Take a look on Instagram real quick, and you’ll undoubtedly see hundreds of pictures taken by “fauxtographers”: selfies, pictures of food, and videos of cats – all poorly taken in a rush to upload them and start receiving comments and “likes” from strangers.
The fact is: taking pictures is now incredibly easy to do. However, taking a good picture is still incredibly difficult. Anyone with a smartphone can take a picture; if you want to consider yourself a photographer, you need to fully dedicate yourself to the craft.
You’ll need to pick up a couple items, too.
Of course you need a camera to get started as a photographer. But with so many out there to choose from, how do you decide which is right for you?
In truth, your first camera doesn’t have to be anything too special. Most cameras nowadays work well enough to get you started, and will allow you to try your hand at photography while you decide whether or not you want to dive deeper into the hobby.
The different specs can be confusing for a beginner, so don’t worry too much about comparing megapixels (or figuring out what that even means). This will all come in time.
One thing to pay attention to is the camera’s ISO sensitivity. Quite simply, a higher ISO means the camera is better able to take pictures in darkness. If you’ve narrowed your decision down to a couple different models, choose the one with the highest ISO, and try your hand at nighttime photography.
Purchasing lenses is perhaps where you’ll have to do the most research. Depending on your purposes, you’ll want to check out multiple lenses which can be used in different situations.
You’ll definitely need a prime lens to get started. Prime lenses have one focal length, and zero zoom capabilities. It’s recommended that you purchase both a 35mm and 50mm prime lens to use in different photographic situations.
A macrolens is useful for 1:1 magnification. In other words, with a macrolens, you can create a life-sized replication of a specific object. This lens is best used when aiming for intense, crisp detail in your photographs.
If you’re looking to photograph moving subjects – such as animals or athletes – go with a telephoto lens. The faster shutter speed on these lenses means you won’t end up with a bunch of blurry shots of an event that might not be too easy to replicate, such as a track meet or an encounter with the first robin of spring.
Once you have a tripod, you can probably consider yourself a serious photographer.
Tripod stands work wonders for patient photographers who wait for the perfect moment to snap their picture of a natural scene. Since your camera is safely snapped into the stand, it won’t budge unless you need to move it. This allows for a much steadier shot than would ever be possible by hand. This is especially important if you’re taking video of a special moment.
Tripods are also great for self portraits or group photos in which the photographer doesn’t want to be left out. Used in conjunction with the timer on your camera, the tripod allows you to take a picture with your family without having to resort to using an iPhone and a selfie stick.
Gone are the days of having to bring your camera’s film to a department store to be developed. Nowadays, you can store thousands and thousands of photos on a small memory stick smaller than a baseball card.
In fact, for a 32GB memory card, you’ll probably only need to shell out about twenty bucks. Just make sure to check your camera for whether it requires an SD or CF card. Otherwise, there’s not too much else to it.
This is a nonessential for photographers, but you should definitely consider investing in a good photo editing program such as Adobe Photoshop if you really want to dive into the world of photography.
While you don’t want to use editing programs as a crutch in place of actual photography skills, you can certainly use it to touch up photographs and issues such as red eye to make family pictures more presentable.
On the other hand, perhaps photography is only part of your overall process, and your true artistic talent lies in creating collages or other edited pieces of work. If that’s the case, by all means cut, paste, crop, blur… just don’t try to pass it off as true photography.
Featured photo credit: Photography / Ocean / Flickr via farm7.staticflickr.com