Philosophy about Photography

Knowing Your Gear

After a couple of refreshing conversations with my Aunt and a close friend about various aspects of photography, it has inspired me to start a new series, “Philosophy about Photography”. A series based on my love of wisdom about the art of photography. Along with my thoughts and ideas that I’ve gathered from my time behind my camera. Let’s kick things off with the importance of knowing your gear.

When people around me see my images and realize I’m a photographer, the most frequent asked question, “Is whatever camera/brand any good?”And after a  bit of Q & A, I could steer them in a reasonable path to a camera that should suit their needs. But now… my answer is totally different. If asked the same question today my response would be, “Heck no, that camera is complete garbage!” Lol The fact is all of them are, if one doesn’t know how to use it properly. Gear doesn’t make one a photographer. In my opinion, one must have a firm understanding of exposure, an eye for what makes a stunning image and lastly know the limitations of his or her gear.

Sadly, I had to dust off my gear for this shot.

So, the obvious question is “How does one get to know their gear?” There’s plenty of ways but I want to share two habits I feel strongly about and use myself. I’ve written about both in the past and feel it’s time to revisit them both. First is to sit down and read the manuals of ALL your gear. Discover and experiment what it can and can not do. Then as frequently as you can, put what you learned into action. And not just once a month or only when you go to some event. Bring your camera everywhere you go as much as possible. Take photos of anything and everything. And don’t be afraid to test out those unused functions and features. Try, fail, learn and repeat. There’s no question, you’re going to fuck up some images. But it’s OK, just as long as you learn from your mistakes. The sooner you get rid of the idea that every image you capture is going to be perfectly exposed, razor sharp and beautifully composed the better off you’ll be.

And the second method I want to share is to develop a shooting routine. One that helps you slow down, focus in on what’s catching your eye and aid in how you’re going to capture an image. Talk to photographers that share their thoughts, knowledge and experience of shooting with you. If they have some form of a routine, try theirs. If it works, cool. If not, change what doesn’t. Heck add whatever that helps you and make it your own. Here’s a link to my shooting routine,

Both of these methods can help you get familiar with the controls and functions of your gear. Forming a muscle memory that allows you to change your settings thoughtlessly and effortlessly. The added benefit of knowing your gear is that it is a huge confidence builder. And having that confidence in yourself behind the camera is not only priceless but necessary as well. Time in time again, you will start to rely on your skills as a photographer and not the luck of spray & pray.

My perception of photography is that it is about creating images that gets people to have some form of an emotional response. Gear is only a tool that allows you to do so. And that’s why I feel it is so important to know how to use them properly. Thankfully the more time you spend behind your camera creating images, the better you’ll get at it. I would love to hear about any habits or practices you all have and use when it comes to knowing your gear. Please share them in the comment section below.

Stay safe and thanks for stopping by,

Steven

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