STARTING OUT IN PHOTOGRAPHY
One question that I get quite often is, "I want to learn how to take good photos of my horses, what's the best way to learn photography?
This is definitely a question that I get asked a lot, not just in the Equestrian world. The number one suggestion I make to people who want to get into photography, is to not get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there in the photographic world. Yes it is an endless amount of information, and it can be confusing at first but it's well worth the time weeding out the worthy information from the incorrect information. Take the time to educate yourself and you will avoid problems and mistakes down the road.
Now as for photographing horses, I can't say that I would be the best source for providing tips on photographing them (mainly because I am rather new to it and still very much learning), but I am able to provide my top 10 tips on getting yourself into the wonderful world of photography as a whole.
1) DON'T FALL FOR HYPE AND MISCONCEPTIONS.
There are many misconceptions in the photographic industry that many tend to fall for and it's extremely important to not buy into the hype. For instance, one misconception that has always been around (and unfortunately always will be around), is that buying a really expensive camera will instantly get you better photos. The more expensive the camera, the better the photos. "I bought a new expensive camera so that means I will have better photos". False! Photos are purely the result of who is taking them and the glass that is being used on those cameras. The camera itself still matters but it's the photographer's ability to operate that camera and their creative vision that determines the final product.
For instance, I have a friend who shoots weddings professionally with an entry level camera but because he understands how photography works and uses only high end glass, one would never be able to tell that he shoots with a $500 camera when they see his finished product.
2) BE PATIENT.
Photography is definitely NOT an overnight thing to learn simply because it is a craft that one will never master in life. There is no finish line, no end point, you will constantly work to get better and that is what makes photography so great! Patience is a virtue and you will be rewarded!
3) SHOOT IN GOOD LIGHT.
When you first start out learning photography, I would suggest shooting in good light because it will make things all that much easier. Lighting isn't necessarily difficult to learn but it can be overwhelming and frustrating to beginners, so why not completely eliminate this possible issue altogether by properly lighting up your subjects? Also, because most entry-level cameras have entry-level lenses and those lenses are not the best choice for low light situations, it is not the best scenario to learn in. Set yourself up for success by having lots of light surround you.
4) LEARN HOW TO EDIT YOUR PHOTOS.
I still firmly believe that this is perhaps THE most overlooked skill that greatly determines just how good of a photographer one is - their ability to edit their photos from the camera in post. A photographer's skill level in editing photos is just as important as their skill level in actually taking the photo itself. Many people believe that when you take a photo that, that is the finished product but rather it's the base product for the photographer to work from.
Let's face it, photos from the camera are ugly, it's in post where the magic happens. A photographer who has incredible skill in working images in post can really take their market by storm and their products to a whole new level. I've seen it time and time again but it differentiates amazing photographers from just good ones.This will always be their secret!
5) INVEST IN THE GLASS, NOT THE CAMERA.
Start by purchasing an entry level camera body and stick good glass on it, and I mean REALLY good glass. I can't emphasize this enough. The #1 mistake that people make when starting out is buying a really expensive high end camera that is too advanced for them and using the lens(es) that come with it (aka kit lenses). For one, entry level camera bodies will have a more friendly learning curve when learning how to use it and when you feel that you have mastered using it, you can always upgrade to a higher end model. And two, it doesn't matter how great your camera body is, if you stick sub-par glass on it, you will never get near the maximum performance out of your camera. It's lenses that give you the versatility when learning, not camera bodies.
For example: Purchasing a $500 camera body with a $1000 lens is a far smarter purchase than a $1300 camera body and a $200 lens. Set yourself up with the right gear for your needs and it will pay huge rewards in the future.
6) TAKE BABY STEPS. IT'S A MARATHON, NOT A RACE.
If you google "How to learn photography" you will see the hordes and hordes of information out there and for free! I will admit, when I first started out, I found it incredibly overwhelming, but speaking from experience remember that there is no immediate rush in learning this and that. Take baby steps. Learn the basics. Learn one thing then when you are comfortable with that, move onto the next. Then go back and refine your knowledge.
7) BUY THE GEAR THAT SUITS YOUR NEEDS, NOT THE GEAR THAT EVERYONE IS GOING CRAZY FOR.
Every photographer has different tastes and every photographer has different needs. As a professional, you can never have too much gear but only buy gear that you need. Always buy the gear that is truly the most desperately needed in your system, not just that sexy new bit of gear that everyone is running to the stores for.
8) SHOOT WITH ONE LENS.
I used to tutor individual photography workshops. Students would often show up with far too much equipment. New cameras, lenses, tripods, you name it. The first half of their workshop was spent attempting to navigate around and beyond all of their equipment. Too much time was spent staring at screens and not at what was actually happening around them.
Starting with one lens starts you on the path to becoming a master of that one lens. Then grow and build from there by learning another lens. But in the meantime, don't overwhelm yourself with too much gear.
9) PRACTICE AND EXPERIMENT.
Practice makes perfect. Practice allows you to refine your skills and apply your knowledge in the real world, in real time. Experiment with an open mind and see what works and what doesn't.
10) LEARN FROM OTHERS.
Just like learning about horses, watching and learning from others is an incredibly valuable method to further enhance your knowledge. You will see and learn things that you won't get from reading books and watching video tutorials. Observe how others hold their camera, how they stabilize themselves when taking photos. Pay attention and pick up on the little details here and there because they most definitely matter!