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08-18-2019, 03:36 PM - 17 Likes   #1
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How to be a Happy Photographer

Amongst the quandary of frequent equipment releases, the paradox of format and brand choices, and the complexity of modern cameras, we photographers strive to make good pictures. Above all, we desire to be happy -- and creative -- in our craft, whether we are new hobbyists or seasoned professionals.

Apart from pondering and accumulating equipment, photography "is about the art, application and practice of creating durable images by recording light..."*


So, how do we find happiness in the art, application, and practice of photography?

How do we maintain a perspective that encourages us to return to the shutter button time and again?

What habits do we follow that lead to enjoyment?


Here are a few things that I think can foster 'happy photography':

  • Be more concerned with place, light, and composition, and less about gear.
  • Know our equipment, and make the best use of what we have at the moment.
  • Make an effort to shoot often.
  • Look for subjects that match our interests, and be passionate about them.
  • Be critical of our images, but not too critical that we fail to notice the good ones. Consider positive criticism from others, and acknowledge compliments.
  • Accept that not every photograph will be worth keeping.
  • Improve our skills through sharing, learning and practice.
  • Show our pictures to others.
  • Print some of our best works.
  • Travel lightly with camera gear.

Are you a happy photographer? What are your tips?
If you're a professional, what brings you enjoyment while running your business?


* Photography - Wikipedia

- Craig


EDIT No. 1

Thanks to everybody who contributed thoughts to this subject. I've attempted to gather your 'tips' into this first post, for ready reference. For consistency and flow, I've taken the liberty of making some editorial changes and generalizing in parts, hopefully without changing the intent and spirit of your ideas. If I've mangled your stuff or missed your point, please let me know by PM.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the Members of Pentax Forums

Habits of the Happy Pentaxian Photographer


Equipment and Photography

Although acquiring and accumulating equipment is not photography per se, gear is, of course, essential to the photographic process. Hence, here are some thoughts on how the photographer can be served well by their equipment.

- A new camera or lens can give excitement and encouragement to get out to take pictures, especially if one has had a dry spell.

- Settle on kit before you buy; once it's bought, quit shopping.

- Become familiar with all key aspects of your camera's operation - metering; autofocus (AF) modes, areas, and points; bracketing; timers; and any special features.

- Learn how autofocus works, and understand what makes a good target for the AF system (pointing at just any old thing isn't sufficient, and is the cause of much unnecessary frustration for some).

- Take good care of your equipment - clean it properly, carry it securely, and store it well. Use it but try not to abuse it, and don't worry if it picks up a few scars along the way.

- Where equipment failure, damage and loss is concerned, roll with the punches -- it's just stuff. Try to not let it get you down, frustrated or angry; it's just not worth it.

- Cameras with missing functionality can still bring enjoyment. A broken light meter, for example, can be replaced by a smartphone app or basic exposure rules, while working at a fixed shutter speed or aperture doesn't defeat the creative photographer.

- Do not allow you or your photography to be defined or limited by your equipment. While exploiting the strengths of your gear, resolve to overcome any limitations with learned techniques. Better kit will not make a better photographer.


Enjoying the Photographic Process

- Take joy in the process of capturing an image -- sometimes it's more rewarding than the image itself.

- Planning and preparing carefully for a photo outing can help to get the maximum enjoyment from being in a wonderful location, whether it's a park or preserve, a zoo, or just out in the country somewhere.

- Some photographers will shoot for a month with nothing more than a simple camera, perhaps a Spotmatic with Takumar lenses, or a later model film camera. The experience may yield nothing but pure photographic joy, not having to worry about anything but how to shoot a scene in the intended manner.

- Compared to digital exposures, shooting with relatively expensive film can instill a special discipline that brings rewards and satisfaction.

- Sometimes loading a film feels like the start of a ceremony; snapping the back shut feels like the starting gun for a new adventure.

- Take part in a "single-in challenge" here at Pentax Forums. Using the same lens exclusively to make pictures every day can help a photographer learn the use of their equipment and stimulate the photographic eye.

- Photography may be used as a simple reason to go for a pleasant walk or hike, to visit a different location, or as a means to chill out a bit.

- Take joy in the photographic journey, not just the destination. If the goal of a trip is to count how many keeper images you achieve, it can steal the joy away from the whole experience.

- Focus on the people you are with and the relationships that you are developing, see the beauty in the world around, and stop for a moment and use all of your senses to take in the smells and the sounds of the place where you are. Those are the sorts of things that can't be captured with a camera, but they will stick with you long after you are back from your photographic excursion.

- If you have kids or grandkids, taking them on excursions lets you see the world through younger eyes and gives you models to capture doing things you wouldn't dream of doing otherwise.

- Have a purpose - think about each shot before you take it. Consider the story or message, lighting, composition, your creative intent and how you will achieve it.

- Use the start of a photo outing or session to practice 'warm up' exercises. A few bad pictures might be made before getting into the creative zone and taking good ones. Fortunately with digital, the bad shots cost nothing.

- Know when to leave your equipment at home, because some experiences are better when you're simply enjoying the moment and not worrying about your gear or deeply engaged in photography.


Foundations of Photography

Learning the foundations can help a photographer to prevent or overcome frustration and disappointment.

- The photographer should make an effort to study and learn:
  • The different types of light, and how to use them
  • Exposure and the relationship between sensitivity, aperture and shutter speed
  • Depth of field, its implications and uses
  • Basic compositional techniques
  • How to hold the camera and lens correctly
  • Shooting in (M)anual mode (You don't have to use it all the time, but it gives ultimate control and helps reinforce understanding of the exposure triangle)
  • Shooting in Av, Tv, TAv and P modes, and when to use them. However, try not to depend on them solely, such that you're unable to switch to M and fully control the camera when needed.

- The photographer may develop their skills and satisfaction more quickly by concentrating on a photographic genre, such as portaiture, wildlife, macro, or whatever.

- Review all your photos and learn from them: Every photo, good or bad, is an opportunity to analyse and discover what you did right or wrong; no photo is wasted.

- To gain the most from one's digital images, shoot in RAW image format, or JPEG + RAW; sooner or later, you'll be glad you did. Learn to use at least the basic features of a RAW development tool such as PDCU, Lightroom, Darktable, or RawTherapee, amongst others.


Last edited by c.a.m; 08-19-2019 at 06:50 PM. Reason: Compile contributors' tips
08-18-2019, 03:44 PM   #2
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Well said Craig!
08-18-2019, 03:47 PM - 3 Likes   #3
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Good post Craig.

A lot of it can be summarised as:-

“Stop worrying about gear and take more photos”!
08-18-2019, 03:54 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Agree with everything you say Craig.

Collecting kit can be fun, and indeed a new camera or lens can give an encouragement to get out taking pictures especially if one has a dry spell.

But save us from the obsessives at other forums (you know which I mean) who know how many AF points their camera has but wouldn't know a high key image if it hit them in the face. After giving advice recently I was told that the Pentax KP and 77mm Ltd was a poor choice for kid portrait photography.

08-18-2019, 05:24 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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I have nothing to add, Craig, and intensely agree regarding point #1 with perhaps one corollary point, that being:
  • Corollaries:
    • Settle on kit before you buy and once it's bought, quit shopping.


Steve
08-18-2019, 05:33 PM   #6
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Well said!
08-18-2019, 06:37 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Well said! I agree with everything you said. I will add for me, as an amateur who loves nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. I enjoy the actual process of capturing an image, perhaps more so than the image itself. I use the hobby as tool that forces me to plan and prepare properly so I can get the maximum enjoyment out of being in a wonderful location, whether it's a national, city, or state park or preserve, a zoo, or just out in the country somewhere. Of course though, I want to capture the best possible images I can and for others to enjoy them.
08-18-2019, 07:10 PM - 2 Likes   #8
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I spent a month shooting nothing but my spotmatic and m42 lenses. It was nothing but pure photographic joy, not having to worry about anything but how to shoot a scene the way I want to.




---------- Post added 08-18-19 at 10:11 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
After giving advice recently I was told that the Pentax KP and 77mm Ltd was a poor choice for kid portrait photography.
I don't know whether to laugh or be sad.

08-18-2019, 07:29 PM - 2 Likes   #9
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I agree with what you say, for me the single in challenge here on Pentaxforums has made me take at least a picture a day, learn the uses of my current equipment and stimulated my photo eye, just this morning I saw the most magnificent rainbow which I captured with the Pentax Q and adapted 28-105 lens, I would have missed it before the photo a day challenge, now I just want to get home from work to post it.

A photo a day keeps the sadness away.
08-19-2019, 01:29 AM - 2 Likes   #10
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Like many I live a busy life simply to exist. I use photography as a way to justify going for a walk, going somewhere different or a means to chill out a bit. Sometimes loading a film feels like the start of a ceremony, snapping the back shut feels like the starting gun for a new adventure.

I normally always come across something strange (not that I always manage to capture it), often fleeting moments I'd have missed if I hadn't gone for a walk with my camera.

This is turning out to be a very interesting thread.
08-19-2019, 02:43 AM   #11
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A month ago I bought a used ME that happened to have a broken light meter. Since I had already loaded a roll, I said "why not" and decided to shoot it before I returned the camera...

I had to use a phone app as light meter, and work in Shutter priority at 1/100. I had *so* much fun with the M50/1.7. Having 36 shots that cost almost 8€ between roll, development and printing forces you to make them count!
08-19-2019, 02:57 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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To me, one of the most important things is to have joy in the journey, not just the destination. If the goal of a trip is to count how many keeper images you got at the end of it, it can steal the joy away from the whole experience. Focus on the people you are with and the relationships that you are developing, see the beauty in the world around, and stop for a moment and use all of your senses to take in the smells and the sounds of the place where you are. Those are the sorts of things you can't capture with a camera, but they will stick with you long after you are back from your photographic excursion.

I agree too about the community aspect of photography. Taking photos and then never sharing them with others doesn't seem adequate. Even if it is just a few on Instagram, Facebook, or here on the Pentax Forums, let others see where you've been. My experience has never been negative -- if anything people are overly complimentary of average work. More than anything though, community tends to encourage me to keep shooting when I don't always feel excited about it.

Skill is a tough thing, but I do think that is worthwhile to try to develop it. Looking at my photos and figuring out where things went wrong (or right) is helpful for the future.

Maybe lastly, have kids or grandkids. Going on excursions with them lets you see the world through younger eyes and gives you models to capture doing things you wouldn't dream of doing otherwise.

That's my five and a half cents...
08-19-2019, 03:10 AM   #13
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If I am unhappy about photography, it's only at my inadequate level of skill in creating certain images. Fortunately, I still have time to improve.
08-19-2019, 03:35 AM   #14
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Another way to be a happy photographer is to: “shoot people and sometimes cut off their heads”...at least that’s what the t-shirt says: I Shoot People and Sometimes Cut Off Their Heads Photographer Unisex T Shirt: Amazon.ca: Clothing & Accessories
08-19-2019, 03:38 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by c.a.m Quote
Print some of our best works.
That's one of the most rewarding things to do.
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