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), buy only basics and play along, use them in different situations, see their advantages and weaknesses and try to fill “the gaps” acquiring what you really need.
Buying a bag-full of prime lens will probably make many WOW but, in the end of the day you want to carry one or maximum two lens with you for a certain task, so my advice is “choose wisely”.
Moving into a more practical topic and on the set of your photo-session, one of the also common mistakes (if you allow me the word) is to do what we usually call the “spray and pray” style, this “technique” assumes that shooting thousands of consecutive pictures will increase your chances of getting the ONE. I am sorry to cut that dreaming cloud for you! Although for some this may sound like a good idea, it leads basically to one thing, a “zillion” of boring shots with absolutely no interest or context that sustains them and to a every more strenuous work on post-processing as, instead of choosing from four or five “similar” shots, you end up with 100 all the same.
Again be wise, think wisely, place the subject well, frame your image as perfectly as possible and then shoot. Take time to review after each (or a few shoots only), that is the great advantage of digital, something might not going well and if you keep “blindly” shooting in the same conditions you will end up (again) with a large amount of precious files good for the bin.
The same goes for building up a portfolio (and on this one I can aim to both photographers, models and other artists out there). A good portfolio is a portfolio that gives a good idea of what you are capable of and done already, when building up one (a hard task) do not fall for the obvious mistake of including 127 photos of the same model (from the same shoot or theme) with microscopic differences between them – Filter! (No, not Instagram filters) filter your photos, step-by-step, put some aside, do not include everything, may be you can add the “best of the best” in your portfolio and then keep a second selection of others in another portfolio or another page or social media platform. Choose quality over quantity every single time.
Select only your best work and on the genre or style you want to shoot. This again seems obvious but is not, if you are aiming to shoot lets say “Wedding topics” do not create a sports photography gallery, no matter how good it is, separate the waters.
One of the myths that I like the most if the - “You are not a real photographer if you use other than Manual mode”. I guess we all heard this one.
In fact, Manual modes allow the photographer to be in control of all camera functions and settings, still, this does not mean that you need this all the time or even that this is the “best option”. It is very simple, modes like Aperture Priority (identified on cameras dial as A or Av) or Shutter Priority (identified on cameras dial as S or Tv) were made to make photographers life easier reducing the number of settings by fixing one (of the big three) to help on the work flow and to accelerate the process of adjusting to the right settings.
They are absolutely great tools to ease on your burden (in case you know what you want, that is).
And to close this topic (for now at least) I left to last the one that I consider the most “funny” myths of them all - “Bad lighting” - Please do not be shocked if I say, “there is no such thing as bad lighting”.
As a photographer you work with light (natural, artificial, available, ...) and the only bad light that you might find is the absence of light.
While complete darkness might be an issue, all the other kinds of light are “good light”. So please when someone say “I cannot shoot today because it is rainy/cloudy/too sunny,” what you should be hearing instead is, “I have no idea how to shoot in these conditions and I do not want to learn how to make the most of the current weather”.
Do not look at lighting conditions as a limitation, instead, face them as a friend of a new challenge to take your photography skills further. In unpredictable situations you usually have two options: Fight the conditions to change them to what you want them to be; or change your initial idea and play with what you have at that moment.
A good example comes in cloudy or overcast days, these are actually great conditions to shoot landscapes and portraits due to the reduced contrast, it is like if the sky decided to create a fabulous “sky-size” soft-box just for you.
Shooting in harsh midday light? No problem, you can focus on the shadows either by shooting in the shade and capturing the hard contrast against the light or if you are facing the sun, play for interesting silhouettes and sunbursts.
And this is all for now. I do promise to return with much more soon.