07 July 2013

What I Wish Photographers Would Do, Part 2


Art Model, Christina ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time."
~John Berger 

Everything I write here for this 3-part series of posts are actually for the purposes of self-preservation. I'm not in any way saying photography is dying, but let me be clear, it is definitely sick. As I've stated earlier, a third of the blame lies with knuckle-heads in the business. So yes, self-preservation is my goal here, but its always been my nature to help, teach, protect, and edify. Understand me. I love this thing of light capture and pixel punishing. Its my thing. Passionate is too light of an adjective to ascribe to my thing for photography and I don't like seeing it sick. So let me get started on the second part of this series.

Part 2: STUDY YOUR TRADE

Art Model, Christina ©2013 Terrell Neasley
Like anything you undertake that is worthwhile, planning, research, and ongoing study is imperative if you wish to be better and achieve some reasonable degree of success. Far to often, I run across a photog doing paid work, who has no idea of how to operate their camera out of the "scene" modes, know the relationship of aperture to depth of field, use flash off camera, work with radio triggers, understand when to use ND filters, do post-work in Photoshop, use a lens other than the 18-55 or 18-135 kit lens their camera came with, ever use Bulb mode, or do anything else that might be evident that they take photo seriously. Okay, so you know the alphabet in order. Now identify the f/stops in order of widest to the smallest you can recall.

I'm not picking on anybody...well, okay. Yes I am, but for good reason. If you are not training yourself to get better, eventually you get yourself caught in a situation that you can't account for and thereby fail to deliver on promises you made. In addition, how can you place any value on your services when you do nothing to justify your worth. Spending big money on a good camera gives you no more right to call yourself a photographer than someone who buys an expensive hammer and calls themselves a carpenter. Knowledge and skill must wield the tool.

Art Model, Christina
©2013 Terrell Neasley

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.” 
~Mahatma Gandhi

I'm not saying anyone has to go spend 4 years in school and get a degree in photography. Not at all. But you still have to read. There is too much information online, much of it free in the form of tutorials and articles that can bring you up to speed and help you grow in your trade. Much of it is scattered all over the internet, but there are also central areas of creditable knowledge that can steer you on the straight and narrow. Lynda.com is a powerful source of info on just about anything for creatives. Plearn.com is one that I'm becoming familiar with. Take a look at my iPhone and you will see several subscriptions to photo-related podcasts that keep me abreast of the latest in photo news, issues, techniques, opinions, and more. Two that I am religious about are TWIP, with Frederick Van Johnson and PhotoFocus run by Richard Harrington and Scott Borne (located here in Vegas!). Chances are, if you see me on the road, I've got my ear-buds in listing to a podcast of some sort.

Art Model, Christina ©2013 Terrell Neasley
But wait, there's more. Do you subscribe to any magazines? Why not? Rangefinder Magazine, by the Neilson Photo Group (who runs WPPI) even has a paper version for free! My daughter first told me that. They do a State of the Industry report on the photography business in general every year. How about joining PPA? There are all kinds of benefits and networking opportunities there? Join a local photo club or meetup group lately? You have the benefit of learning from each other in those things. Does your city have a local camera store? Mine does. B&C Camera. You can go in and see the new gear that's just released and ask questions from a sales staff who are actual photographers. There are pros that come there on Saturdays to hang out and answer questions for you. Why? Because they love this thing. You can't do that with online stores. And try it at Best Buy and chances are, you'll be talking to a kid who can read the information off the card for you. Every use a Tilt-Shift lens? Wanna see what you could do with a fast telephoto lens? Spend a few dollars and rent one. I recently read an article about the Nikon 200mm f/2 as being the best for portraits. So I tried it out. Now I know that the Canon 85mm f/1.2 is still the best to me, but the Nikon 200mm comes in a close second for its sharpness and quick auto focus. I got to experience it and know for myself and that's powerful. Don't be too tight to rent some gear. Sacrifice some Starbucks and McD's. Its worth it.

Art Model, Christina ©2013 Terrell Neasley
All I'm saying is this. It cheapens photography when people get into it to make a buck, but don't want to put in the study or the work. It devalues the trade when you don't do it right. We all help ourselves when we treat the trade with respect. Practices that benefit you for the moment, but kills you and everybody else in the long run is just stupid. I don't care how many people buy cameras and join the club. I'll even help you do it as best I can. But I'm going to hold it against you if you are hollow, cheap and irresponsible with my love. Be respectful.

2 comments:

Joanie said...

Those eager to learn should also check out CreativeLIVE, sign up for free classes, and attend as many real scenario workshops as possible to learn this incredible artform. Don't just stick to workshops with you walking in and just shooting...learn why you're shooting with that lens, at that f-stop, that ISO, and all those lights.

Basically, don't be passive in your learning: jump in and move things around, see what happens! That's when you go from happy accidents to magic every time.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Yep. 'Preciate that nugget of wisdom, Joanie. I've used CreativeLIVE as well, to great benefit. There are a bunch of 'em out there to learn from. Hopefully the readers will search this out for themselves and find what suits them best.