I’m about to share with you my biggest pet peeve when it comes to photography. If you’ve ever been guilty of said pet peeve, do not feel badly or think I secretly hate you (I don’t! I promise!). I think a lot of it boils down to ignorance. People just don’t know any better.
When people see my photos, they sometimes ask me “What kind of camera do you have?” So I respond (a Canon Rebel XTi), and then they say the phrase I hate the most: “That’s a great camera, it takes GREAT pictures!”
No. I take great pictures.
I’m not an expert photographer. I like to think of myself as a skilled amateur who is trying to up her status. I take a lot of pictures. A LOT. Some of them are crap. But, if I look back from when I first got my camera, I am LEAPS and BOUNDS better because I take a lot of pictures and I am actively trying to become a better photographer. I am learning by taking classes, by reading, but mostly by DOING. I am nowhere near where I want to be, I’m a work in progress, and I doubt I ever really feel I am “where I want to be” because the whole beauty of the art is trying to better yourself, always wanting to up your “game”.
Don’t get me wrong. A good camera is gold. In fact, I can’t wait until I can upgrade because the camera I want has better light sensors, better features, etc. etc. that will help me improve my photography skills. But. You can no more stick a $10,000 camera in someone’s hands and expect them to be Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, or Dorthea Lange, than you could stick a $10,000 guitar in someone’s hands and expect them to be Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. On the same note, Eric or Jimi could probably play amazingly on a $25 beginner’s guitar and Annie, Ansel or Dorthea could take amazing pictures with a point&shoot. I’ve seen it done, some of my favorite pictures have been with a point&shoot. There is talent, skill, and practice involved with photography, just like any other art. Some would argue that you either have it or you don’t, but that’s up for debate.
The OTHER thing I hear a lot of, which also annoys me?: “Well, if I had photoshop, I could have amazing pictures too!”
Um. No. Photoshop is a tool. An amazing tool that I love. I use it. BUT I have found that the better I get, the less I rely on it. It is a lot like make-up. You can only enhance, you can’t create something from nothing. If you have a crappy picture, you can only make it less so.
One of my photography instructors liked to say “You are smarter than the camera. The camera can be tricked, so you have to know your craft so you can get what you want out of your camera. Make it work for you.” Not the other way around.
This post would be useless without pictures, so let me show you an example.
I didn’t do much in photoshop, except a slight unsharp mask; something I do on all my photos, as the conversion sometimes causes the photos to become slightly fuzzy (probably not noticeable to most folks, but I can tell). I also erased the stones in the background b/c I felt it took away from the picture. Not necessary, and they could have been cropped out, but I didn’t want to lose empty space. On its own, this photo is fine. Very cool. I could have boosted the colors slightly and called it a day. But I’m slightly obsessed with this free lomo action (watch the tutorial and read up on actions if you are unfamiliar with them or how they work). I decided to run it and see if it made the picture any better.
And before you say “what did people do before photoshop?” Well, people have been doing stuff in the darkroom since photography began. It’s an art. I don’t feel my photos are less genuine because I use “make up” on them.
I don’t work for my camera and photoshop. They work for me.