6 things I’ve learnt
As I unwrapped my new Gitzo tripod, it occurred to me that in the 3 years since I took up photography, I’ve replaced every single piece of my original kit: camera body, lenses, filter system, tripod head and tripod. So it seemed a good time to reflect on a few of the things I’ve learnt during those 3 years.
- Know thyself: I wish I’d bought pre-owned equipment until I’d worked out what suited me. It would have saved me a lot of money. Most surprising of all, it took me four attempts to find the right camera bag.
- Prime time: I’d shoot with prime lenses if I could but it’s often not practical. I’m usually travelling abroad for my photography and constrained by airline hand luggage allowance, not to mention how much gear I can actually carry (I have new-found respect for the SAS).
- Hindsight is a wonderful thing: Not only does the phrase ‘neutral density filter’ mean something to me but I can even use one. Last year, I changed from the Lee filter system to B+W screw-on filters. I should have bought 82mm, instead of 77mm, filters and the relevant step-down rings, so when I changed to a lens with an 82mm thread I didn’t have to buy a new set of filters.
- Your first 10,000 pictures are your worst. I haven’t counted how many images I’ve taken, but I think Henri Cartier Bresson was right (although he made this comment in the pre-digital age, so presumably today it would be ‘your first 100,000 pictures are your worst’). None of the images I took in the first 2 years are in my portfolio.
- Quality not quantity. I no longer expect to return from a week’s photography trip with a portfolio of 12-15 images. If I get a few good shots and one shot that I love, I’m happy. I’m also more discerning about what I publish online; once it’s out there, floating in the digital ether, it can’t be recalled.
- Rise and shine: A night-owl by nature, I’ve discovered that I can get up at 4.30am and get by on a few hours sleep… if I’m excited about going out on a shoot.
But more than anything… the most important thing about photography is not the photographs. Yes, it’s rewarding to learning a new skill and create photographs that people want to put on their walls, but ultimately it’s the experience that counts: finding ‘quiet time’, travelling to new places and trying new things, meeting people, and having fun.
So to everyone who has been part of my photographic journey, shared my adventures, the odd bottle of wine (or two), and lots of laughs along the way – THANK YOU.