SoYou Think You're a Photographer?

 I've been around for a little while. I've worked in the photography industry off and on for close to 20 years. Since digital took over there has been a growing sense in the photography community that "true" professional photography has been eroded away. This erosion caused by the new ease of use of digital equipment.

With digital tech you are able to see your results immediately. The learning curve shortened and people are able to create images, for purchase, that are acceptable to the general public, with very little time in the saddle. With film you had a process that took days and sometimes weeks to produce professional looking images. The expense was 100 times what it is today. Most professional photographers were shooting film until around 2005. It is only in the last 10 years that digital has taken over. It used to be a specialized field that involved the use of chemistry in darkrooms.  Figuring out lighting was a long and slow process.  No camera back to look at to see results.  Polaroids were the only option for immediate feedback and we all know what a polaroid looks like.  It took years to master photography.  Because of this photographers were able to charge larger sums for images.  Photographers weren't a dime a dozen.   Imagine how you would feel if you had taken years to master your craft and someone out there, with six months of experience, is your competition.  Some will say that if you were an amazing photographer you wouldn't have any trouble keeping clients in this situation, I disagree.  The problem is that when someone can get similar results, even if it is lower quality, they will go with the cheaper option.  Ask the former employees of Sports Illustrated or the Chicago Sun Times.  So when someone starts talking about the "everyone is a photographer" topic I understand where they are coming from. Just look on Instagram or 500px and you will see 1000's of amazing photos from 1000's of amazing photographers. Before the interweb and digital these people would have fallen to obscurity.  They never would have been able to express themselves to such a large audience and for that I am grateful. It's a hard pill to swallow, progress is, but one that we will have to swallow if we are going to move on and adapt.  You know the saying, adapt or die. Call yourself what you will, I know what I am and I don't need someone else to validate it for it to be true.  So pick up that camera and create your art!


For the Love of Photography

I have been trying to find a theme for my work for some time now.  Nothing jumped out at me.  Matt Granger has "Get Your Gear Out", Jerod Polin has "I Shoot Raw" so what should be mine........and then it hit me.  "For the Love of Photography".  The expression "for the love of god" has been one that I have heard a million times growing up.  Always an expression of exasperation.  Not believing whatever it was the person was witnessing or being so disgusted by it that the expression was necessary.  I love photography.  I don't love gear, I don't love software and I sure as hell don't love spending my time with my camera so that I can get a few likes on the interweb.  I just love the act of creating images.  Sharing them is just a bonus.  Do I want people to love my work?  Sure, who doesn't, but it's not my motivator.  I am at my happiest while wandering, looking for the perfect landscape or the leaf that is just the right color of orange or someone doing something interesting in a place that has meaning to them.  Capturing these moments in time is a pure pleasure.  

I feel that we have gone far afield in the world of photography.  Spending too much time pining away at the newest gear.  Cameras are replaced with newer models before you have time to master the one you just bought.  Technology is improving at an amazing rate but does that mean that you have to have the latest and greatest first?  Is doing this going to help you master the craft of photography?  I believe that answer is a resounding NO!  My old Nikon D70 is a great camera.  6 megapixels, small viewing screen and no movie mode.  I am able to still make amazing images with it.  I am confident that I will be able to hand that camera to my oldest son in a few years and have him learn the basics/fundamentals of photography by using it.  

Do I like new gear?  Yes.  Do I get G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) sometimes? Another YES!  but I have to put on the brakes.  I have to think, do I need a new camera or is a new lens a better choice?  Maybe I should invest in a class or book or visit a museum or photo gallery.  Or maybe I should take a day off from my day job to take photos.  These are all things to think about.  Sometimes you do need new gear.  Your abilities outgrow your equipment and new features are what you NEED, not what you WANT!  I get it.  I just think we should all take some time and enjoy the process.  Learn a new skill with that existing camera.  Take a walk with a photo friend and do it "For The Love Of Photography"

Full Frame DSLR? Mirrorless? Hmmm.....

I want to take my photography to the next level, but which system do I want to invest in?  There are so many debates out there, some saying the DSLR is dead and that Mirrorless has taken over or Mirrorless cameras are nice for casual photographers but not for a pro.  You can Google "DSLR vs. Mirrorless" and the flood of opinions will appear before you.  What it comes down to for me are quality of the image and affordability of the gear.  I know this is a simplistic view but for me it is this basic.  I have no problem switching to a new system and deal with the learning curve for the right camera.

As a pro photographer quality images are the basic expectation.  So I started to do some visual research.  I headed to a few photo sharing sites to look at images taken with different systems.  Because I'm a Nikon shooter I stuck with the Nikon D610 and the D750 for DSLR images and for Mirrorless I chose the Fuji XT1.  The reason I chose the XT1 is that first off I love the styling.  Yes I said it, the styling.  It reminds me of my Nikon FE2.  It's what I hoped the Nikon DF was going to be.  I have rented the XT1 and love the feel of it and the small form factor.  I like the EVF (Electronic View Finder) and the other features of this camera.  I looked at about 100 images from each camera and to tell you the truth there wasn't much difference.  The one difference I did notice was that the Fuji images had a more real to life look.       In my opinion Nikon images, JPG or RAW have a distinctive look to them.  I love this loook and it's been the reason I have stayed with Nikon for as long as I have.  The XT1 allows you to apply film simulations such as their "Classic Chrome", which I believe was intended to emulate Kodak's Kodachrome as well as several other simulations.  That paired with filters also available with the XT1 and the creative possibilities are endless.  I like tech as much as the next guy but I am no expert on image sensors or lens elements so you won't get any long drawn out discussion on specs.  What I do know is what looks good and all of these cameras can create spectacular images in the right hands.  

I can't imagine anyone wants to throw away money on equipment.  It can be easy to jump in with both feet quickly after hearing positive review after positive review.  The newest shiny camera that promises to make your photos look as if pooped out by a unicorn mixed with pixy dust!  The inevitable feeling of dissapointment, regret and depression that you spent a month's worth of hard earned cash on something that just doesn't work for you.  For an entry level full frame Nikon system you are going to spend close to $3400.  The Nikon D610 is listed on B&H for $1496 and one decent lens, such as the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 will set you back close to $1900.  The Fuji XT1 sells for $1300 and the Fuji 16-55 f2.8 Weather Resistant lens(equivalent 24-82.5 full frame equivalent) will cost you $1200.  While the bodies cost close to the same amount, the fuji lenses are less expensive than the Nikon equivalents.  So going with the Mirrorless you would save close to $1000.  I know this is for just one camera and lens and most are going to be buying multiple lenses and a backup body.  The price just grows from there with a major savings by going mirrorless.  

I have shot Nikon for years.  I have a standard DX system that I have used for weddings, portraits and events.  I love Nikon gear and it has served me well from my FE2, purchased in 1983 to my D70 and then my D7000.  I do have to admit that when I see a system that is half the size and much cheaper with amazing quality images I am tempted. I'd love to hear what you think.  Are you shooting full frame or mirrorless?  Have you switched?  I'd love to hear your story.

My Life As A Souvenir Photographer

You know what i'm talking about.  You head out on a cruise on a lake or are getting off the lift at your favorite ski resort or checking out any one of the must see tourist destinations throughout the U.S.A. and there they are, poised with their camera in hand ready to position you in front of that beautiful backdrop...

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