Photography for Dummies: Part1
“Oh look, I just bought a smartphone and installed Instagram on it, I am a Pro Photographer now!”
I doubt you ever saw such a direct status, but that’s what many people’s stream says nowadays. The photographs, overexposed at corners, with light leak imitations and curled up corners along with their profile photos that are taken in a mirror with a bright flash, bring us to this discussion: What is going on in the world of photography? What is this Amateur, Beginner, Pro, Macro, Travel, Fine art, Auto, B&W, Mobile, Nature, Landscape, Street, Candid Street, Portrait, HDR, Boudoir, Bird, Flower, Action, Sports and a million other iterations of a photographer? Where do I stand and what is my photography for?
With 7 billion people on the planet, a billion on Facebook, 170 million on Google+ and the remaining somewhere on Flicker, Pinterest, 500px or just tattling around with their phones, it’s not an easy game. Where do you start? How to stand out from the crowd? How much time you need to spend?
How to draw the line?
To begin with, let me clear some of the doubts that most people have about photography:
- You are gonna make a buttload of money!
The answer is an emphatic NO. Photography is not a cheap passion, just like Golf or racing. You need to input a lot before you can expect even the least output. People spend approximately 1 lac on a basic studio setup and still get nothing more than passport photo work. So don’t get your hopes up high.
- You are gonna be surrounded by naked models and chicks will dig you!
The answer, again is a NO. Fashion photography is one of the most costly forms in today’s time, so forget about taking your phone camera to your girlfriends home and getting on the cover of Vogue. As far as chicks are concerned, try asking one of them for a candid street shot and see their face. They already think they are a supermodel, so you are no good.
- All I need is a big, fancy DSLR and I can shoot the shit out of anything!
It will take you at least a week, if you are intelligent, to understand how to just take a mug shot. I have been working with cameras for many years now and recently discovered what the DOF preview button does. In simple words, with great camera, comes great headache. Shooting with a DSLR needs a lot of work, before, during and after the actual process of clicking the button.
You have to draw the line somewhere, do you need a DSLR? Is a Digicam or a Superzoom enough for your need? Are you comfortable with using Photoshop and Photomatix and Lightroom etc. and the basic post processing techniques?
In the end, if you do buy a big cam and keep it safe and locked in your closet, it’s like owning a Ferrari and throwing it into the sea.
The easiest and the most workable advice here is, start small. I shot with a film camera, Kodak KB12 when I was a kid. Then I shot with a Sony Ericsson K810i phone for 4 years when I was in college. 1 year after I got my first well-paying job, I saved equivalent to my 2 months’ salary and got a DSLR. Even after I got my camera, I didn’t go crazy and buy all sorts of lenses and accessories. I only own the Kit lens and the cheapest Canon lens ever, 50mm f1.8, apart from some experimental accessories that together cost less than 2000 bucks.
Photography is a passion, if you love it you will eventually succeed anyway. If you just want to show off your big lens, possibly as a replacement for something else that is small, you don’t get the big picture.
There is nothing, absolutely nothing that a 15 lac Hasselblad can do and you 1500 rupee digicam can’t. It’s like being a surgeon, if you don’t know how to use a million dollar laparoscopy equipment, you might as well use a blade and your bare hands. The end result will be more or less the same, with varying amounts of blood involved.
Long story short; Follow these simple guidelines to choose your method of photography:
- Do you want to just share photos of your B’day party, your nail paint or your own tilted profile photos?
Stick with your phone camera, they can do much much more than you can imagine.
- Are you finished clicking with your phone and looking for something more?
Go for a simple point and shoot. A budget of 7000 rupees is more than enough.
- You understand Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO? Where to go next?
Fix a budget and go according to it. If you are ready to spend around 15,000 rupees, you can go for a point and shoot with manual mode and decent zoom ratio. With 250000 you can go for an advanced point and shoot or a superzoom. With 35000 you can go for a beginner DSLR kit.
- Do you want to just post photos on Facebook or process them before?
Dedicated people spend hours and hours fine tuning their photographs before they post them online or give them for prints. It is time consuming, frustrating and difficult task that requires a lot of patience. Depending on your choice, you might have to spend on tools like Photoshop, Lightroom etc., there are alternatives for those who understand torrents.
This is an overview of a very big picture. I will discuss in detail what are superzooms, what are advanced point and shoots, what is post processing etc. in later stages.