Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Getting Started With A Photography Hobby

A photography hobby can be just the way to capture the moments in life you want to remember or to bring beauty to people who can enjoy it again and again. There are some common personality traits for even amateur photographers, and if you fit these traits, you may be a good candidate for a photography hobby.

First you must like to be alone. While you can take pictures of people, many photographers prefer to take pictures of scenery because it is less likely to be fussy. Still, even if you are going to photograph people, you have to enjoy being a wallflower. You are capturing the party; you are not the life of it.

Photographing, particularly non-human subjects, also allows for solitude. Most people who are photographers enjoy working by themselves. Photography is not a team endeavor, so while you may make friends participating in the hobby, you will not be able to spend time with them while doing it.

Photographers are patient. There are some photographers who will visit a site dozens of times to study the light. Others may wait for hours, even days, at a certain spot to capture the perfect picture. While as a beginner, you probably will not go to those lengths, you certainly will need a modicum of patience to practice your craft.

If you are considering pursuing photography, you should first start by getting a camera. The basic decision you will need to make is whether or not you want a digital camera. Many, if not most, photographers, still use film cameras because there are more options, and resolution issues are not as common. Still you should decide what will work best for you and get a low-end model to start.

After you get your camera, start by taking a few pictures. Although you may find that you have a knack for photography, it is likely that you will need some help. Look at the pictures very critically to see what you could learn to do better. Then take another shot. See if you can teach yourself. Much of beginning photography is about learning to take everything into account. For example, few people think about the effect of shadows on their pictures, but photographers must consider shadows as it will have a direct impact on the quality of the pictures.

If you go a few rounds and decide that you have improved as much as you can, then you can buy a couple of books on the subject. Get books for beginners and go through everything in them. Even if you think you understand depth of field, read through that section. Then go out (equipped with the knowledge from the manual for your camera) and play around with the settings that affect depth of field. Try some shots and see how they turn out. Notice the difference in the pictures you take to see what works and what does not. Try this exercise for several areas of photography.

When you are ready to learn more, you should consider taking a course on photography. Of course, while you are preparing yourself for the course and reading through the books, continue to take pictures. You will learn which pictures will turn out well as you move along. Try taking pictures of people, of animals, and of scenery. See what works best for you. A course on photography, which you should be able to find through a local college or the chamber of commerce, will teach you the basics of taking pictures. The benefits of these seminars are that they typically are inexpensive, and they will provide you with professional feedback. You will be able to show other people your work and see what they think. Instead of hiding your hobby, you will find that taking a course on it will help give you confidence in your craft.

Photography is a hobby that allows for constant improvement. You will be able to learn more about photography as you go along and as you invest in additional and better equipment. Keep learning because you will find that you can find a lifelong love of photography. Who knows? Soon you may have your very own darkroom and will be selling your pictures!

By Julia Mercer

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