Jean-François Cléroux | Flâneur & Lens Creative
Different Lens, Different Story!

Category: Learning

Learning to be a better shooter

We all look at newer and better cameras, and we as photographers spend a ton of money on them. Why? We want to take better photos. By buying a new camera what we are doing in essence is blaming our existing gear. Is it a gear problem?

Clearly not. Most of us turn to the masters, whether they be Street Photographers or Landscape Photographers, we all aspire and strive to be like them. Often, people will study these masters haphazardly, will learn what gear they used, and will most of the time not learn ‘how’ these photographers worked. Often, it is the ‘how’ that is most important.

“Searching For The Right Word” – Gerry Hiebert 2016

Most of today’s cameras far surpass in quality the cameras of yesteryears master. Yet, most photographers still think they need better cameras. Case in point, are those that look to Ansel Adams as their ‘master’. They love the images, they aspire to do the same, yet they are too lazy to hike their gear to the majestic scenes and too lazy to even use a tripod as Ansel Adams did. So, what do they do when their images are still not the same as the masters and a little blurry? The look for another lens or new camera.

Your camera can do it. As long as you purchased the right camera for the right job, i.e. Not an old 8×10 View Camera for candid street photography, you are probably good. Most Phone, Pocket, Rangefinders,  and DSLR digital or film cameras will do the job. All of these technologies can create amazing images. I have created award-winning images that have been published from a camera I purchased many years ago, a Canon 40D with only 10.1 megapixels.

New gear is NOT the answer. Venders and salespeople will tell you it is. Oh, shiny new objects they will put into your hands. Don’t do it. Don’t get caught in the trap.

So, if it’s not the new gear, what should you do to become a better photographer? Well, you can turn to podcasts, magazines, books, classes, workshops (DIY or Expensive varieties) but the most useful way of learning is by going out and shooting. I know photographers that purchased studio lights, read several books on lighting, took three workshops on lighting, upgraded their lights to newer shinny ones, and would not go out and work with a model because; their words, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Get out, shoot, make mistakes, learn from them. There is NO BETTER WAY to learn, than by doing. Doing, shooting, is the absolute best way to learn and get better.

”Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Books, classes, and workshops can help give you better insights and can show you different ways of doing things, and can help with some tips and tricks. Remember however those different ways are not always the best for you. These other ways may not suit your style or your personality. Or, they may. Without trying different ways, how can you know which way is best? You need to invest in these different ways. By invest I mean, time. Don’t try a new skill or technique for an hour or a day and decide it’s not for you. Some techniques, like Zone Focus shooting from the hip, need many outings to master. The rewards however are great. Many skills and techniques are like that. Spend the time, shoot lots, you will be rewarded.

I have had students that have been stuck because they were taught one way to do something and were very reluctant to try different methods or techniques. Many would rather buy new gear (yet again) than change what or how they do things.

Seriously, Podcasts, Books, Classes, and Workshops are for the most part ALL better ways of learning to create better images than getting a new camera and capturing crappy images with more pixels. Get out and shoot.

In the next few posts, I will talk about ways of Self Learning based on a class I teach and will discuss workshops. How to choose workshops, how to prepare, and how to get the most out of them.

See you on the streets.  

Eifel Tower from Trocadero Square

Eifel Tower from Trocadero Square

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