Not So Great Advice
A Photography Related Rant
Back in the day (well really not that long ago) when my photographic journey was in its infancy, I learned of this little known platform called “Google Plus”. It was here that I was introduced to the world of photography. I, like many others, would embark on a journey of learning and discovery. It was here that I would learn to develop some of my own personal skills and tastes in my photography. Some skills I learned directly from the platform, and some through the people and relationships I had within in it.
It was in Google Plus (or G+ as it was typically called) that I would learn some of the basics of photography, to understand some of the rules that made up composition, the genres and the techniques used to make a photograph. While much of my early work was not always a technically good photograph (oh the horrors of HDR!), it was a photograph nonetheless. Much of this platform would take me into other realms of the internet, where I would learn to dive into things like Lightroom and Photoshop. How to create a watermark, retouch a photo to remove dust spots or birds in the sky.
But on this platform specifically, I would learn about some of the individuals who I thought made up the main photographic industry. Those people who would be at the top of the photographic food chain as I understood it. The ones who, I thought, simply knew it all (oh how wrong I was!).
I mean, what did I know? I was just a newly anointed “photographer” with a camera in hand and a willingness to learn and to be led. Now in truth, I did learn quite a bit though this platform and through many of the people in it (pros, amateurs and newbies). But there were still many things that I wouldn’t consider great advice.
Taking a step back, when we are new at something, we tend to think everything is great. When we try a new dish or play a new song, we think it’s probably the greatest thing ever. In my case, I was learning to take photos using techniques that were once something completely foreign to me. Like taking an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo and thinking it was a fantastic image, something I wouldn’t dare do today. As it was, it was just something that many of us were going through as part of the learning process. But not just that, we were listening to these “masters of photography” and heeding their every word. “You need a full frame camera to be a real photographer” or “You need this strange strappy backpack thingamajig to be a real photographer”, and “This camera/camera brand is the best for you” and so forth. Sound familiar?
Now to be fair, I do take some responsibility for the gullible nature on my part (in fact I still do for many photographic things to this day). The internet was vast, so it would have been easy to research other photographers that weren’t a part on this platform and study their work. But I didn’t even know where to begin, and there were so many already on the platform, so why wander outside of what I could see. From what I could recall, there wasn't a whole lot of reference to many of the older and more established photographers of the trade, just those who were perhaps “smart enough” to jump onto the platform in order to push their agendas.
I think what bothers me the most about this platform (like a lot of others) is that in order to be something that perhaps you weren’t even ready to do, like a pro photographer, you had to do or have these things because that’s what they engrained in your head. They weren’t exactly saying you had to, but they certainly weren’t asking you to research other photographers off the platform because why would they? Now I think most of them would probably insist that they weren't trying to do that, but to be honest, as an entrepreneur, you’re in the business of selling yourself, so why wouldn’t you?
These days I’m a little wiser and a little better off than where I was, and I think back to when I was a little more naive about these things and I wonder where those people are now. Since its demise, those at the top of the photography summit from the G+ platform are largely “quiet” in my books (likely because I just don’t follow them). Many probably still frequent Instagram or Facebook (I wouldn’t know for certain since I don’t use those platforms). Those that told us that full frame was an absolute must or that “THIS LENS WILL DO EVERYTHING”, clearly didn’t know or care that many in the community could barely afford what they had. With their platform (or soap box) taken away, they return back to the level of mediocrity that they started from. Nothing more than the average photographer trying to peddle their wares like everyone else.
Nowadays, those “pro’s” (or rather the next generation of the “pro’s”) have taken to a different platform with Youtube and the effects are far more worse and widespread, but that’s another rant for another day.
Overall this may come across as a little harsh, but when I think of what people try to push onto us these days, I think it has some merit (in my opinion). Go at your own pace (and budget) and don’t get swallowed up in the rat race of having people tell you what you need to do or have, in order to do something that you love. And don’t let my words push you into believing that everyone is out to sell you something either. There are many of those who are simply trying to help others enjoy the craft that they love (just so long as you “like and subscribe” to them first).
Happy shooting whatever you like with whatever you’ve got.