Sunday, December 27, 2009

How do you get to Carnegie Hall... PRACTICE!

I have spent many years trying to perfect my craft, hone my skills and creatively produce images that stand out. Shooting since I was 15. (Skip ahead 22 years) As of lately and highly due to the digital era, you hear of many people “wanting to become photographers”.

Just because you may own a camera does not make you a professional or a photographer. It takes years of learning, critiquing, and understanding a camera completely. Now I’m not saying that someone that picks up a camera can't take amazing photos, I am simply stating, it does take more than that.

I have heard stories of a few people buying a D40 or a Rebel and believing they can begin to make money and “become famous”.

To book jobs it requires many things, contracts, professionalism, understanding lighting, understanding if something goes wrong with your images, it more than likely because of you not having a full knowledge to what to do in certain shooting conditions. Not the equipment. Realize that if you screw up, your client, the one that hired you, can sue you for not providing them with the service and the photos they paid you for.

Practice, take a class, and get out of the AUTO mode. Buy a flash and use it. Buy a film camera that is completely manual and USE it.

Know what ISO - ASA is, Shutter, Aperture, Exposure compensation, why using a lens like an 18-200mm is not the best choice as a “professional”, learn to use a flash properly and learn what happens when you bounce the light. Learn why you have to spend the money on a F2.8 lens. Make mistakes; learn from them; just don’t make them while on a job.

Learn about the ones that came before you. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Eddie Adams, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Weegee, Joe Rosenthal, Helen Levitt and controversial photographer Mapplethorpe; these are just a few. But they are considered the Masters of Photography; they are our teachers and our counselors.

I have an older friend that used to shoot with Ansel Adams, used to discuss photography and where it was going. (I love hearing his stories). He was told that if photography started with the 35mm cameras, Ansel Adams would not be the photographer he is today. He would not have picked up his first camera. What would of the world been like, no Zone System? No knowledge of the perfect prints or negatives?

Ansel Adams is more than just a poster you can hang on your wall. He developed what was widely used by many photographers that shot black and white then and today. The Zone System which is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer in 1941. The Zone System provides photographers with a systematic method of precisely defining the relationship between the way they visualize the photographic subject and the final results. Although it originated with black & white sheet film the Zone System is also applicable to roll film, both black and white and color,negative and reversal,  and to digital photography.

There is so much to learn, I learn everyday; through research and practice. I keep up with the latest equipment, software and techniques.I recommend you do the same, even if for a hobby or professionally.

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