Mark David Magat
The issue of artists providing less-than-quality work can hit at any time and the solution is actually quite simple: use and enjoy the learning process.
In this day and age of professional freedom, we see more people taking shots at being an artist or a creative for a living. However, with this growth of supply in these new ventures, we also see a lack of actual quality work. We see copy cats and repetitive styles.
In a very technical art like photography, it’s easy to get lost in a specification war with your fellow photographers. But do gear or specs really matter? No, especially for beginners, your gear doesn’t matter. Professional photographers have expensive gear for efficient work, yet they can produce the same results with beginner-level gear. They just have to be more clever on how to work around the gear.
Yes, new gear with all the new features can help you learn faster, but gear-hoarding gets in the way of learning. Wanting the newest and latest camera body with the new L-series lenses can get in the way of learning the ins and outs of the camera you already have.
There’s a reason most professional photographers suggest manual film cameras if you really want to take photography seriously. Sticking with fully-manual film cameras restricts you to the bare-bones and forces you to learn quick due to the steep learning curve. Considering all the costs that film has, it will be painful to make mistakes, so you’ll learn to make fewer and fewer mistakes until you’ve mastered the basics of exposure.
But once people master the basics, it seems they stick to it exclusively. Some photographers stick to shallow depths of field and long exposures for their self-proclaimed artistic photos. But there’s no emotion or story within the photo. After learning the basics, learn to tell a story.
Artist are world-builders and storytellers, even if people don’t see it that way. And the way we, as photographers, tell a story with our photos is with our composition, our lighting and yes, basic exposure. Learning how a photo can drive a person’s eye can help tremendously with how you convey your story.
Overall, photographers should stop obsessing over the newest and coolest gear and focus on learning and mastering the gear they have. And if they have already done that, learn how to tell stories with photos using composition and lighting.
We make art to share, and to learn and to tell our stories. And most of the time it seems like a never-ending climb up a mountain to learn more. But if you really love what you’re doing, then you won’t mind and the view from up there will be worth it.