So you have taken a few photos you like and see the golden horizon of possibility become a photographer. The next question is for most of you, How do I become a photographer? As with everything in life, the mystique of being or doing something often does not reflect the actual happenings when the truth be told. But okay, how do I go about it?
There are many ways to do this, and I am going to relate mine. It is not the only way, just the one I know.
I began in the days of film. A quaint, highly restrictive and educations process. . With the advent of digital, I doubt many have held a film camera. I believe the constraints of film were great teachers.
- You only have so many pictures, take those that count. As a kid, I was limited to 24 exposures per family vacations. I looked and hunted for the one shot I wanted. I did not document every step or meal. I took pictures that mattered and I would want to see again over the years. Like my sneakers, Hey I was a kid..
- Learn before you shoot, exposures cost money.
- If you messed up a picture, there were no do overs. You often did not get to see results for several weeks.
So, Lesson one in learning to be a photographer, limit your shots to those which have value and you will enjoy much later.
I transitioned to digital with a point and shoot canon camera many years ago. I carried it with me everywhere, just in case. I began to look at the world differently. I saw the world as if it were a picture. I would find interesting things and take a picture of them.
I quickly found that it was work to process all those pictures on the computer. The myriad of adjustment available was mind boggling. I learned that there is more to being a photographer than taking the picture.
Lesson two, start small with an inexpensive camera. Practice your seeing of the world and getting to know your equipment.
I had not planned to enter the world of DSLRs. It happened when my Canon point and shoot malfunctioned and Canon said it would cost more to repair than it was worth, but offered me a deal on a Canon Rebel. I stepped up in the world, but quickly realized that it was a tool only. I was still using the skills I learned with my point and shoot.
I experimented and took more and more pictures. I tried different genres and styles. Soon, I began to see the patterns in my photography. I was learning who I was behind the camera. I did try and imitate the styles of others, and learned much from the practice.
Lesson three: Learning comes from practice
When did I become a professional photographer? The day I sold my first image. A young female firefighter was being laid in the grass outside of a burning house. The paramedics were attending to her and checking her for injuries. I had my Canon Rebel with me, and took a shot. That was the first of many pictures I have taken and sold. I can’t tell you off me head the iso settings, or speed and f-stop. I remember what the photo meant and why it was important. To me this is the reason my photography is considered professional. Any picture can be technically perfect. Heck I can take a technically perfect picture of an apple, and so what.
Yet, I can take an imperfect picture of something meaningful, and it will be remarked on for years to come. Many beginning photographers think that fancy equipment, lighting and such will make them a great professional photographer.
So to summarize:
- Start with shots that you value and want to look at
- Start small and simply, and learn the craft of taking pictures.
- Practice, practice and practice more.
- Learn to take shots that mean something to others.
If you are looking to score big with an $800 camera and think that scoring big will be simple, go do something else. What is not in the list above but is most vital. You have to love taking pictures so much that you would be willing to devote a major part of your life to doing so and getting few monetary returns. I can think of no photographer who does this just for the money. Every one of them loves taking pictures first.
Categories: Editor Thoughts