If only I had a better camera …
Photography beginners can make big improvements to their photography, not by buying better equipment, but by understanding photography basics and learning to use the cameras they own.
“I would be happy to be a better photographer … if only I had a better camera.”
These are the comments I hear every day in my gallery. What many people don’t understand is that the type of camera you use is not the key to improving your photography.
Pride makes it hard to admit that we’re just not very good at something. Photography is no exception: it’s certainly much easier to blame the camera. The problem is, if we wanted to take better photos, would buying a better camera make this happen?
Of course not.
The truth is, you can take better photos no matter what type of camera you have. Digital cameras have become so sophisticated that almost all cameras now have aperture and shutter speed settings, not to mention incredibly powerful optical zoom lenses. This is a feature that, until recently, was only available on SLR cameras. So, if you want to take better photos, the features are right in front of you. All you have to do is take the time to learn how to use it.
To take better photos, start with the manual that came with your camera. This will tell you how to operate the main settings, although it may not be very good at explaining what they are for. Then find the information you need to understand how those settings will help you take better photos. There are courses, workshops, books and ebooks that will tell you what you need to know.
If you’re paying good money for a course or ebook, make sure it’s about taking better photos. These days, a lot of the information out there is about improving your photos on the computer, and not about taking better photos.
Much of what you can learn has nothing to do with cameras. It is true; You can improve your photography without changing a single thing about your camera. My experience in nature photography has taught me that the way you use light to capture your subject makes a big difference. Weather and the time of day can affect light, so your timing and patience can be the difference between a great snapshot and a photo.
Developing an eye for composition is an important skill that really has nothing to do with the price tag on your camera. You can go a long way toward better photography by learning to think like an artist, not like a tourist. A good guide to photography should teach you this essential element of photography as well.
Here are a few simple examples.
If you are photographing waterfalls, try to look at the scenery creatively. Maybe you can stand back and take a photo following the flow of the water upstream, with the waterfall in the background. Or you could try looking through the tree branches, to frame the subject, instead of just snapping the first and clearest angle.
When photographing humans and animals, think about how best to position them to create a stronger composition. Instead of placing them in the center of the photo looking straight at the camera, try positioning them to one side, looking towards the center of the image.
These are just a few simple ideas to get you thinking. The bottom line is this: you can take a big step towards becoming a better photographer by concentrating on the artistic aspects of the craft, not just the technicalities.
Of course, there is a lot you can do with a compact camera, you could do even better if you had an SLR camera. However, buying a better camera won’t help you take better photos if you just switch it to automatic and keep taking snapshots. So here’s a tip. Don’t overspend; just buy a camera you can afford, then really learn how to use it. As simple as that. No matter which camera you have, you can take better photos with a little knowledge, and a little practice. If you decide to upgrade later, so be it, but learning the basics of good photography will get you much further than giving in to the “If only I had a better camera” mindset.