This week, over the Christmas break, I’ve been able to sit down and read .. and something I noticed, in fact have been noticing for a long time, is the number of articles that offer photographers the Golden Bullet which will make them more successful – make their business take off – improve their photography – and all at the touch of a button. The right camera body, the right lens, or the right software…. and not many of these articles ever talk about the right attitude, or the right skill sets.
Here’s a few headlines from this week:-
“Hack your Smartphone and become a better photographer” – really ???
” Five weather sealed lens that will improve your photography” – please explain this one to me.. It might let you get out in bad weather, but just how does it improve your photography?
“Why natural light is best for portraits” – absolutely……
“Why flash is best for portraits” – absolutely (but if you are a new starter, this could be a bit confusing..)
“Lightroom / Photoshop presets to take your photography to the next level” – yes, bolt on that preset or that filter – you don’t need to learn how it all works….
“5 of our favourite lens for environmental portraiture” – 5? Can’t we use just the one?
“Secrets of sports photography” (insert any genre at this point) – because after all it’s good to know a secret isn’t it?
I read one or two articles about building a business, and working on accounts, and keeping clients, but mostly they’re about getting new cameras, lens, computers, and software.
It’s such a shame that photographers can get sucked into GAS (gear aquisition syndrome), so much that everything sensible seems to leave their heads.
With a constant bombardment from your favourite camera brand telling us what’s new – or what’s coming soon, it’s so easy to get sucked into this strange new disease.. This obsession we have with getting the ‘next best thing’ in camera tech leads to a vicious cycle and will continue to distract us from our art if we don’t find out what it is we really need to focus on.
Education is a photographers most powerful tool when it comes to progressing, and being successful. Sure, improved gear can be a great help – but there’s nothing to beat a good course on accountancy and business management – not as exciting to be sure, but an absolute essential if you want your business to succeed.
We all love our toys though, and it’s great to have the ‘latest’ thing, and if you can afford it feel free to indulge. For those of us though who max out the credit card just to be able to say “I bought this”, you should probably reconsider things.
BUY BOOKS – NOT GEAR
Having gear can make it easier to capture the type of image you want, but won’t make you a better photographer. Buy books, look at pictures, attend gallery exhibitions, listen to podcasts.
Books are expensive yes, especially good quality photo books – but compare that to the price of a new lens. Every time I go to a talk by a photographer that I admire – I buy the book they are selling at the end. It’s not often I’ve been disappointed, and I’ve had some brilliantly creative images put in front of me that I can stare at for as long as I want without the computer being switched on. Sometimes, there’s little or no text, just pictures. It’s brilliant, and inspiring.
If you are serious about taking your photography to the next level – buy books. Buy lots of books, buy tutorial books.
Again I reiterate that having good equipment will help you create the images you seek, but it won’t make you a better photographer.
I hope that you’ve all had a happy and relaxing Christmas, and that the New Year will bring all you wish for – be it gear, or books, or both……. enjoy……