What tools does an amateur photographer need?
What is an amateur?
There are so many definitions of amateur out there. I am an amateur photographer yet I am taking photography classes from someone who has been taking pictures for over thirty years and makes a living from his photography business. But yet he considers himself an amateur.
So what is the proper definition of amateur?? This is what dictionary.com says:
Amateur [am-uh-choor, -cher, -ter, am-uh-tur] Noun
1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional.
2. an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.
3. a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity: Hunting lions is not for amateurs.
4. a person who admires something; devotee; fan: an amateur of the cinema.
When looking at the first example of the definition it says that if you engage in an activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit you are an amateur. Well I have to point out that the while I take photographs merely for the pleasure I do post them on Redgage for the financial benefit. But that in no way makes me a professional. So, I think you first have to ask yourself how serious you are about photography. And then you need to decide if this is going to be just for pleasure or is this something you would like to pursue for financial gain.
I have taken photographs most of my life, but got away from photography in the last 15 years because I had a very busy career and had little or no free time. When that all changed for me earlier in the year I started taking pictures again. At this point I did not have a camera but was using my cell phone. I have an iPhone 4s 16g which has an 8 mega pixel camera. This actually worked out quite well. I always have my phone with me so I was able to snap pictures anywhere I went.
As I took more and more pictures my friends and family would complement me on various shots. This encouraged me to take more pictures but the more pictures I took of various subjects the more frustrated I would get because I could not get a close enough shot or the right shot. So for my birthday my husband (probably under duress from hearing me complain so much) bought me a DSLR camera with both manual and automatic functions. It also came with a base lens and he bought me a 75x300mm lens to go with it. To date I have taken almost 2000 pictures with my camera in just 3 months. I can’t say that all of them have been master pieces but the improvement is clearly noted.
For me this was a smart move because I have the passion for photography. The camera that I now have has many lenses to expand. Both Nikon and Canon and many other popular name brand cameras have built their camera body so that their DSLR lenses are interchangeable with all of their bodies. So, since I have a fairly good quality camera body I can now upgrade it by investing into more lenses. Eventually I would like to become a good enough photographer to make photography my business, but I have a long way to go before that will happen.
What direction are you heading?
So, if you are trying to decide what tools you need or want you need to decide what direction you are planning to take. Is this just a hobby? If that is the direction you are planning on taking you will probably do well with your camera on your cell phone or with a point and shoot camera. When I was using my cell phone one of the things that I really miss is the convenience of it. It is small enough to carry in your pocket and most people have it with them most of the time. And some Cell phones you can now get lenses that adapt to them.
Now with a point and shoot camera, it is similar to the cell phone in the fact that they are smaller than most entry level DSLR cameras. They also do everything for you automatically. The prices for a point and shoot camera are in a lower price range which makes them affordable for a wider audience and most take a pretty good picture.
If you have decided that photography is your passion and you’d like to become a photographer for a living, depending on how much money you have available your best option is to go with a quality medium price entry level camera. There are many options out there. You will want a camera that you can take the lenses off that can be used on a different body so that if you choose to upgrade the body of your camera you can still use the lenses that you have already invested in. To me I liked purchasing my camera in a bundle. I feel this is your best option. When buying a bundle package you will get at least one lens to start you out with until you have enough money to purchase additional lenses.
Your lenses are what you really want to invest in. They are what will make a difference in your pictures. And if you invest in the correct ones when and if you upgrade the body of your camera will be a part of your new camera body. Typically you will receive a basic 18x55mm lens with your camera body.
The camera type, brand and lenses are important but one other thing that is just as important is knowledge. If this is going to be a career that you want to pursue you should invest in learning about your craft. Remember, knowledge is power. Whether you take classes on line or you enroll in a school you need to learn all that you can.
Online free learning options:
There are many tutorials on line and websites such as youtube that have videos that you can learn from. Or if you’re looking for free schooling you can enroll in Alison.com and when you finish their course you will be certified. The only thing they ask is that you refer others to their site that also would like to learn. Another site is lynda.com that has free tutorials that you can watch. You can also pay $25. a month to have full access to their whole program. One other great option is photo.net. Photo.net is an online community that was started in 1993 and are a peer-to-peer educational system for people who wish to become better photographers. The community ranges from newcomers to experienced, successful professionals. Youcan post your pictures on their website and the community will critique It. It does cost $25. per year but there is a wealth of information on their site and most of the site is accessible without signing in.
So there are many options out there which ever direction you decide to go in. I take my camera with me everywhere I go. Because I know the one thing I need to do is practice, practice, practice. So whether you choose photography as just a hobby or a profession Remember that each new subject that you take a photo of is a different set of learning.
I have included the links to the sites that I mentioned above. Happy shooting!!