What do you need in order to start doing photography?

Three common misconceptions and six life tips

With this article we are opening a new project “I am a Photographer” , within the framework of which we will share with you the experience of photographing. New lessons will be released weekly on all aspects of photography. The lessons will focus on different levels of reader training: from beginner to advanced photographer. This project will be led by me, Konstantin Voronov , a professional photographer and photography teacher.

Of course, each of us at least once shot on the phone or on a simple “soap box”. However, many people want not only to take frames for memory, but also to receive beautiful, high-quality photographs, to enjoy the process of photographing, and when uploading photos to the Internet, have a lot of “likes” under them.

How to become a photographer? Where to begin? Every day, many people ask this question. To begin with, I will give some general tips that will help you not to make common mistakes at the start, and dispel some common misconceptions about photography.

NIKON D810 / 70.0-200.0 mm f / 4.0 Installations: ISO 100, F4, 1/80 s, 95.0 mm equiv.

And we will begin precisely with errors.

Misconception number 1.

“A good camera takes good photos”

This is not true. Good photos are taken not by the camera, but by the photographer. Many people, before starting to take photographs on their own, think that professional photographers get good, high-quality shots due to the use of expensive equipment. However, the camera is just a tool. How to use it, the owner decides.

If you are unable to draw a person to give the best, most expensive brushes and paints, you get exactly the same result as when using the simplest and cheapest. Good brushes and paints will show all their capabilities only in skilled hands. It’s the same with photography.

While working with students, I often came across newcomers who had the most expensive, most professional of the existing cameras. Did such students make cadres better than the rest? Not. Quite the contrary: their pictures were worse, because they could not figure out the complex photo equipment designed for experienced professionals.

It is best to choose a camera not by its membership in the professional class or the highest price category, but by how much it suits your level of training and your tasks. For example, many expensive professional cameras, such as the Nikon D810, generally do not have automatic mode and scene programs (“portrait”, “landscape”, “macro”, etc.), which makes working with them incredibly difficult for novice photographers : It takes a long time to dig into unknown settings. At the same time, many entry-level cameras, such as the Nikon D5300 or Nikon D3300, are able to take beautiful pictures on a fully automatic machine: the photographer can only choose the most interesting scenes without thinking about the technical side of the issue.

How to choose a camera? Choose not the “best professional camera”, but the model that suits your skills and your tasks. To make the right choice, it’s enough to understand how seriously you want to take photos, whether you are going to learn to take pictures or just want to take pictures for memory.

Misconception №2

“Taking pictures is easy!”

Like many creative activities, photography seems to be a very simple affair exactly until you take care of it yourself. For example, like playing musical instruments, dancing, singing … You look at a professional dancer and think: “how can he do it simply and naturally! It seems to be nothing complicated! I can do the same! ”But when you try to make at least a couple of dance moves yourself, it turns out that it’s not so simple: at least you need special training.

The same thing with photography: with apparent simplicity, photographing well is quite difficult. After all, it requires a lot of knowledge and skills. Moreover, both technical (how to set up a camera, for example), and creative (how to compose a frame, how to choose a suitable lighting). We are sometimes talking about issues that would seem to be indirectly related to photography. For example, how to plan a tourist trip to get a lot of good shots ; how to make a child sit still while being photographed … By the way, we will cover all these topics in the framework of this project. Stay tuned!

It takes a lot of effort to photograph a beautiful landscape. It is necessary not only to be able to take pictures, but also, in fact, to get to the place of shooting.

I went to the distant suburbs in the early morning to catch a beautiful fog.

On the other hand, when you have the necessary experience, taking pictures is really easy and enjoyable. The camera does not interfere with getting good shots, and the composition is built intuitively. But for this you need to train, study, gain experience.

Misconception №3

“To learn how to take pictures, just study the technique and correctly press the buttons on the camera”

Technique and shooting parameters – this is only part of the necessary skills. And by the way, the part is the simplest. How to adjust the exposure? How to control focus? What is white balance? – All these technical issues are easily and simply resolved, and with regular training, they are fixed and stay with the photographer forever. This is the arithmetic of photography, two plus two. But photography is primarily creativity. But the creative component is much more complicated and not so simple. How to compose a frame? What to show in the photo? What story is worth photographing? These and many other creative questions are constantly tormented by photographers and solve them with varying success. Of course, it’s worth starting training in photography from the beginning, with technology. But it’s too early to finish.

NIKON D5200 / 18.0-105.0 mm f / 3.5-5.6 Settings: ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/60 s, 38.0 mm equiv.

Five tips for a beginner photographer

Tip number 1. See good photos, pictures, movies!

The main problem of most novice photographers is not the lack of good photographic equipment or even the lack of any special skills. The main problem is the lack of artistic taste. Form a good artistic taste for yourself! See photos of famous photographers, visit exhibitions. By the way, when was the last time you were in the Hermitage and the Tretyakov Gallery? Analyze the work of these masters: why did the artist or photographer decide to show just this and that? How is the composition arranged? How did the author work with light?

Visiting exhibitions, browsing the galleries of famous photographers and artists on the Internet is what will give you good luggage for your personal creativity. And vice versa: it’s better not to watch bad, mediocre things.

Why is it important? Imagine what happens if a person who has never seen a single picture is given hands and brushes? Most likely, he will not understand what to do with them; at best, he will portray something in the spirit of cave art. For example, some isolated African tribes can not only perceive the image on a plane, but even distinguish colors that are not responsible for their survival, are not found in their environment. Because nobody taught them this, they don’t have the necessary experience for this. It is human nature to use what he has seen and accumulated experience in his life and work. This experience is a must have. As photographers say, “you need to be watched.”

Tip number 2. Travel more

As we know, lying on a sofa at home, you won’t make good photos! Walk your camera! Travel, walk, visit interesting places: exhibitions, festivals, sporting events. Thus, you will witness interesting scenes for shooting, gain the experience necessary for shooting in various conditions. If we talk about landscape photography, then it is generally unthinkable without travel. By the way, like portrait: after all, often to take a good portrait you need to choose a beautiful place, a good background, and only then take a beautiful picture of the model.

There is also a purely psychological aspect: on a journey, regardless of its range, a person gains impressions, inspiration, and is charged with creative energy.

NIKON D810 / 70.0-200.0 mm f / 4.0 Installations: ISO 400, F4.5, 1/200 s, 200.0 mm equiv.

Tip number 3. Be self-critical

In order to make progress in your studies with photography, and the number of beautiful pictures to increase, you need to be critical of your work. Do not rest on your laurels, be able to see flaws in your work, even if everyone praises them.

For example, the toughest critic of my work is myself. I know better than any critic what the errors lie in my pictures. Analyzing my photos, I understand that I could take it even better. And the next time I try, I try to do it. Believe me, you will enjoy the correction of your own shortcomings, and your pictures will become more beautiful!

Tip number 4. Learn photography technique

Any work begins with the technical basics. Photography is no exception. To write books, you need to learn the alphabet, grammar, spelling of the language. Of course, modern cameras have excellent automation, which allows you to get good shots at the touch of a single button, without thinking about any settings.

However, those who shoot in auto mode know that automation is often mistaken: either the brightness of the image is not the same, then the colors are not the same, then the sharpness is not there. But I really want to tell the camera how to do it! In order to fully control the shooting process and not depend on the quirks of automation, it is worth exploring the rather simple technical basics of photography. How is the image formed in the camera? What is exposure? What is white balance? How does focus work? Understanding how everything works and the ability to set up your device will allow you to take high quality pictures and completely control the shooting process “from and to”. By the way, in the next lessons we will talk about these technical fundamentals.

Tip number 5. Do not buy the camera “outgrowth”.

Many people, as their first camera, buy the most advanced, professional tool. However, one must understand that a professional tool requires professional skills. If I stand behind a lathe (without which I have never stood) without any preparation, I most likely will not only not produce a single part, but will also be injured. Fortunately, a professional camera does not injure anyone, but it is designed for trained users. Novice photographers are better off looking at easier-to-learn models.

Tip number 6. Select a camera with the ability to manually adjust all parameters.

NIKON D810 / 18.0-35.0 mm f / 3.5-4.5 Installations: ISO 64, F14, 2 s, 21.0 mm equiv.

We will touch upon the topics of choosing a camera several times, but for now the most important thing: to take photography more or less seriously and become a real photographer, it’s worth mastering the photography technique and being able to adjust the shooting settings on the camera. This can only be done on cameras that have manual shooting modes. These cameras include all SLR cameras. It’s worth mentioning right away that the best types of cameras for photographers today are SLR cameras and compact cameras with interchangeable lenses — mirrorless ones. Conventional compacts (“soap dishes”) often do not have all the necessary settings, which makes them unsuitable for serious photographers. We will talk more about what cameras are and how they are arranged right in the next lesson.


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