There is No Magic Pill

Sidewalk Flowers
Sidewalk Flowers, by Bryan Davidson

I read an interesting post the other day about some tips to improve your photography.  What struck me about the tips is that they were good, but they aren’t the kinds of tips that are usually found floating all over the web.  When I commented on that, the author, J Brian Haferkamp, said that most photography advice is like the amazing diet pills you see advertised everywhere when the best advice is the less sexy “get out and exercise.”  I love that analogy.  What are some other “diet pill” types of advice that you’ve seen for new photographers?  I’ve seen lots:

  • Pretty much any article about equipment falls into this category
  • Buy a nifty-fifty!  I agree that using primes can improve your photography, but you better combine that with some of Haferkamp’s advice if you want to reap the benefits
  • HDR!
  • Photoshop actions
  • Textures (I’ve seen them done well, but most of the time… Ugh)
  • Most Photoshop tutorials (especially replacing the sky… oooh, selective coloring deserves to be called out too… Ugh)

One cliché that gets mentioned almost constantly is “it’s the photographer, not the camera” (ITPNTC).  If that quells some of your equipment anxiety, great, but it’s getting a little worn out.  If that’s true, then why do iPhone and Holga photographers feel the need to bash you over the head with what camera they used?  Sure, a good photographer can do good work with any camera, but whenever ITPNTC is put out there, there’s never any accompanying advice.  Ok, great, my photography depends more on me than my camera… now what?  Haferkamp’s advice about finding good light, taking lots of shots of the same thing, moving around, etc. will make you a better photographer.  Endlessly spitting out meaningless clichés like ITPNTC might make people feel good, but it won’t improve their photography.  Work hard at becoming a better photographer first and then you’ll be able to pick up any camera and create art with it.

Rendezvous, by Bryan Davidson

Be sure to read Haferkamp’s article and put his tips to practice.  It takes effort to get better at anything.  You’ll find that the rewards will come quickly and be well worth it.  While you’re photographing, if you aren’t annoying the people you’re with and confounding strangers, then you probably aren’t working hard enough.


One thought on “There is No Magic Pill

  1. Bryan:

    Thanks for the love here on your site. I especially like the last line. You should write a blog! I hope the tips come in handy for someone and they become a better photographer because of it. I know that it’s been primo advice for me. You’re right — doing those things will make you a better photographer pretty quickly.

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