I have a really nice washing machine. It has lots of dials and buttons on the front and looks very pretty. It came with a very thick instruction booklet that I never read. I tend to use the same few modes all the time and my washing is fine. This is the same experience with my DVD recorder, my alarm clock, TV and almost every electronic appliance I own. They are all extremely technology heavy and have long, boring instruction books.
Cameras are the same way. They are laden with menus, options and modes. Many are confusing and of little real value. Most people are the same when it comes to technology. They take the simple route such as using the same wash cycle. With cameras, many pop their SLRs into Auto or Program mode and (wash) shoot away. For the most part, cameras are smart, and the pictures will probably come out OK but the true path to take better images (and whiter washing) is to use the full potential of the technology available and develop one’s creative eye, thinking and imagination. Despite this, camera manufacturers continue to brainwash us into thinking that more pixels, larger sensors and more program buttons is the way to go – and for many, this is not the case.
Next time you feel you need a new camera to take better pictures, consider first, if you know how to use your current camera to the fullest.
Before purchasing a new camera to get better, try mastering the one you have and improving your photography skills and understanding:
- Go completely cold turkey and go MANUAL: If you want to take better photos, switch off the assisted this and the auto that and start taking control of the camera. Start understanding the process of picture taking. There are hundreds of books, websites and blogs out there that explain all about ISO, aperture, shutter speed focal length etc and they will help you gain a real understanding of how photography really works. Eventually, the time will come to judiciously start using some of the gizmo functions on your camera again and this is the time to push the limits of the camera to the extreme. Learn to shoot in RAW for example and work with the limits of the technology to squeeze every last drop of performance from it.
- Develop your photographic eye. Learn about composition and what elements make a great photograph. Teach yourself to look for photo opportunities wherever you are. Take your camera everywhere, shoot and re shoot, photograph things repeatedly striving for improvement with every shot. Make yourself find arresting imagery from the most mundane of subjects, force yourself to look and to find meaningful photographs and constantly strive to photograph better each day.
- Develop your sense of visual identity. What do you really want your images to say, what is your photography about, how does it express your view of the world? Initially all artists and photographers will begin by emulating others. It is important to look deeply within yourself to find your photographic voice and how you are unique, what are you passionate about and what do you want to communicate. Your photographic style will become a synthesis of these external influences, your own creative thinking and your inner world. Develop it, nurture it and listen to it, it will grow and flourish and reward you in the richest ways possible. Try to define it, hone it and guide it and you will create authentic, unique and valuable images. your visual identity will partly define you, give you confidence, security and satisfaction for the rest of your life.
Andrew Hind has been a professional wedding photographer in Cambridge for nearly ten years. He is a member of the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photojournalists.