Lee Sacrey Photography – Lee's Chatter

Mainly Photography but a little of everything at times

The Amateur’s Secret Weapon

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I received a message by someone saying they liked this shot. So here it is. A picture I took because Jenna, my 7 year old daughter, said “Dad, let’s go out tonight and take some pictures”. So, we went out and she got to pick all the locations. That is one of the things I like about this, my girls seem to always want to be involved.

The Amateur’s Secret Weapon

How much did you invest in Camera equipment? Let’s look quickly at some examples. You just purchased an entry level DSLR kit, maybe something like a Nikon D60 with an 18 – 55 mm kit lens, that cost around $ 600 CAD. Maybe you’re a little more advanced or just have some cash to burn. You purchased a Canon 50D with the 17 – 85 mm IS lens. Set you back about $ 1650 CAD. For those who really like toys, you purchased a Canon 5D, a Nikon D300 or heaven forbid the Sony a900 (that is a clue that I shoot with Sony and Minolta gear, in case you missed it). You just dropped around $ 3000 CAD. Now you need a bag, a tripod, some filters, a memory card and some other accessories and maybe another lens or two. So what have we determined? Well, us photography types spend some serious cash on equipment to do this thing we seem to love so much. So how much better does all this equipment make us? I am thinking not a lot. I for one have multiple Camera bodies and a half-dozen lens and the amount that equipment has changed my abilities is minimal. So what are we to do? I think I have an answer that can help.

A photo workshop should be an item we all plan to attend and budget for. I have heard several Photographers discuss that it is not the camera but the person behind it that makes the photograph. So, if that is the case, we should all be learning more about how to use our equipment and then maybe we will learn to use the things we have and we won’t need to buy the latest gear every time it is available, sorry retailers. Don’t worry though, I am a gear head so I am going to be buying something.

So there, all that being said. Why should we go to a photo workshop? Well, we can learn how our model of Camera works. Where it’s functions are located, how to better use it, how to get the most from the equipment we have and what are the best accessories we could use to do what we do even better. Maybe the workshop is at a great location to take pictures, bonus. We may even find we spend more time taking good pictures and less time trying to edit them to make them feel all warm and fuzzy. If you can get better pictures out of your camera with less time spent at a desk, aren’t you than a better photographer? Just think of the confidence level you will have after you look at those unedited files. You will want to go out and take more, which is the whole point. So, if your reading this you obviously like the photography and want to capture what you see and not be stuck in front of your computer editing.

Now, you should be asking “Where are these workshops?”. Start by checking with any camera or photography clubs and/or groups in your area. Check with local Camera stores. Check for ads in Photography magazines. Check Photographer’s websites for workshops or instructional links (some of the websites I have on my links pages will have workshops listed). So find one that is within your reach, that is on a topic you may enjoy. One about the brand and model Camera you have or are buying.

There are none in my area, I live in a remote area and the travel makes it difficult to attend, you say. Well, I don’t know any photographer, amateur or otherwise, who doesn’t know others who enjoy photography. After all, we usually befriend people with similar likes. So, plan to organize a workshop. Talk to other interested people, find a topic you would like to learn and contact some photographer’s to see if they will come to you to teach their craft. It works, I have done it. Get a budget, make some registration forms and send them out into the world around you. You may be surprised at what you discover. I know you are thinking that you can’t just ask some Pro Photographer to come to my area. Why not? What is the worse thing that would happen, they won’t or can’t come and if they are not there now, what did you really lose, a few minutes to ask a question? I am sure you will find a willing Photographer to share their knowledge. After all, they are no different from you or I, they just take better pictures (for now at least). Don’t be concerned with your experience level, even the best Professional Photographer started where we are. They weren’t born with camera in hand. They had to learn just like we do. We, however, have an advantage. That Pro Photographer you like so much is probably teaching at a workshop. Teaching the things that they have learned through trial and error. Teaching us to be better faster. Why do we not use their wealth of knowledge to our advantage?

Considering the money we spend on equipment (that may not make us better), what could a few additional dollars and a little time to learn the craft cost? I can tell you from experience the investment in a workshop may pay much better dividends than the investment, in any piece of equipment, you are currently carrying around in that Camera bag, regardless of it’s cost. Isn’t the point of all this equipment to make us better photographers in the end? Lets all help cure some of our overexposed or underexposed madness and workshop, workshop, workshop. Now get out there and attend, organize, plan or do what ever it takes to better use these tools we have. The return on this investment will be great, even if all we get is the experience of learning.

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Written by leesacrey

August 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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