(Mon Repos, Queensland Australia.)
Hi, I’m guest blogger and professional Instagrammer Lauren Bath and this week I’m talking about Photography. But first I want to tell you a little secret and you might not believe me. The secret is that I’m not actually a very good photographer! Phew, it pains me to say that and I know that a lot of my followers disagree but there it is, my dirty secret. So how does a self confessed “average” photographer earn themselves over 300,000 online fans and score a career in travel photography? I think I can shed some light on that.
I love photography. I love my camera and I love pictures! In fact I can’t get enough of looking at pictures and taking pictures and talking about pictures and … well you get the picture, haha. This helps a lot! Never underestimate the power of passion and interest. Like most people I’m also of mid-range intelligence and artistic ability. I did well in school, I can learn and apply concepts, I can draw simple illustrations and if the mood strikes me string a few sentences together. The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to be overly creative or smart to learn photography. The physical act of taking photographs in manual mode scares and overwhelms a lot of people and it shouldn’t. If I can learn, you can learn.
How to begin? When I began my photography career I did what most people do and got myself a little dslr with some kit lenses. My salesman was a photographer and talked me into a nifty camera bag, some speedy memory cards and, most importantly, a tripod and remote. Did I know why I needed these things? Not a clue! I will never forget a friend asking me the focal length and maximum aperture of my lenses, he may as well have been speaking Spanish!
I wanted to get up and running so I did a little beginner course in the store where I got the camera. I learnt how to hold it, what focal length means (thank god!), how to change my focus point (now the first thing I teach my own students) and a few other little bits and pieces. I can’t recommend a course like this enough. It was detailed enough for me to walk away with the skills to start shooting but not too detailed that I was completely overwhelmed. Funnily enough I spent that afternoon at the beach trying to shoot in manual mode with no idea of what a light meter was or how to read it. If you’re a photographer yourself you will know why most of my shots were pure white or pure black!
(Gold Coast, Queensland Australia)
After my lesson and subsequent failed attempts at shooting manually I then read my cameras manual. Can I just say that this is going to be the worst piece of literature that you will ever lay eyes on. It also teaches you absolutely nothing about how to take a photo! So why the hell did I do it to myself? Because I wanted to know how to operate my camera! Understanding exposure means nothing if you don’t know how to adjust your aperture. Having a great natural eye for composition won’t help you if you’re stuck in a mode you don’t understand. Knowing how to change your settings is kind of important so pour yourself a glass of wine and get those reading glasses on.
(The Kimberly, Western Australia.)
After I knew the ins and outs of physically working my camera I decided that I wanted to know about exposure. How exactly is my camera capturing light on a sensor and reproducing what my eye sees? There are three things you need to understand about exposure, THREE things! I can memorize three things with my eyes closed and I know that you can too! Those things are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. The coolest thing about these three things is that they each have good and bad sides that you will end up constantly playing against each other. And the more you do this, the better you will be at manipulating an image. So what are they? Well I’m not going to teach you exposure here in this blog post. It would be long and difficult to do with the written word. Instead I encourage you to do one or all of the things that I did to learn exposure…
(Bundaberg, Queensland Australia.)
Learning exposure 101. I learnt exposure many ways and continue to learn and understand it to this day. Firstly I googled it. I googled exposure, the exposure triangle, aperture, ISO and shutter speed. I read a little of each article I found until I stumbled on a website that resonated with me. Once I knew a little I started to talk about exposure to anyone who would listen, friends, other beginner photographers and especially the poor guy that sold me the camera. I would hound him at work until a concept made sense. With some basic understanding I then began shooting in manual and semi manual modes like aperture priority and I splurged on a private lesson or two to ask all the questions that had been building up. Finally and most importantly I took photographs, allllllllll the time! I shot anything and everything in every mode from pure automatic to pure manual. I then inspected the final images and came to understand what worked and why. These million or so first images really got me to where I am today. It’s the age of digital, you can’t shoot enough images. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake.
Composition! So here I was, I knew what all the dials on my camera did and I knew more or less how to control my exposure and why, the next important thing is really composition. Some might say that this is the most important aspect of photography and in a way they’re not wrong. Knowing how to structure an image so that it appeals to people is a gift that is hard to learn. Some people call it “the eye” and those that have it whisper conspiratorially that it’s something that just can’t be taught. Don’t listen to them! Even without a natural ability to compose you can still learn to take great pictures! You probably know what I’m going to say now? Practice! Take photos and ask for feedback. Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a place you could go for feedback? There is, it’s called social media. Develop a thick skin and ask for genuine feedback from people, you won’t regret it!
(Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast Australia.)
Through all of this it kind of sounds like I know what I’m talking about. And I have certainly taken some beautiful images, nobody can take that away from me. So why don’t I consider myself a great photographer? Well you’ve probably noticed that the world is flooded with photographers now and some of them take images that make me want to cry they’re so good. Time after time these guys produce award winning shots. I don’t! I understand my camera, I understand exposure and I have my own original hand crafted style and that’s enough.
(Montreal, Quebec Canada.)
With an eye for beautiful things, some fail safe techniques and some pretty expensive equipment I have managed to build up a great fan base that I love and appreciate every day. You guys have made me what I am today and I love that you love my pictures. But don’t ever think that you’re not good enough to do what I do. Be bold and confident in the way that you learn and progress and you just might surprise yourself!
(Portrait Session, Queensland Australia.)