Im going to try something different, and actually share my opinions, advice, and personal ethos openly....for who ever is interested...
I tend to keep things close to the hip, and I generally think there are much more qualified people than me, but sometimes its cool to hear perspectives from people at different points along any given road...The topic:
Im bothered by what seems to me to be a lack of good foundational information about how to approach photography.
Someone asked me a simple question on my facebook page recently. It was actually the first question anyone has asked me directly about my photography which I think is awesome...im still stoked that people other than my immediate family like what Im doing.
But to be honest, the question disappointed me.
The person simply asked, "What gear do you use?"
Yeah I know....its a simple question, and actually there is nothing wrong with the question itself. And if that was ALL he was actually asking there would be nothing wrong with it at all.
But that is not what he was actually asking me. What he was really asking was, how are you getting your images to look like this?
And if that is what he wanted to know, then the question "what gear do you use" being at the top of the list means, at least to me, that his foundational approach is headed down Frustration Road.
Yes its a strong opinion, but its all mine.
One of the things that I am seeing very early on in my foray into the photographic field is something that alot of people dont seem to talk about much....
That is: Much of what you hear and see in regard to photographic advice from various sources is coming from a mindset that is created by a SALES mentality.
Meaning, that since the advent of the digital sensor, photography has become available to a much broader segment of the population.
And that means SALES.
Dont get me wrong, I love camera equipment as much as the next person, but as hard as this is for some people to believe, the equipment is SECONDARY to the vision of the person using it. ESPECIALLY when you are starting out.
Alot of people nod their heads when I say this like they get it, but Im becoming more and more convinced that most people DONT get this fact.
The sales machine which is most of the internet puts forward this simple ethos:
The difference between average photography and excellent photography is the gear you use.
The problem is, while this is true in SOME contexts, its not true in ALL contexts.
More specifically, its true for the person who understand exactly what the tool will do for their already existing vision, but it is NOT true for most of the people who are wanting to learn how to take great photographs...at least it wont be true for them until later.
So at the risk of being laughed at, Ill make it more personal.
The majority of my photographic learning, especially for composition, was all done on a tablet camera.
No lenses, apertures, or shutter speeds. Just a tiny sensor, and a screen.
In fact, in some ways, I miss the pure simplicity of this approach, and will probably return to it regularly when I realize my focus has gotten off course.
It was not until the photos I was trying to take were being limited by the equipment that I started to look for a DSLR. That little tablet sensor was not so keen on high intensity back lighting, lens flares, and while I was able to simulate depth of field to a degree with software, it felt like it was time to expand the gear.
While I was shooting with that little tablet camera though, I started noticing some things that fascinated me about photography.
I took a picture of some simple flowers on a day when i was longing for a personal breakthrough. What amazed me was, looking at this simple tablet snapshot of a couple of flowers, many of the comments about the image when I posted it were something along the lines of "I feel such a longing when I look at this image" Or "They look like they are reaching for something". And there were other images with a similar response.
Somehow, people were able to feel what i was feeling when I took the image... regardless of what my subject was.
Some people may not buy this, but Im telling you, its a very real thing.
So, Point One:
Photography transfers the emotion of the moment. What you feel about what you are shooting will affect the final result in a tangible way.
As absurd as it may sound to some, I think that the most important things a photographer can cultivate, before knowing what light or lens to use, are all attitude and vision based.
It is my personal belief that what you love is what you will shoot. And if you dont shoot what you love, you will not experience any deep satisfaction from what you are shooting, or even photography in general. So being mindful first of WHAT you love, then WHY you love it are the first two things you should think about. I mean really ask yourself these questions....and wait until you hear an honest answer...one that isnt cluttered with a bunch of "shoulds". Then when you really figure that out, start looking for it. And VERY importantly, start practising gratitude everytime you see it. Your being given an incredible Divine gift every time you do. I will not write about Harvard research into how living in gratitude actually changes your brain chemistry and overall creativity here...just suffice it to say, that this is one of those foundational primarys that might seem secondary but isnt.
So Point Two:
Once you know what you want to shoot, and why, you will be able to ask more specific questions, and technical learning will come much faster.
The technical part only comes after you know what it is you want to capture, why, and what you want it to look like. You can look at people doing things similar to what you want to do, and ask them things like "what gear do you use" and it will actually help you rather than confuse you even more and make you feel even further from your goal. It will also save you a ton of money. You wont randomly buy "gear" hoping it will improve your photography. Youll know exactly what you want, and why.
So yeah...I realize this is alot of personal philosophy all in response to someone asking me what gear I use. So Im going to stop there and see if anyone cares to listen....