A straightforward quick start guide to get started in photography:
1. What is photography?
With photography, you yield your camera as your creative instrument. You make photos, pictures, and visual images with your camera.
2. Is photography a true art?
Of course it is. Ignore anyone else who tells you otherwise.
Art is whatever you create which speaks to your soul. To me, there isn’t such a thing as “good” or “bad” art. There is only authentic or inauthentic art.
And what makes authentic artwork, or authentic photos? Photos that you shoot for yourself. Photos you shoot which reveal a bit of your soul.
How is your soul revealed through your photos?
- Photographing what speaks to your soul
- Photographing those who you love
- Photos of yourself
- Photos of what you consider beautiful in the world
All of these will lead to you shooting more authentic art works and images.
3. Why make photos?
There are a trillion ways to express yourself as an artist. Why photography?
Photography is a very interesting visual artwork medium. On one hand, it is very technological. On the other hand, it captures “reality” more “accurately” than a pencil, pen, or paintbrush.
Henri Cartier-Breason once called photographs as “instant sketches”. To take this notion further — I see photographs as instant art works.
4. How do I know if my photos are good or not?
This is the wrong question. The better question:
Do these photos speak to my soul?
Or in other words:
Do I like the photo or not?
To me, if you like the photo, it is a good photo. Ultimately all artwork and photography is subjective. Thus, you must determine for yourself whether you consider the photograph good or not.
5. How I pick my photos
When I’m selecting my own photos, I choose photos which empower me. Photos which put a smile on my face, photos which cause me to grin, photos which reaffirm the beauty of existence and life, and photos which have elegant balance and dynamism/movement/energy in the photo.
Essentially, I follow my gut. If I’m not sure whether I like it or not, I don’t pick it. If I look at my photo and instinctively I like it, I pick it. Simple as that.
6. Your photography is always in a state of flux
Every moment, every day— you are changing, evolving, improving, adapting, and become more concentrated as a photographer. The goal isn’t an ultimate style which is immutable. Finality is the enemy. The goal is to constantly delight in the everlasting “creative recurrence”— to create photos all day, everyday, with joy, enthusiasm, and thanksgiving.
In a very simple way— it is all about constantly having fun with photography!
If you’re no longer having fun with photography, continue to modify your photographic lifestyle, approach, and mindset until you start to enjoy photography again!
7. What should I photograph?
A big sucker mistake to avoid:
Don’t pursue a specific genre in photography.
In my experience I’ve discovered that it is beneficial to stick to a very specific genre and niche when you’re starting off, if you desire to master it and become famous. However the problem is that it is often too easy to get pigeon-holed into a specific genre, which will lead you to losing motivation and inspiration.
The optimal strategy would be to start with a very specific photography genre, then branch out (becoming more and more general over time). However at the same time, perhaps being a generalist from the get-go might be an optimal strategy as well.
8. What’s the best camera or lens to use?
iPhone can cover 90% of your personal photographic needs. I personally love the HUJI CAM photo app.
If you want a dedicated “standalone” digital camera, I recommend the RICOH GR II (has flash), or the RICOH GR III (doesn’t have flash, but has better image quality and is smaller).
9. Just shoot it.
It seems the optimal strategy to approach photography is simple:
When in doubt, just shoot it.
There’s a trillion settings and options to use in photography, which often clouds our judgement and passion for photography.
Photography is best when it is direct, unmediated, and unconscious. The best way to approach photography is for us to build this zen-connection with our camera, and when we are shooting photos we fall into a zen-like trance of becoming one with our camera. When we shoot, the photos shoot themselves.
10. Ignore everyone else
The last idea:
Ignore everyone else in photography.
Everyone will have their own vision, purpose, and technique in photography. Even studying the masters of photography won’t give you ultimate wisdom in photography. The best way to approach studying the masters is this:
Realize all the masters became masters because they pioneered unpaved roads in photography, did things differently, and dared to be bold in their artistic vision.
Furthermore— all the masters have created a billion “rules” in photography, while also breaking all of them.
Everything we learn in photography and life is just a tip and suggestion. Ultimately you got the power whether to accept the advice or not!
BE BOLD. ERIC