The internet is full of articles on photography, from what camera to buy, to how to take better holiday snaps. But I must admit, trying to find the right video, article, forum or PDF floating in the atmosphere somewhere can be very "hit and miss", not to mention downright frustrating. Whenever I want to learn something technical or new, like for instance anything to do with my MacBook Pro or any IT issues I tend to look for someone who I believe in and then I stick to their viewpoints on the subject. The person I am always looking for is a person that is in the industry and is very experienced. Not some kid "YouTuber" who is trying to get a lot of likes and subscriptions working out of their bedroom.
I am not here to tell you what camera to buy or how to improve your holiday snaps either. No, I am here to take your photography quantum. Not just quantum but fast. 'Mastering Photography' was born about by clients that kept asking me for tips on how to improve their picture taking without all the fuss and confusion.
So over the next ten weeks, I am going to give you ten photographic tips that are going to fast track your photography and also give you greater confidence when it comes to handling your camera and its controls.
Go back to your retailer! Yes, that's right if you purchased your camera from a retailer, then this is by far the best way of learning your menu and function settings fast. I would suggest that you work out all of the different settings that you want to know and then from there make a list. Go back to your retailer with your camera and make a beeline for the salesperson that sold you the equipment. Now, once you have made eye contact with the sale-person, smile and keep walking towards them. Shake hands, introduce yourself and then when he or she greets you let them know that you want to learn about your menu and function settings on your camera. Are they going to help you with open arms or not? Of course, they are, why? Firstly because they are obligated to assist you with your inquiries or questions because that's their business. But secondly and maybe more importantly, what they will be edging for is another sale of some description even if it only happens to be a couple of filters. They will want to help you because they can lead you down several paths to making another sale. It could be another couple flashcards or could be a camera lens for that matter. At this stage of the game they have got so much opportunity and so for that reason, why wouldn't they want to help you? It also gives them the chance of having a little bit of significance in your eyes because they know a lot more about that camera than you do. They know everything about the camera because that's their job, they have studied the ins and outs when it comes to that particular brand and model.
As each day, week and month pass, retail shopping as we know it is becoming extinct. The online presence of shopping is going gang-busters. There are a lot of reasons for that, but probably the two primary goals are.
A perfect example of that is Amazon. The biggest retailer in the world and yet, don't own one retail store. But when it comes to camera equipment, you are buying a very sophisticated piece of computer hardware and software. Understanding your camera, firstly the basics of the operating system along with then the more advanced settings are essential. Your camera is not unlike your computer. It doesn't matter whether you use Understanding windows or Apple OS X. Whichever operating system you prefer, you still need to learn the basics and then all of the settings that you would typically use daily. That is why I advocate that the best way of actually buying a camera is through retail because you have after sales support back up and after sales service.
Now, you didn't get this from me but, maybe the smart thing to do is jump online, do your research and then go to your retailer and suggest to them that this is the camera that you're looking for. They pull out the camera, and in front of you they show all of the features and benefits and then you say, "I'll buy it". Then, smartly you add that you can get it online for $$Amount dollars, which should be significantly cheaper. Now after the salesperson has spent all that time with you, they are going to want the sale even more. Another reason is that retailers are competing with online shopping.
With technology being in our pocket and around us all the time, most people, when they need to understand or know something, will choose technology. I have given many seminars, workshops and masterclasses and when I ask the question to the audience, "What is the best way to find the answer to your question when it comes to your camera settings?" The answer invariably is,' I google it, or I jump on YouTube'. And that is the world we live in right now. You ask Siri or Alexa what's the temperature in your particular town right now, Or what time is it in New York? What is the weather forecast for Melbourne this week?
However, as good as technology is, there is a downside to heading down this track. Let's look at YouTube first. With the planets spinning so fast, everyone would prefer to look at a quick video then read the answers to a question in the text on a web page. The only trouble with YouTube, (even though it is the second largest search engine) is the content is still limited when it comes to searching for something specific that you need to know right now. Example in point when would 'reciprocity failure' come into play when I am shooting a late night wedding outdoors?
Now I know that sounds reasonably technical and I'm just giving you an example. Over the years, I've looked for hundreds of answers on YouTube to do with photography, personal development, wealth creation, etc. And more than half the time what I am looking for isn't on YouTube. So after spending 10 or 20 minutes already online, I then have to try Google.
Now what you need to understand is I have to go looking and reading every line on every blog or website to find the answer to what I'm looking for. I think you are starting to get my gist. We are still 20 years away from having the ultimate brain as a computer that you can ask a question, and it has the answer every time, like Jarvis out of Iron Man.
In my workshops and masterclass closed sessions, a couple of other ideas have come up, like ask a friend that has more knowledge than you or ask someone in a camera club. Let's think about this for a moment. The friend that you want to talk to isn't available because they are either working and not picking up, or they are on holidays overseas, or there might be a bunch of other reasons why you can't contact them. Now for the camera club. Often, you don't have their mobile number and so what you need to do is email them. Now even though email is much faster than snail mail, it could be ages before you get an answer back. And then half the time they won't have the exact answer because they don't have your camera or the model of your camera for that matter.
So, I believe and support the idea of going back to the retailer. Go back to the salesperson that sold you that camera. Remember they are professionals, in terms of knowing your camera inside out and upside down. That is their job. As a chef knows how to make an impressive soufflé, your camera retailer salesperson knows how to adjust the finer settings and menu functions with your camera.
Good luck with your photographic endeavours and journey. I wish you well.
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Darren Tilnak (MPhotog P.I.P.P) (Mastering Photography)
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