With the help of visual.ly, I was able to create a demographic infographic out of the information stored in my Facebook fan’s bios. It was interesting to see the sorts of people that are following this website, and I though it might be interesting to share with you too, to see if you match the demographic. What do you think? Leave a comment below, and of course, if you’re not a part of this, you can join the fan page by clicking like below, or here.
Are you an American male, aged 25-34?
Ps. Don’t worry, there’s a proper post for today coming later, this is just a bit of fun.
As of today, I am now focusing full time on ExpertPhotography. In the past I have worked four days a week for another website, while fitting in photography jobs, and working on this website on a monday and in the evenings. That’s right, everything that you have read on this website has been written in my spare time. All of that is now changing, and I will be focusing, full time, on this website.
What this means for you
Well, from now on, there’s going to be a lot more content for one thing, and that content is going to be more varied. I will still aim to produce 2/3 tutorials a week, but I’m going to intersperse it with different content too. Here’s what you can expect:
Tutorials, between 2-3 times a week, covering the same sort of content that I’ve covered in the past.
Photos once a fortnight. With all this new free time I have, I will be able to go out and take more photos, and then come back and share them with you, while studying them at the same time.
Interesting news articles and studies, such as this, interspersed with the rest of the content.
The aim is to bring your roughly 7 posts a week, with more varied content.
How to spot the difference
I’m very aware that a lot of my fans are fans because they want to learn from photography tutorials, and may not want this wider range of content that I’m sharing with them now. To make sure that I’m not outcasting anyone, I’ve come up with a new way of sharing my content on Facebook, which will help you to spot the difference in your news feed.
Whenever I post a full article, which is usually around 2,000 words, I will always post a photo, and attach the link to that, like this. When the content is much shorter, such as a news article, and sometimes photos, the content will be posted as a link, like this. If I write anything that I don’t think will appeal to the original fans in the same way, it will always be posted as a link.
That’s about all you need to know. If you’re not a fan already, and this sounds good to you, then be sure to click like below to keep up to date.
Mastering photography is simple and hard at the same time. It’s simple because it mostly comes down to practice, hard work, and a thirst for knowledge, but it’s hard because not everyone has what it takes. I would liken it to any other art form, whether you use a paintbrush, or a musical instrument; it takes a lot of talent to become good. This is the sort of talent that you either have, or don’t have, because much like you can’t train a terrible voice to sing, you can’t train a poor eye to see. And that’s what photography is really, it’s seeing something that others miss, and capturing it in a photo.
Read Your Camera’s Manual
Day 1: Read your camera manual. I know it sounds a lame, but this is really important if you want to progress fast with your photography. If you’re using an old film camera, they’re really easy to learn, but if you’re using a shiny new DSLR, then there will be features in there that you’ll never understand until you’ve picket up your camera’s manual. When I got my first DSLR, that’s the first thing I did, in fact, I carried it around with me when ever I used to go out on photowalks, because I found that learning something once wasn’t enough for me, I had to constantly check up on it.
I’m a kinesthetic learner so reading from a book wasn’t the best way for me to learn, but so long as I had my camera with me to use at the same time, I could learn much more easily. If you don’t follow this step first, then the rest of the process is going to be an uphill struggle.
Exposure is key to learning photography, because every photo is an exposure. Learning how exposure works will help you to take control of your camera, and take better photos. As you start to learn what shutter speed, aperture and ISO does, you’ll learn about the other affects that each have on your photos, which can produce creative results.
The more you know about how exposure works, the easier it will be for you to take great photos, as you’ll have a better understanding of the consequences to the changes you make to your camera. Poor exposure is one of the most popular contributors to bad photography, so by simply learning what it takes to correctly capture a photo, you’re well on the way to taking better photos.
Learn The Rest
Once you’ve got exposure out of the way, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to start learning what the rest of your camera can do, and seeing as you’ve read your camera’s manual, you’ll find it easy to do on your camera. This can range from basic camera settings like metering modes, white balance, and exposure compensation, to depth of field, focal length and the crop factor. The more you understand, the more knowledge you will have at your disposal when it comes to taking photos.
The first thing you should look into is shooting modes, because the sooner you understand what the different mode dials do, the sooner you’ll be able to get away from shooting on full-auto or program, and start shooting in manual or a priority mode, which will always produce better photos if done properly.
Learning composition has undoubtably made a huge difference to the way in which I take photos, because I now start to see things that I used to miss, and adjust my framing to include them. This can be anything from using the rule of thirds and vertical lines, to the golden section and eye-lines. It can be very complicated on first glance, but the more you read up about composition techniques, the more you’ll start to see it when you look through your viewfinder, and taking good photos will become much easier.
The difference between my photography before and after I studied composition is quite astounding, because I know better than to take a photo without thinking about how it can be improved fist, and the more you practice, the faster that decision making will become.
I know, I know, I just told you to learn composition, but as with everything, it’s never that simple. If I just said that you had to learn composition, you’d think that the struggle was over and your photos would turn out great, which isn’t the case. You need to learn composition so that you can start to see how you might improve a photo, but forget all of the ‘rules’, because in reality they’re not rules at all, they’re guides.
These guides will help to guide your eyes into taking great photos, but should never be followed just for the sake of it. There are no rules to taking great photos, because all art if subjective, and one man’s junk can be another man’s treasure. So long as you’ve installed the knowledge of composition in your mind, then you’ll be able to see what you can do to take better photos.
Take your Camera Everywhere
This will make a huge difference to your photography because if you’ve always got your camera on you, you’ll start to develop the eyes and mind of a photographer. Instead of just looking for photos when you’re taking your camera on a walk, you’ll start to see these potential photos everywhere, as you’ll always have your camera on you. Not only will it help to train your mind, but you’ll actually start taking better photos, because you’ll be taking more of them.You can’t take a photo if you don’t have a camera on you.
Buy a good camera strap, like a Sun Sniper, and start to organise your photography workflow better, then this will all start to happen very easily.
Buy a New Lens
Be careful about this one because buying a new lens can spawn somewhat of a habit, which gets expensive. When you start to see what a new lens can do for your photography, and your understanding, you’ll want to buy a lot more. I learned a lot about photography by buying a 50mm f/1.8, because as I said before, I’m a kinesthetic learner, and it’s easier for me to see how changing something on my camera, will change my photos. You’ll start to learn more about aperture, depth of field, sharpness, focal length, perspective, and lighting, to name just a few. There really is only so much that you can do by reading, and it gets to a point where you do just have to pick up a camera and start taking photos.
I recently wrote about photo projects and what they can do for your photography in this post, and I’m a big fan of them because they can focus your learning into a certain area, as well as encourage regular photography. It can get a little bit tedious, but if you can stick with it, it will force you to take better photos. They make for excellent new years resolutions, because for at least a few months, you will have a focus on something that you want to do. More than anything, a project, such as a 365 will track your progress as a photographer, and encourage you to take more photos, which will invariably see you improve.
Join a Photography Community
Communities are a great way to start interacting with people who are interested in similar aspects of photography as you, whether it’s a certain style of photography, or help with photography in general. I used to use Flickr, but I generally prefer smaller communities. Sites like Flickr and 500px are a great way to find people who are into the same sorts of photography as you, as well as being reliable backups. I personally no longer use either, but that’s largely down to the amount of time I have available (running websites, a Facebook fan page, and a Twitter account can take a lot of time).
I like to use smaller photography forums, such as the Expert Photography Forum, which allows me to help other people with their photography, as well as find answers for myself – I would encourage you to check it out.
Write a Photography Blog
This one may surprise you as an option for improving your photography, and I’ll be honest, it surprises me too. When I started this website, I never knew the effect that it would have over my time, and my photography, and I certainly welcome the way it has changed both. It has encouraged me to do more photography for the fun of it, as well as experiment with different styles and techniques, which has ultimately improved my photography.
You don’t have to wait years to start one, and you don’t even have to write, or teach anything, it can just be a collection of your photography if you like, such as a Tumblr page. No one needs to read it if you don’t want, it can just be for you, like a personal photography diary. When you start to sit down and study your photography (I do encourage writing about it), then it will start to become clear where you’re going wrong, and what you can do to improve.
Twitter is a very powerful tool for reaching thousands of people in an instant, but like most, before I started, I didn’t really get it. It’s hard to find quality people to follow at times so I’ve put together this little list of 20 people (in no particular order), who I like to follow. Twitter a great way of reaching someone personally and interacting with them with very little effort – it’s more than just a feed of updates about breakfast, it’s a great resource to replace your RSS feed and put all of your favourite people together.
“I tweet about photography. I do love artistic nude photography. Ask me anything via @MichaelZelbel, I never check DM’s.”
I follow Michael because not only does he share lots of photos and interesting links and reviews, but he’s willing to answer anyones questions, and publicly at that. Questions that you didn’t even know you wanted answered are being revealed to you, right in your Twitter feed. There’s a mixture of personal thoughts and daily anecdotes thrown into the mix as well, so it feels like more than just talking to a computer screen; you’re actually interacting with a widely respected photographer.
“LIFE.com – the most comprehensive and iconic collection of professional photography on the web.”
It says it all in their blurb really; LIFE have one of the world’s largest image collections and they share them regularly to well over 1.4 million followers. They seem to post about 10 times a day so you don’t have to worry about missing out on some awesomely inspiring photos and articles, as they’re shared quite regularly. There’s a lot to be learnt from just looking at photography and this is one of the best resources for that.
“world, travel, lifestyle, stock photographer. Social Media coach and consultant to photographers. Husband. Father. Austinite”
Jack is a professional photographer who narrates parts of his life through the use of Twitter. He shares words of wisdom, inspiring quotes, useful links, and little nuggets of information about what a professional photographer gets up to. I find it interesting to see how other photographers work and Twitter is a great way to see their thought process. Jack’s got some awesome photography and is well worth a follow.
“Notice the plethora of bad professional photographers these days? We’re Mary Anne and Ginger and we provide the snark around here.”
This is one of my favourite Tweeters to waste my time with because they offer up a source of amusement for me and many other photographers. They find a wide variety of fauxtographers and shame them without naming them, by showing their work to people all over the world. It’s pretty amusing to see what people try to consider photography, and that’s why it’s so popular, but I’m sure there’s a large group of us just staying tuned to make sure our work isn’t put on there!
Haje is the owner of photocritic.org which takes you to Pixiq.com, where you’ll see his articles which he has written as one of their experts. Like all good Tweeters on this list, he can be reached through his Twitter fairly easily and interacts with users daily, with a mix of photo related goodness and personal updates on the life of a photographer.
“Light Stalking is all about beautiful photography and getting the word out about the talented people that produce it. We try to impart a little knowledge too.”
Light Stalking have been absent from my lists in the past, but that all changes here. They produce some of the best photography tutorials on the internet, but don’t use their feed to constantly try to encourage you to visit their website; they also share some really interesting links from across the internet. Even though they have over 300,000 followers on Twitter, they manage to keep their Twitter feeling a lot more personal by posting phone photos and interacting with random users.
@1854 - BJP (British Journal of Photography)- 1854
“Breaking news about photography from the editors of the British Journal of Photography, monthly magazine for professional photographers.”
These guys made it onto my list of top 20 photography websites in the past because they share some of the best links and articles on the internet when it comes to photography news. Their Twitter page is no different, in fact, it may even be a little bit better as they follow the rule of interacting with their photographers at any chance they can get. If you’re interested in photography news, then these guys are a must follow.
“Author, Trainer, Photoshop Guy. Avid Photographer, Owner of Dave Cross Workshops in Tampa”
This is just a small part of Dave’s about section on his website: “Over the last 12 years, Dave has taught Photoshop in every state in the United States, throughout Canada and in Europe, consistently earning rave reviews. Dave is well-known for his engaging style, his humor and his ability to make complex topics easy to understand. In 2009 Dave was inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.” If that’s not enough to make you want to follow him, then I don’t know what is!
“Professional Photographer / Web Strategist: Capturing the worlds beauty one photo at a time. Photographer of landscapes, nature and anything beautiful”
Jim Goldstein is a full-time professional photographer, based out of San Francisco, California who specializes in outdoor and nature photography. Passionate about nature and the environment Jim infuses elements of the natural world into his commercial and editorial work, which he kindly shares through his Twitter.
“We make photography (more) awesome! • As seen in The New York Times, ReadyMade, Wall Street Journal, & CBS Early Show!”
If you’ve ever visited photojojo.com, you’ll be familiar with their ethos – to do one thing and to do it very, very well. They find the best photography related links from the internet and share them with anyone who visits their website, Facebook or Twitter, and I have to say, they do do it very, very well. With lots of updates each day, you never have to wait too long to find something to distract yourself with.
“Photographer, author … poet, dreamer. I enjoy long walks with my camera, pushing pixels in Photoshop & talking geek by a crackling fire. Art makes me happy.”
Nicole is a food and lifestyle photographer and her Twitter feed is full of useful little tips and photos, which are shared with nearly 10,000 followers. Photography blogging seems to be somewhat dominated by men, so it’s nice to see a female’s take on it all, and Nicole provides us with anything from help for followers to organising photo-walks and sharing her amazing photography – it’s all in a days Tweeting.
“only the best photos – handpicked & filtered for you – from pro and amateur photogs – out of a love for photography.”
This another great resource for finding amazing images to inspire your photography. These guys handpick only the best photos, which is by no means an easy job – there’s some amazing photography out there and even more bad photography! They don’t just link to their own site either, they share links to different websites and retweet other users, which helps you to find even more original content to find inspiration from.
“Obsessed with documentary photography and all things photographic”
Some of you may be familiar with Steve has he’s got a pretty strong reputation for quality and passionate photography, and his Twitter is no different. Writing on his Twitter appears to be a walk in the park after the books that he’s written and unlike a lot of photographers on this list, his updates tend to remain very photography orientated, making him one of my favourite Twitter users on this list.
“Magnum Photos is a photographic cooperative of great diversity and distinction owned by its photographer members.”
“Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually.” -Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Magnum Photos library is a living archive updated daily with new work from across the globe. The library houses all the work produced by Magnum photographers and some special collections by non-members. There are approximately one million photographs in both print and transparency in the physical library, with over 500,000 images available online – These are images that you get to see everyday through their Twitter.
David is currently the only person to make it onto three lists on my website; “Top 20 Photography Website”, “Top 20 Most Influential Photographer Bloggers” and now this. With a huge on-line monthly readership of over 300,000 photographers from 175 countries, David has built himself up quite a following by being the master of his niche – lighting. From my experience, he’s always been happy to help out his 50,000+ followers with questions, as well as providing amusing responses for the stupid ones.
“The premier resource for photography enthusiasts. We review, report, and follow the best in digital cameras, photo gear, and camera news.”
This is a really awesome resource which provides up to date new and reviews related to photography. Whenever I hear something new that’s going on in photography, there’s a good chance that I heard it here first. They have just the right mix of interesting links, relevant reviews and fun rumours to keep my entertained while I’m supposed to be working.
“We are the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (led by Scott Kelby), the leading worldwide resource for Photoshop training.”
If you’re into learning about Photoshop, then you would have heard of Scott Kelby before – he’s kind of a big deal when it comes to post production. This is the national association for Photoshop professionals and the Twitter account serves up some great tips and tutorials as well as what’s new in the world of post production.
“Showcases work from emerging photographers alongside established photographers who have completed a new project.”
These guys are another one of those great Twitter users who share the work of others, in an effort to inspire many people. Only, they do it a little bit differently. They don’t just share photos from the past that have been shown a thousand times before, they will share work from emerging photographers alongside established photographers who have completed a new project. The site and Twitter covers commercial and fine art photography, and is a resource through which photo editors, art directors, art buyers, and people with an interest in photography can discover new talent.
“Editorial, fine art and commercial photographer, photoblogger, photoshop fiend, and husband to the wonderful @libby_chromasia“
David started out as a fine art photographer, but in the past few years has also moved into photography and photoshop training in the form of face-to-face sessions and online tutorials. The reason that I follow David is not only because I want to learn something from him, but because of tweets like this “@michalfanta The more I teach photography (shooting & PP) the more I realise that the tools aren’t v. important. It’s how you use them & why”.
“I teach expert knowledge and techniques for beginner to advanced photographers. Follow me, i’ll follow you back in 24 hrs. www.expertphotography.com”
I do my best to share what I consider to be the best tutorials and links on the internet, as well as retweeting other people that I find interesting. This is also a great way of getting a hold of me, and I’m more than willing to answer any questions that you may have. Bigger questions go to Facebook as 140 characters can be a bit of a pain, but if I can help, then I certainly will. I stive to make learning as easy as possible with the content that I write, with the use of lots of photos, detailed explanations and well structured tutorials. If I can help you with anything, then come by Twitter or Facebook and let me know!
Nikon made a bit of a mistake yesterday when they posted this on their fan page:
“A photographer is only as good as the equipment he uses, and a good lens is essential to taking good pictures! Do any of our facebook fans use any of the NIKKOR lenses? Which is your favorite and what types of situations do you use it for?”
We all know that what they said was wrong, but the important question is what makes it so wrong and why has it gotten us so riled up? Firstly It would be fair to say that they got it completely backwards, so much so that part of it could almost be a typo – the equipment is really only as good as the photographer using it, not the other way around.
The idea that it all comes down to the gear that you’re using is ridiculous, even for a camera and lens manufacturer to suggest it. I think the reason it ruffled so many feathers is because a lot of good photographers have had something like this said to them: “Wow, your photos are really good, you must have a great camera”, or overhead a statement like this: “look at the size of his lens, mine is bigger than that, his doesn’t even zoom”, and statements like that don’t really go down so well, so for Nikon to suggest it too, is pretty poor.
A good photograph is not the product of buying the best gear that money can buy, it’s about how you use that gear to your advantage. A good photo stands up by itself without the need for special effects or editing. More often then not, when I’ve found that I’ve produced a good photo, it’s a result of good composition, used subtly so that the viewer can tell it’s good without having having to have it explained to them, like in this photo below.
But Aren’t They Kind Of Right?
Well, no, but in a very twisted way… yes. Let me explain. There are certain things that budget equipment can’t do, such as take really good low light photos, so in that way, they have a very small point. Don’t get me wrong, I buy the best quality gear that I can afford, but that’s because from personal experience, I always end up regret buying inferior products. I will buy the top of the range Canon lenses and I absolutely love using them and I get some excellent result while using them, but it’s not the lens that’s doing the work for me; it’s me. When it comes down to it, it’s the photo that’s being seen, not the camera that was used to take it.
It would also be unprofessional to turn up to a photography job without the correct gear, which helps to produce a good photo, such as an external flash and a low light lens if you’re shooting indoors, but taking photos on a job doesn’t make you a good photographer either. Even taking good photos doesn’t necessarily make you a good photographer; everyone gets lucky once and a while, it’s all about consistently good results.
So Then, What Makes A Good Photographer?
This is a very subjective question as it’s mostly a matter of opinion more than anything, so someone I may think is awesome, you may think to be rubbish. You should only ever shoot for yourself, as trying to please everyone will prove itself to be completely pointless as it’s unlikely you’ll ever succeed. There’s popular opinion on who is a good photographer, but there’s no rule which you can follow to take you there – mostly it’s down to practice.
“Your first 10,000 photos are your worst” – Henri Cartier Bresson
The quote above will ring true to anyone who actually uses their camera enough to take over 10,000 photos, as the improvement in this time is huge. There’s only so long you can go into photography ignorant to the elements, before you have to learn how to take better photos, and it’s likely that if you’ve reached that many photos, you’ll have learnt something by now. Practice really is the key to good photography, and when you compliment that with study of composition and photography, you’ll start to see your photography improving a big way.
As cameras get better and better, the quality of the images improve, and that’s something we’re all appreciative of because they begin to allow us to do stuff we couldn’t do before by providing features such as an improved dynamic range, but that’s still not what good photography is. The camera is not your tool, it’s your eyes and your mind that make the photos. If you want to become better at photography, I strongly suggest that you carry your camera around with you much more often, and before long, you’ll be thinking like a photographer.
So What Now With Nikon?
Nikon is a fantastic company and they make some really great gear. They should not be thought any less of for the twisted thought process of someone in their PR department, as I assure you, there will be plenty of outrage within the company’s staff about what was said. When it comes down to it, it was just a sentence that was very foolishly said by one of the largest camera suppliers in the world. It doesn’t make them look good, but something very good has come out of this; photographers all over the world are throwing in their 2 cents on this matter and a discussion has developed about photography, and not just the gear which we use.
I hope you’ve taken something away from this today. I originally posted this link on my Facebook fan page so if you’re interested in seeing more links and discussions like this then come and like us. Thanks – Josh
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