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What tools does an amateur photographer need?

Updated on September 17, 2012

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 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.


My Passion

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 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 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 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!!

Alison :


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    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Humphreys 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Hi hyphenbird, Redgage is a pay per view site. You don't actually sell your photos there. The community is a lot like hubpages. Very friendly and helpful. The minimum payment is 25.00. It took me a couple of months to establish myself on there but I have met some really great friends. You can also back link to your hubs on redgage. Its really not hard to upload after you get the hang of it. I'veattached my link in case you want to check it out and if I can be of any help let me know.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Photography is a dear love of mine. Like you I keep my camera handy. One never knows when that perfect moment will arise. I have thousands of photos. Have you sold many on Redgage? I have heard of it but that is all. Is it easy to upload and maintain? Thanks so much. I wish you happy camera clicks!

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Humphreys 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you so much coffeegginmyrice. I take my camera with me everywhere too. My husband sometimes get exasperated with me because I am forever wanting to stop so I can take some shots. I know what you mean about graphic software. Not only is it always changing but it can be very expensive. I am now trying to earn enough money for a 400mm lens. Since you made enough money freelancing maybe you could share some tips on how I can do the same. :) Thank you for stopping by.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I am an amateur in this hobby, indeed elite. Photography has continued to becoming a passion of mine since having a photography class during my Fine Arts years in university. It kind of stopped in my years back in the Philippines because Photography is an expensive hobby to keep up just like painting.

      When I came to Canada, I became inclined to graphics advertising which was also my major and degree back in my student years. Then, I cannot keep up with the ever fast upgrades of graphic software. I purchased my own digital SLR from my freelance earnings as a graphic artist and I am so proud of it. My Nikon is my 2nd baby. I had a Yashica before when I was in school. My Nikon has to come with me in most times for who knows what I might see.

      Bookmarking and sharing this hub to my fellow photographer friends. Useful and interesting! Thank you, Rhonda.

    • RhondaHumphreys1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rhonda Humphreys 

      6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you so much dahoglund. It would seem if you took photographs with 35mm camera it would virtually be the same as digital. unless you have a point and shoot you still have to adjust the aperture and focus as you would a film camera.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I was pretty enthused about photography in my school days. Those were the days of 35 mm cameras being the new technology. I figured if I was going to be a writer, photography is a necessary skill. I too got away from it for many years and it is like starting over again. The professional vs amateur problem is something I've tried to deal with. It is whether you look at it from a skill point of view or a tax point of view. Sharing your hub with my followers.


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