Social Question

Jude's avatar

In your opinion, what does it take to become a good photographer?

Asked by Jude (32134points) October 18th, 2009

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Understanding the basics of composition, lighting and filters.

DarkScribe's avatar

Technique, talent, determination. A modern camera can pretty well ensure a technically good shot under most circumstances, the skill is in the selection of subject and the way it is portrayed.

If you go to a shoot with a group of photographers, they are all shooting the same subjects with cameras of a similar standard, yet one or two will be striking – really grab you while the rest are just snapshots. Lighting creates drama, not just in a studio, but by using the right lens aperture and angle when in daylight. There are many little tricks that can increase a a shot’s appeal – it isn’t something that you learn overnight.

deni's avatar

Having an eye for it. Understanding the technical aspects of it is important too.

syz's avatar

An understanding of the mechanics of photography, an ability to notice interesting angles, details, and composition, and maybe just of bit of seeing everyday things in a different way.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Being able to make things that people want to look at.

Like that photo of the workers eating their lunch on a construction girder high above the city. its more like a work of art than a photo.

EDIT: for most people, at least for me. looking at photographs is normally something i dont enjoy. very few times i have found my self enjoying a photo or a gallery of photos. i think its a case of finding a way around that.

deni's avatar

@poisonedantidote I love that photograph…i have a humongous poster of it right beside me actually! One of my favorites.

Zaku's avatar

Aesthetics, imagination, and interest.

cookieman's avatar

More than anything else, you need a good sense of composition and interesting way of looking at the subject. You also need a lot of patience to find the right “moment” in the story of the picture.

At least that’s how I do it.

Type of camera, technical choices, I feel are all relative.

judochop's avatar

All you need to do is shoot and shoot and shoot. This is why photographers shoot about 200 photos of people and things they want to capture. You are bound to get the right photo by clicking away. I’ve shot great photos with my camera and great photos with my phone. Just know what you want and work to capture it.

DarkScribe's avatar

@judochop All you need to do is shoot and shoot and shoot.

The question was about becoming a “good” photographer. A good photographer might bracket a shot, but never need to take hundreds of shots to get one good one. If you know what you are doing your get it right with two or three at the most – usually just the one.

judochop's avatar

@DarkScribe I’ve studied photography for years. This is the best advice to give someone who is asking a very vauge question about taking pictures. Why over complicate it? Just shoot away. Find what you want and capture it. Capture it with flash, without flash, different white balances, angles, etc. If you are shooting film then use filters, apt settings, buy a cheap light meter. Really though. You want a good shot. Then shoot as much as possible. Shooting macro? Then you’ll probably work differently however at this point I do not know his/her situation. Have you been shooting for a while? Ever takin a class? Film or digital? What camera(s) are you using? What do you like to shoot? If film what film? There are a million questions that can be asked but the best advice I can give is to just shoot.

mcbealer's avatar

Being willing to maybe sit/stand/bend a certain way – longer than is comfortable – in order to find the best light or angle.

Being willing to wait… sometimes without flinching a muscle – to capture wildlife in a still shot.

Being willing to forego having any pictures of yourself because you’d much rather be behind the camera, and capture all those priceless moment of the kids growing up.

And lastly, when in a group of 2 or more, letting others know it’s OK to go on ahead without you, that you’ll catch up. Sometimes getting that perfect shot takes a little extra time…

DarkScribe's avatar

@judochop Have you been shooting for a while? Ever takin a class? Film or digital?

I have been a photographer for more than thirty-five years, I work as an editor in print media and spend at least half my working week working with Photoshop and InDesign.

You have me wondering with things like with flash, without flash, why? You use flash only if it is needed. It isn’t something you just use either/or. As for different white balances, Why? There should only be one – the correct one. If you shoot raw it doesn’t matter. There are no cheap light meters, and few people use just a light meter nowadays – most cameras can perform as well. A flash meter in a studio – yes I do that regularly.

Most of all, if you are competent and experienced, before you even pick your camera up you have planned your shot – you know which lens, what lighting, what aperture. You do NOT need to take hundreds or even dozens of shots. If you are likely to have a problem with dynamic range you might bracket the shot. That is about it.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@DarkScribe Oh god… I knew that would happen. The questions were Not Directed Toward You. They were intended as hypothetical questions that could be posed to the OP in order to provide a better context for advice.

Additionally, you don’t have to be such a credentialed photographer to end up with a really fantastic shot every once in a while. I know that’s not what’s being asked, but not everyone has to be well versed in the mechanics, or plan their shot well, in order to convey their unique view of the world through their photography.

Don’t forget, once upon a time, you too knew absolutely nothing about photography. Are you going to tell me that no one should make a photograph unless they have mastered all aspects of photography? No. You had to practice as well, so the idea that there is a “correct” set of calibrations is irrelevant. Maybe your talent came naturally, but you still had to pick up a camera for the first time and shoot.

As much as it may bother a professional and experienced photographer, digitization has afforded everyone the ability to play “fast and loose” and disregard theory and best practices. The best highly generalized advice really is to practice.

judochop's avatar

@DarkScribe
sweet. Maybe we can exchange some photos. Awhile back there was a thread where everyone posted links to shots or shared them via email. We should do that again.
I guess I shoot differently than you.
As for flash and metering I sometimes over expose or create hotspots before editing a photo and sometimes under expose for the soul purpose of contrast during editing.

Les's avatar

The thing I always struggle with people to do is to not center me if I ask them to take a picture of me. People love when I take pictures of them, they always want to know how to get such nice pictures. Really, all I do most of the time is off-center the person. That’s it. Then, when I hand them the camera to get a shot of me, I’m smack in the middle. The other thing people always do to pictures is cut people off in odd spots: ankles, knees. If you’re so close to having all of me in the shot, why cut me off at the ankles? I think one key to good photography is just look at what you’re shooting. Whether you’re looking on a screen or through a viewfinder, look all over the “picture” before you take it. I try to do most of my composition when I take the picture, not on my computer after I take the picture.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Beta_Orionis I know that’s not what’s being asked, but not everyone has to be well versed in the mechanics, or plan their shot well, in order to convey their unique view of the world through their photography.

The point is what was asked was specific. What does it take to become a “GOOD” photographer. That is the question that I was concerned with. It was not “how do I take snapshots” which I would have a very different response to.

What I mentioned is related to good photography, not to amateur happy snapping. Many millions of people are quite happy to click away and occasionally get a good shot as a result. A good photographer is one who almost always gets a good shot, one who knows enough to do it without thinking. A good photographer does not just click click click and hope for something good – s/he learns enough to know how to get that good shot the first time. One of the biggest negatives with regard to digital is that by not having to spend time and money on processing film, the incentive to think carefully before “clicking” has gone. It is a step backward.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@DarkScribe That is not specific. Good is an entirely subjective concept. Yours is not the only valid definition. Especially in an opinion-based context.

The question regards the process of becoming a good photographer, not the qualifications of an existing competent photographer. Expounding the virtues of experienced photography is pointless.

If you want to get really picky, the tags indicate the OP’s intent was to explore the creative aspect of photography, not the rigidity of professional canon.

One could definitely approach photography the long and haphazard way that digital cameras enable, by snapping, until you find techniques that work and ultimately reach a point where excellent images are produced consistently sans precise or theoretical technical knowledge.

My point is that you response was not directed towards the OP (your first response was excellent in that regard) and was an assertion of your credentials and a display of an elitist attitude about photography [evidenced in the notion of The_Right_Way™] rather than an addition to the discussion.

DarkScribe's avatar

@Beta_Orionis That is not specific. Good is an entirely subjective concept. Yours is not the only valid definition. Especially in an opinion-based context.

You have to be kidding. Ok, if you want to split hairs, go for it. A good photographer is pretty explicit to most people.

One could definitely approach photography the long and haphazard way that digital cameras enable, by snapping, until you find techniques that work and ultimately reach a point where excellent images are produced consistently sans precise or theoretical technical knowledge.

One could, but one would be pretty foolish. If you want to learn anything, you get training and experience, you don’t just blunder about hoping to eventually stumble into proficiency.

BTW, how many nicks are you posting under? Your first post using this one was DarkScribe Oh god… I knew that would happen. The questions were Not Directed Toward You.

…you were responding as though you were judochop. You aren’t – are you?

Beta_Orionis's avatar

That’s not splitting hairs, it’s true. Just by saying it’s pretty explicit you’re asserting there’s only one True definition, when in fact there is a whole host of them.

Remember we’re in the arena of Art Philosophy here.

It’s only foolish to you, who operate so technically. Intuitive understanding is just as valid as scientific in this field.

You create photographs by following your own set of precise rules. Someone else may get a feeling and set up a shot based on experiential memory. In both cases, it is the end result that matters.

Consider Lomography and its tenets.

.
What a strange question. I only have one account. I am not judochop.

Flo_Nightengale's avatar

Passion and patience!

DarkScribe's avatar

@judochop I guess I shoot differently than you.
As for flash and metering I sometimes over expose or create hotspots before editing a photo and sometimes under expose for the soul purpose of contrast during editing.

I don’t see why. Underexposing only increases noise in the image, it doesn’t increase contrast. If you want to increase contrast you can easily do it in post processing, as you can increase highlights. To increase highlights by overexposing blows them out – you lose all detail. A good shot should maximise dynamic range without either under or over exposing. That is why most modern cameras have histograms.

pizzaman's avatar

To be a good photographer you have to be able to know good settings to have pics. taken and how to arrange peoples positions.

judochop's avatar

@DarkScribe
now you’re just being sarcastic and belittleing.
I guess it all depends on what
you’re after with the shot. We all know you’re a pro. You’ve convinced everyone here that you’re better.
Now, would you like to show us all your work?

judochop's avatar

@Beta Orionis
Lomo is a ton of fun. Pinhole Diana and
Holgas create beautiful shots.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I’m a photo major, and, in my opinion, to become a “good photographer,” you need that brilliant mixture of natural ability to see light and understand how it will be translated from the 3d scene to a 2d image, technical proficiency (which, sadly, includes knowledge of equipment of all sorts), and a strong and unique point of view, which adds something to the “conversation” within the photographic world. You can create a technically wonderful and beautiful image, but I don’t consider it successful until you can articulate why you made that image and what you want to say with it. That applies mainly to art, I suppose, and I guess that has a lot to do with being in art school right now. There are certainly other forms of photography that are important and require a good amount of skill too, and I guess technical proficiency is the most important aspect of those things. Composition, lighting, framing, etc – all these things are important.

I would also say that a knowledge of the other work that has been and is being created is of paramount importance too. While it isn’t necessarily mandatory, I think it helps one grow and learn different ways of seeing and interpreting one’s own images.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@judochop agreed! I’ve never had a Lomo to play with, but they produce some lovely results.

DarkScribe's avatar

@judochop _now you’re just being sarcastic and belittleing. _

I was being accurate – nothing more. When I am sarcastic it is unmistakable.

drClaw's avatar

Good photos.

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