Top 5 Photography Myths: Busted!
MYTH 1: You Need An Expensive Camera
The majority of what makes a good image is outside of the camera’s control. A good photo comes down to the story you’re trying to tell and the quality of lighting, composition, and focus. Even the cheapest of cameras can properly expose an image and get the subject in focus, the rest is up to you as the photographer.
A better camera will not make you a better photographer, but a good camera can give you more flexibility and control if you know how to use it. The key here is knowing how to use it, just having an expensive camera will not improve your skills. Master the basics on a point and shoot and upgrade when the camera you own limits your capabilities. For me, I upgraded from a point and shoot to a DSLR when I wanted more control over where the camera focused. I upgraded again when I became passionate about travel photography and wanted GPS capabilities. Notice how the last upgrade wasn’t even about the quality of my photos?
Can you guess which of these photos were taken with my old Olympus (a point and shoot) and which were taken with my Canon 6D?
Top Row (from left to right)
Olympus Point and Shoot
Bottom Row (from left to right)
Olympus Point and Shoot
Olympus Point and Shoot
MYTH 2: Professionals Have THE Best Photos
A professional once told me that if you were to grade his photos he would consistently get a b+ to an a-. His photos may not be the best, but his clients are happy. In photo competitions, it’s always the amateurs who win. The reason being is that amateurs have a higher degree of variability between photos. Capturing some A++s, but also some D-s.
It’s probably those D-s that are destroying your ego, but I bet you have a few gems in your collection too. Additionally, photographers typically have a niche, and if they shoot outside that niche, it evens the playing field. I have had photographers I looked up to and even envied tell me my photos are fantastic and they could never shoot landscapes as I do. A compliment is definitely an ego boost, but also a reminder that even professionals have weaknesses.
MYTH 3: Professionals Shoot In Full Manual
Actually, photographers understand all of their camera’s controls but may choose to shoot in aperture or shutter priority mode or use a custom setting. A professional photographer will allow the camera to do most of the heavy lifting and only make minor tweaks to get the image they want. In fact, I was absolutely shocked to find many photographers shoot with autofocus! I spent 10 years perfecting manual focus and now I feel like a dummy because I don’t understand autofocus. Oh well, there’s no rule that says I have to shoot with autofocus!
MYTH 4: Avoid Bad Lighting
Golden hour is the hour before the sun rises or sets and is highly praised because of its soft light. Shoot at night, and there is not enough light, shoot in the middle of the day and the light is too harsh. So there are only two hours in the day where I can shoot? Give me a break. One trick I use in Landscape photography to get around the harsh shadows of mid-day light is to use bracket exposure where the camera will take three photos at 3 different exposures in quick succession, then Lightroom will combine the photos using the best exposure of each.
This myth takes me back to a time I overheard a husband mansplain to his wife how it was too dark to get a good picture with his DSLR Camera. The problem wasn’t the lighting, it was a lack of understanding of how to manipulate the camera to adjust for low light. The simplest solution for too much or too little light is to adjust the shutter speed to accommodate for more or less light. Understanding the exposure triangle will turn almost any situation into good lighting.
Both of these photos were taken in “bad” lighting. The one on the right was taken in the middle of the day on a sunny day. The one on the right was taken in a dimly lit room. Adjust the settings in the camera and make a few tweaks in post-processing for a great photo at any time of day!
MYTH 5: Photographers Never Take A Bad Photo
Magic doesn’t just happen the moment a professional presses the shutter button and they don’t know the exact settings and composition they need just by looking at a scene. Professionals have an idea of where to start but will take test shots, tweak settings, and move around until they get the photo they want. All the photos leading up to the perfect shot are bad photos. The difference is a professional photographer is looking at those photos as a guide on where to go next, not as a testament to their skill. Also, you’ll never see those photos in their portfolio! If you take a bad photo, analyze why the photo is bad, and make the necessary adjustments. Every photo is a learning opportunity!