So You Want To Be A Photographer

Learn to take quality photography's without a lot of expensive equipment.

When I first started in photography, I was a child. I would use any camera that I could get my hands on. The thing was that I always seemed to have an eye for what would make a good photograph.

When I reached my early teens, -still not being able to afford a good camera- I bought a little Kodak 110. It cost maybe twenty dollars and I took it with me everywhere I went. By the time I was an adult, I had taken a couple thousand pictures with that camera. Three years ago I actually sold two of those pictures. Though I now use a 35mm camera, I keep it simple and relatively inexpensive and I sell a lot of photographs.

Though an expensive camera is nice to own and a pleasure to use, it is not necessary for taking quality pictures. The most important things that you need are a good eye for what makes for a great photo, practice and knowledge of good photographic practices are the keys to great photography. Look at books and magazines and notice how great photographers frame their photos, notice the light and shadow and subject matter. The more your eyes become accustomed to seeing quality pictures, the more likely that you will be able to recognize a great photo opportunity when it comes your way. So before you go out and buy a lot of expensive equipment, use any camera that you have to learn basic practices of composing a great photograph. I know people who have thousands of dollars worth of equipment and don't have a clue as to how to take a quality photo. It can be learned, but you have to be willing to learn. You have to be able to take constructive criticism, learn from your mistakes, take a lot of pictures and never let yourself get to the point that you think that you know all there is to know, there is something to be learned from most everyone.

Learning photography from the ground up is all-important. Many high schools have a photography course these days. Most all colleges have photography courses. Fine Art Centers often will offer a photography course. Check for photography clubs that may be in your area, these are most always great places to find some excellent photographers who are willing to help out a beginner. What ever you do keep learning, checking out the work of great painters and photographers and keep working.

When you can afford it you will want to buy a 35mm SLR -single lens reflex- camera so that you will have the ability to change lenses. It does not have to be an expensive camera. Even now I still use an old, Minolta x70 camera, the least expensive SLR camera that Minolta sells. Most 35mm SLR cameras come with a 50mm lens. You may want to have a 35mm,a 70mm and a zoom lens. I use an 80 to 200mm zoom lens and this works well for me.

Composition is a primary factor in quality photography. Painters have used the rule of thirds for centuries. It is a guideline for off-center placement of a subject. To center a subject is static and is not satisfying to the eye. Using the rule of thirds is to imagine that your camera's viewing screen has a drawn graph, resembling a tic-tac-toe game. As you view the scene to be photographed thru your camera's viewer, -be it a house, a tree or an animal etc.- put the subject at one of the intersecting points on this imaginary graph. This will work whether you are taking a vertical or horizontal shot.



When taking photos of people or animals, if the subject is not looking straight into the camera, place them at the top intersecting point where they are looking into the picture. For example, if they are looking to the left, have them at the right intersecting point and vice-versa. The same applies, if the subject is moving, have them moving into the picture. If you were taking a photo of a sunrise for example, then you would want the horizon along the lower line of the imaginary graph.

Framing a photo is an option when, -for a more effective photograph- the picture would include a lot of washed out or dull sky. For example you could use the branches of a tree, or a doorway etc. You can also frame a picture from the bottom. Let's say that you are taking a picture of a person, or a wonderful peace of architecture. With a lot of clutter or a large area of grass, you might possibly change the angle from which you are taking the photo from, or move back away from the subject and use a longer lens, or frame the picture blocking out the unwanted clutter or grass.

Filling the frame can also be important. If you can't get close enough to a subject use a longer lens, as this will allow you to shoot portraits as opposed to snapshots. If need be you can always have the photo cropped when ordering a print or when matting a print. Sometimes you will have to break the rules to set a mood or to make a point with a photograph.

Before all else, you need to know the basics of good photography. You need to make them second nature, then you can begin to experiment. Without complete knowledge of basic photography, most likely any experimenting that you do will result in sub-quality work. Don't let yourself down, learn all that you can and carry it with you always. Carry your camera with you everywhere that you can. Keep in mind keeping your camera out of extreme heat as this will ruin the film and extreme cold will kill the batteries.

Remember that the equipment that you use don't take a great photograph the photographer does! Keep learning, practicing, keep taking pictures, keep a camera with you all of the time and most of all, don't forget to have fun with it!

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