I wish I could say that it I became a better photographer because of the camera I use. I’ve since discovered that it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been an ardent fan of the Lumix series of cameras from Panasonic for about three years now. Happily I gave up the beginner line of Canon Rebel series DSLRs for the mirrorless G7.
The difference in image quality was nothing I could see. The video capability of the G7 was obviously much more purposeful. It has 4K and a host of other nice features to support the video production, but I hardly use any of it.
I don’t like to shoot 4K. It is such a drag to use on the computer. The files are huge. And nobody cares if it’s 4K or HD on You Tube.
So really the difference in using the G7 versus my old t4i was negligible.
I upgraded my G7 to the G9, a camera I really love. Has my photos been vastly different? Not really.
Has the quality been markedly better? Maybe a smidgen.
Do I like the G9 better than the G7? Absolutely, in every way. The ergonomics alone is enough to make me glad for the upgrade.
But it didn’t make me a better photographer.
I took my G7 to Honduras on a mission trip and took great photos. I loved them. Friends and family loved them. Nobody outside of a pixel-peeping pro would know the photos were from a $400 camera and not a $1,500 or $3,000 camera.
Such as it is with cameras.
Cameras are expensive. I wish that I could say that upgrading from a great deal-at-the-time $400 G7 to a $1,600 G9 was a $1,200 improvement in my photography. I’d say no.
What I can say is that I enjoy the technology of the G9 far better than any camera I’ve ever used. But it alone has not made me a better photographer.
How I Became a Better Photographer
Here are a few things that I did to try to improve my photography. These tips have helped me become a better photographer over time.
I photograph 90% of the time in aperture mode and the remaining in manual.
No other setting has allowed me to fail so spectacularly and learn from the experience than shooting in these modes. I’ve missed countless shots from motion blur. I’ve screwed up depth of field more times than I can count.
But through it all I’ve learned enough to get some outstanding shots. I’ve also had way more fun with my camera.
I’ve never understood buying a camera and setting it up on P-mode until the next upgrade. It’s like buying a TV and leaving it on PBS.
Not limiting myself to only shooting outdoors during “golden hour”.
What a freaking stupid rule. Yes the light is better early in the morning and late in the day. Of course, there are certain things that will look terrible if photographed at high noon.
So what? Find something else to photograph. All that high light makes great macro shots. Take groovy photo9s of shadows. Shoot IN the shadows.
Seriously, challenge yourself to take a photo when everybody else says it’s stupid.
I guess it’s a fear of failure and the huge need to post everything on social media. Nobody wants to take a risk with their photography.
Too afraid it will look bad on the IG feed.
Who cares. Nobody is going to remember your photo 2 seconds after they look at it.
I really don’t care if your photo is less than technically perfect if it is interesting.
Rule of thirds guides every shot I do.
I think about where the image subject is positioned in every shot. Otherwise the thing is just a snapshot.
I seldom ever center a subject. I always think while I’m composing where on the grid will this image go.
If I screw up the photo then I will crop the thing until the rule of thirds is achieved.
I like frames, symmetry and leading lines.
Trying to lead the eye into the subject is a fun challenge. Unless it’s a portrait or something I usually try to challenge myself to create a leading line through the photo.
Framing a subject through a doorway, window, tree branch, whatever is fun too.
Far less successful is my attempts at symmetry photography. The obvious is water reflections but there are other ways to achieve symmetry in a photo. You must have to look for them
These are the challenges that make shooting fun.
Change the angle to get a more interesting photo.
Everything has been photographed.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
It’s probably true. What I do know is that I go out of my way to try to take a photo of things in a way that nobody would ever think of.
And it usually involves me with stained and bruise knees as I’m lying or kneeling on the ground.
Nobody will take the extra effort to get into a different position than the norm. I guess most are too lazy or they simply don’t want to look silly lying down on the middle of the sidewalk.
I don’t care. If I’m not in the way I’ll try for any angle. Low. High. Doesn’t matter. I just don’t want to come up with just another shot of whatever icon everybody else is photographing.
Things I Don’t Do to Become a Better Photographer
I’ve seen the lists on other blogs. These are the things that almost every one says to do to be a better photographer. I’m likely to wallow in my mediocrity because none interest me in the least, at this time.
Take an art class.
Um, no. Looking at drawings or painting have no interest to me. I don’t need to sit around and relax in front of some sculpture. I don’t want to learn from some pin-head the intricacies of the shapes and sizes. Just, no.
Shoot in film.
So yea, the hipsters are dragging these old things out right alongside their dads old record collection. Couldn’t be bothered to do this is you held a gun to my head. I have no desire to send my film off for processing. I have no desire to learn.
I don’t feel the need to limit myself with photos. I don’t want to budget my shots. If I feel like taking 100 shots of an eagle then I’d rather like to do so without slapping in a new (expensive) roll.
If you dig getting back an envelope of photos after a weekend of shooting then that’s cool. Personally I like the digital lightroom and the immediacy of getting results.
Study other photographers.
So, this is probably a good idea, particularly if going pro is your bag. I would rather learn techniques from pros and see what I can do. I don’t really want to sit around and take a masterclass of how some pro dude created the shot.
There are people that have the inclination to study every pixel of a photo. The light. The angle. I don’t really care.
So I don’t know if this helped any. Your gear matters not in your quest to be a better photographer.
New tech is certainly fun . But it doesn’t matter. Everything is so stinking good now. It’s all commoditized.
Just focus on those things you like that will make you a better photographer. My path will certainly not be yours.
Maybe drawing inspiration from a favorite photographer is the way to go. I’d rather check out a new COOPH video for inspiration than dissecting some pro’s classic photo.