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05-08-2018, 08:11 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Trying to get back into photography...

Hi everyone,

I have taken a break from photography for the last year, after pursuing it as a hobby for a few years.

I think the reason was because I kind of had an identity crisis about my photography. I had a hard time answering the question of why I was doing it. There are so many better photographers out there. They are more skilled, as well as better equipped, and all the places and things I would want to photograph have all been visited and photographed by these people before.

And yet, I still feel the urge to take my camera out and use it. I just don't know how to justify it though Also, I have always wanted to achieve the stunning results of people I see here and other places but I have always struggled to do so, despite studying, practice, etc. Sometimes I feel like I have to buy gear I can't afford and that is another reason I have put my camera away... I have a K-50 and some basic lenses and I just feel like it is a huge struggle to try and get good results with entry-level equipment. I know the K-50 is a good camera, but I often fall into the trap of thinking better equipment will somehow solve my issues. I find myself thinking that spending tons of money on a better lens will make my pictures stop being soft, or getting a higher resolution sensor will make my pictures sharper. Here is the thing - there is some truth to that - but I can't really go out and buy a new camera at the moment so I am left with the frustration of pictures that just never turn out well. The right thing to do is to just make do with what I have, I know, but how do I get into a better mindset about it?

Has anyone else been here? How do you get past this? I appreciate your responses.

EDIT:

Thank you all so much for your replies. I am moved by your passion and heartfelt advice. I really love this online community - there is something special here. Okay that was really sappy but I can't help it. I am going to get my camera and take my dog to the park right now and start doing the daily in thing. I think I can start doing this again with a healthier mindset, simply because I enjoy it. Thank you all for the encouragement.


Last edited by Zephos; 05-08-2018 at 04:43 PM.
05-08-2018, 08:19 AM   #2
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I have a K-1 and a K-3, but my wife still shoots with her K-5, and many of the prints we sold in the past were taken with a K-5. Her favourite lenses are her Tamron 17-50 and her Tamron 90 macro. She's never found a reason to switch. To my mind that level of camera like a K-50 is the optimum resource for general photgrpahy. I like my K-3 for macro and telephoto and for just walking around, and my K-1 for landscape, but my wife does just fine with her K-5 for both.

My advice would be, if you aren't getting the images you want, you need to focus on why you aren't. Get a better camera when you are getting better pictures.

Last edited by normhead; 05-08-2018 at 08:30 AM.
05-08-2018, 08:21 AM   #3
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Instead of worrying about your camera, try to see things that you would want to photograph. Try things for different angles, like Macro or Telephoto of different subjects.

For every really good picture you take, you might have 10, or 100 other that aren't so great.

An interesting exercise might be to just take snapshots throughout a day, then go back, and see if you could duplicate some of them with a better composition.

Taking a break isn't a bad thing, either.
05-08-2018, 08:56 AM - 2 Likes   #4
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Forget whether your photos are better or worse than the next guy's. There is always a next guy who will be better.

This is a hobby. It is an activity for you to enjoy. If there was no other guy would you enjoy doing it? If so, keep clicking'. If not, buy a boat.

Do you like your photos? If not, what do you need to do to create photos you like?

Also, what parts of the hobby do you like best – getting out there; setting up the shots; birds; flowers; macro; post-processing; etc. There are so many aspects to this hobby I suspect there is one area where you already shine. Maybe you can make that a focus.

I went through some of this the other year when house-bound by medical issues. I found macro, and it adde a whole new dimension to my photography.

05-08-2018, 08:59 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by timw4mail Quote
Taking a break isn't a bad thing, either.
Sometimes one takes a break and sometimes the break just happens. Yesterday, I looked at my Flickr stream and noticed that I had only shared there 24 times in the last 12 months and nothing since January. I sort of put it up to a creative dry spell that has been particularly resistant to dispersing despite several gear additions. (New gear often gets the creative juices running.)

I am patient...


Steve
05-08-2018, 09:24 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
...I still feel the urge to take my camera out and use it. I just don't know how to justify it though.
Why do you need any more justification beyond, "Because I enjoy it"? I went through a period similar to what you're dealing with now although my pathway there was different. I'd had some success selling my photos and, over time, that changed the way I was shooting. I started shooting what I thought would please other people and stopped shooting things I liked. Before long, I was very frustrated and would question myself whenever I'd go out to shoot. I ended up with pictures that neither my editors nor I liked. I finally figured out that the reason my pics weren't connecting was because I'd lost the most important ingredient....me. So I simply went back to shooting things that I liked and gave no thought to whether they'd been done before, whether they'd sell, or whether anyone else would like them. My suggestion to you would be to stop comparing yourself to others. Or if you do, do it in a more constructive way. Take a photo you admire that was taken by someone else and try to figure out why it works. Is it the composition? The color? The light? How they isolated the background? Or is it all of the above? Then try to incorporate the things you learn into photos of your own. Also, loosen up! Sometimes I take pictures just to get them out of my system. Things like...how the morning light hits my toothbrush when it's lying near the sink ...or maybe it's the patterns thrown on the wall by our blinds. Lately it's been the muddy smears our dog leaves on our glass patio door when she paws the door wanting in. When the morning sun backlights them, it kinda looks like abstract paintings. Most likely I'll never use any of those pics, but the important thing, I believe, is to follow my curiosity so I'll be in the habit of doing that when my subjects are more than a toothbrush or muddy paw prints.

P.S. You should forget about trying to cure the itch to buy new gear. That's pretty permanent. LOL
05-08-2018, 09:51 AM   #7
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When I get into photography doldrums, a few hours of focused photography helps break me out of it. My options include a walk around the city doing street photography, visit a new neighborhood to see architecture, if time allows take a roadtrip somewhere new for landscape photography, or revisit a favorite place to photograph it again.

QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
I had a hard time answering the question of why I was doing it. There are so many better photographers out there. They are more skilled, as well as better equipped, and all the places and things I would want to photograph have all been visited and photographed by these people before.
Do it because you enjoy it and because you can learn more. I have no expectation of ever being the best in the world at anything. In a world of 8 billion people it's all been done before. I can enjoy hiking even though others have covered the entire Appalachian trail and climbed Everest.

QuoteQuote:
I often fall into the trap of thinking better equipment will somehow solve my issues
What specific issues are you having? What types of photography do you enjoy doing? What lenses do you have? Landscapes and portraits can be very forgiving in terms of equipment. Birding and night photography are more demanding.
05-08-2018, 10:13 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Somebody asked Louis Armstrong why he kept at it after being at the top of his profession. He replied that there were notes he hadn't played yet. My "philosophy" is do you have the fire (and believe me you get to certain age that fire might not be easily felt) and then identify what the fire is. What images do you see that need to be recorded? It all follows that, equipment, technique (shooting and processing), going to the shot or bringing to you. We traveled the last five years with a travel trailer mostly in the western US and I got some good shots with my Canon S3 but also developed a frustration in not getting the photos of the "vistas." So now I can try to capture what I saw with a K-70. It may not work but it is worth the hunt.

05-08-2018, 11:17 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
I had a hard time answering the question of why I was doing it. There are so many better photographers out there. They are more skilled, as well as better equipped, and all the places and things I would want to photograph have all been visited and photographed by these people before.

And yet, I still feel the urge to take my camera out and use it. I just don't know how to justify it
The right thing to do is to just make do with what I have, I know, but how do I get into a better mindset about it?

Has anyone else been here? How do you get past this?
In the arts, like photography, motivation should come from the heart and not the head. We photograph, not because we want to, but because we have to.

There is no point in comparing yourself to anyone. Every team in every sport's goal is to win THE final game of that season and be the champ. All the others will fail, but really it's not about the trophy; it's about being out there playing.

I just spent 3 entire days with 19 other photographers shooting on Maui. I am the lead photography teacher, but it does me no good to worry that a 14 year old, or another art teacher may take on average, better shots than me. My goal was to produce one indelible image per day. If I end up with 3-5 shot (that I love) each year, I consider it a great year.

I collect shared photos from all the photographers from our three days on Maui and edit a photo book. One of my students said "all my shots are bad". I told her I wasn't judging....please send me your worst photos. I wasn't being ironic, because I suspect her worst shots still show a special vision of her experience.

I have seasons with no fruit, and others with slim pickings. But I love the pursuit and the possibilities and the growth enough to not quit.

As far as equipment: For me, less is more. My son has produced great shots with his K50 and 18-55mm kit zoom. "Great shots" as in gallery quality? No. But they are HIS shots, with HIS memories of something that HE made. That has a lot more value than anything that has a price tag or x-number of Likes on Instagram.

When I get into a mindset where I start hungering for more and better gear, I'll take one or two prime lenses with me and forget the rest. Don't defeat yourself by overthinking. Be in the zone of the present with what you got and where you're at. Get your mind out of the past and the future, and remove your watch, phone, or anything that is going to distract you from being in the moment.

One thing I encourage you to do on this forum is to share a few of your shots. You'll get a ton of advice of what you might do differently for that shot. Often, it's just a matter of cropping and good post processing!
05-08-2018, 11:25 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
... I find myself thinking that spending tons of money on a better lens will make my pictures stop being soft, or getting a higher resolution sensor will make my pictures sharper....
No, it won't. You'll just get more expensive blurry photos and more megapixels of soft pictures. Think about how you take your photos, how you hold the camera, how you choose a focus point. If, like me, you can't hold the camera steady enough for the photos you take, have you tried a monopod when walking around, or a tripod if you have time to spare on landscapes. Both made a substantial difference to the number of keepers I get.

By the way, other photographers spending a shedload to upgrade to the latest extra-high resolution cameras find they have to be extra particular with their technique, because 50 megapixels show up camera shake or focussing bloopers really clearly.

The whole of the world hasn't been photographed in all possible conditions yet, not by a long shot, although a few locations do suffer over much from me-too on social media. There's a particular view in the Lofoten Islands that everyone takes, because you have to stand on the flyover and stick your lens through the railings to get it: get in line people, form an orderly queue, you'll get your turn in an hour or so... but avoid the complete favourites and you can find lots to photograph without repeating everyone else's shot. Did you know there are thousands of acres of Yosemite that get hardly anyone each day? That Patagonia is a pretty big place? That Cape Cod/Grand Canyon/Paris/Rome/Iceland/your local park are really quiet at 5am and look different in off season?

Last edited by StiffLegged; 05-08-2018 at 12:48 PM.
05-08-2018, 11:26 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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If fishermen stopped fishing because someone else had already caught a bigger/better fish, we'd all go hungry.

Sometimes photos, like fish, are for personal consumption or just sharing with friends and family. They don't have to be the best fish in the entire world.

But if you do aspire to capture the best fish or photos, then that's going to take study, practice, analysis, and the right equipment. Fortunately, these days almost every camera on the market is the right equipment for most photos. It's only if you insist on pursuing certain photographic niches (e.g., birds), that more expensive equipment makes a difference. A K-50 is perfectly suited to getting great shots for landscape, portraits, street, architecture, macro, etc. etc.
05-08-2018, 12:27 PM   #12
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Inspiration for creativity comes and goes. I struggle with it, as does everyone artistic/creative that I know. Photography is first and foremost about seeing. Gear and location have less to do with good photography than you would think.
Some of my favorite recent photos were made using Soviet built cameras and lenses from the 50s. A friend of mine, who is very well regarded for his work, uses a Nikon D3000 and kit zoom. I have seen phenomenal photos made using a Holga.
Many of my favorite photos come from within 2-3 miles of my house.
It isn't uncommon to feel totally uninspired to take photos, and while buying a new piece of gear will often give you a little boost, getting more and better gear isn't really a solution.
I usually find that looking at photographers work that I admire helps me see a little differently, and find a little inspiration.
05-08-2018, 12:46 PM   #13
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I shoot because I like to. Absolutely there are better photographers out there, some, ok a lot of them, have better gear and deeper pockets than I do, but I don't care. I still do it because I enjoy it. I like to see how I have grown as a photographer and the better I get the more I want to get even better. Most importantly I don't need to justify why I do it beyond I do it because I enjoy it. We spend so much of our time pleasing others, why not do something that pleases ourselves?
05-08-2018, 02:11 PM   #14
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i think this wont sound too professional, not at all. a rather large contrast, id say

stop.

distill the thought of photography from your mind as much as you can.
stop the "i must take nice photographs to demonstrate my skill" thought.

do something else that you know you like. name three book themes you know you like and start hunting books for those. start to dive into music, to get lost in it (although not too much, think of an early scuba diver).

learn from yourself.

learning a new language or discipline is also useful. alternatively, working (manual work, particularly) could help, in some persons it helps to calm down, to even a current. sort of what an electric capacitor would do.

when you have felt you learnt enough, start again with the basics. ie, a phone. then just, do your thing, while you are focused on you and only you.
05-08-2018, 02:39 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zephos Quote
Hi everyone,

I have taken a break from photography for the last year, after pursuing it as a hobby for a few years.

I think the reason was because I kind of had an identity crisis about my photography. I had a hard time answering the question of why I was doing it. There are so many better photographers out there. They are more skilled, as well as better equipped, and all the places and things I would want to photograph have all been visited and photographed by these people before.

And yet, I still feel the urge to take my camera out and use it. I just don't know how to justify it though Also, I have always wanted to achieve the stunning results of people I see here and other places but I have always struggled to do so, despite studying, practice, etc. Sometimes I feel like I have to buy gear I can't afford and that is another reason I have put my camera away... I have a K-50 and some basic lenses and I just feel like it is a huge struggle to try and get good results with entry-level equipment. I know the K-50 is a good camera, but I often fall into the trap of thinking better equipment will somehow solve my issues. I find myself thinking that spending tons of money on a better lens will make my pictures stop being soft, or getting a higher resolution sensor will make my pictures sharper. Here is the thing - there is some truth to that - but I can't really go out and buy a new camera at the moment so I am left with the frustration of pictures that just never turn out well. The right thing to do is to just make do with what I have, I know, but how do I get into a better mindset about it?

Has anyone else been here? How do you get past this? I appreciate your responses.
My advice.
1) Read this:Nikon's 'Worst' and 'Best' Zoom Lenses Compared
Your gear will not make you a good photographer - but it can limit what you can shoot. Don't push your gear beyond what it can do and find a way to leverage what you have before investing more money.
2) AF on the K-50 can be hit or miss at times - so if you find that's an issue - use LiveView and focus peaking some to see if you can overcome that. I also suggest center focus point and recompose and perhaps back button focusing (I don't care for it but I see how it could be useful to many).
3) I suggest making sure your exposures are what you want - ISO at a level that you are happy with, shutter speed fast enough, f stop within your desired range - but you likely already understand that.
4) And become a member of either Daily In or Single In groups and post a picture a day for others to give you feedback on. (Do as I do not as I say, I've been lax after a couple of years of participation)
5) If gear is an issue then start by picking up some known inexpensive strong performers like the DA 35 f/2.4 and the DA 50mm f/1.8. These are cheap and have exceptional sharpness and contrast and while they may not be the FA 31 Limited and the DFA 50 f/1.4 - they are not bad at all. Don't fall victim to thinking you have to have better gear - the vast majority of the photo comes from composition and the eye of the photographer.
6) If you can't put what you want on the image document what you are doing and ask for feedback on how to improve.

---------- Post added 05-08-18 at 05:44 PM ----------

My dad is a technically good photographer. But he himself will tell you he is guilty of equipment worship. He gets too concerned with the process and forgets the art. He was a camera salesman and understands creating desire for better gear but he struggles with the artist part. He is also his own worst critic - some of his shots are fantastic but he laments the failures. As a non- pro I don't mind failures - they help me learn. I want the rate to go down over time - but I don't sweat it. Digital has such a low incremental cost that I can make a lot of failures without losing a lot.
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