The Three Phases of Starting Out in Photography

Jan 18th 2018 | Peter Stewart

A lighthearted look at the steps and stages newcomers to the photography world go through on their journey of discovery.

If you're thinking of getting into photography as well, you've got to have the right equipment. If you're just starting out, you can consider renting out your gear in places that offer it like Grip and electric rental Philadelphia and start your journey along the right path.

Remember, this list is not meant to be taken seriously, even though it's partially inspired by some of the things I did whilst starting out in photography. 

In The Beginning

• Get's first DSLR complete with kit lens. Honestly cannot tell the difference between a Nikon or a Canon. Buy's whichever has more megapixels or the bigger looking lens.

• Frames everything dead center in the viewfinder. 

• Shoots on 'Full Auto' mode. Can't understand why the flash keeps popping up all the time. 

• Discovers 'macro' mode. Spends the rest of the month shooting nothing but close-ups of daffodils.  

• Walks around the neighborhood taking arty pictures of signposts and mailboxes. Bonus points for including a homeless person in your frame. 

• Shoots everything from eye level whilst standing straight up, legs apart like your ready to do the splits.

• Wonders why half his/her images always come out blurry. Doesn't this thing have image stabilization?

• Purchases a cheap plastic tripod. Wonders why half his/her images always come out blurry.

Untitled photo

Sepia makes bricks look cool!

Phase One

After a while, you start playing with more ways to style your images. You discover photo editing beyond the generic Instagram filters and decide to seek out new subjects to photograph, except when it's raining! No one takes pictures in the rain. 

• Starts converting everything to sepia-toned. Because art!

• Starts applying selective color to everything. Because art!

• Vignetting and cross-processing filters. Now I can really stand out on Instagram!

• Wonders why auto-focus has chosen the background instead of the main subject in half his/her shots.

• Shoots at ISO 3200 in the noonday sun. The only time of day for taking proper pictures.

• Learns that pop-up flash won’t light up that skyscraper half a mile away when shooting hand held at night. 

• Learns that pop up flash won’t add anything to that photo you’re trying to take of an iguana behind a glass window at the zoo.

• Starts shooting landscapes….aperture set to f/2.8.

• Wipes off dust from the lens with a dirty t-shirt.

• Buys a better tripod. Still shoots wonky horizons.

Untitled photo

Selective color and vignetting really draws your attention to those apples!

Phase Two 

Now that your interest in photography has started to gather some momentum, suddenly you find yourself looking at new lenses and other ways to edit beyond using the 'auto-enhance' button on your iPhone.

• Buys a fisheye lens, because wide angle that's why!

• Buys a prime lens because the man in the shop said you can take pictures in the dark with it. 

• Discovers RAW. Wonders why everything looks rubbish and bland now on the back of the LCD.

• Discovers HDR and Photomatix, spends the next year seeking out abandoned buildings to test out newly acquired HDR skills on. 

• Discovers panoramas and stitching. Shoots every panorama in landscape orientation.

• Experiments briefly with HDR panoramas. Promptly gives up.

• Experiments with portraiture. Shoots every subject posed with their back arched to a tree or a brick wall.

Untitled photo

When you need a little extra pop. Try HDR!

Phase Three 

• Discovers the rules of composition and learns about exposure triangle.

• Cropping. Wow....thats actually useful!

• Stops using clunky mobile editors and learns to actually use Photoshop.

• Purchases an off-camera flash. 

• Discovers street photography. Shoots everything in Black & White...because that's what Cartier-Bresson would do!

• Buys a film camera. Has to actually learn to shoot properly now.

• Discovers ND and Grad Filters. Now can actually get the right look in-camera.

• Learns to shoot in manual mode. 

• Declares themselves a photographer! Puts up a Facebook page complete with horrendously oversized watermark.

Whether you're an amateur or a professional photographer, I'm sure a few of these statements will have applied to you at some point or another. It's all just part of the fun of the learning process.

Even though I look back now at my early images and cringe, It's interesting to me to see what stages I was at then with my focus being purely on the technical aspects of taking pictures, as opposed to now where camera settings have become second nature and my focus has turned to the more important aspects of subject, light, composition. 

I'm still bloody useless with flashes though!

“The only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.”

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