Learning photography, especially for beginners, can really be kickstarted by one’s enthusiasm about the craft. In fact, since people have different ways of learning and different paces of learning as well, being able to ask the right questions most of the time gets one on the right track. So, here are a few questions that one should skip entirely.
1. What Exposure Settings Are Best for This Genre?
This is a question most often asked by those who have just started shooting outside the safe realm of the auto modes. For some reason, some photographers think that exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) are some kind of ingredients in a recipe, and the reason why it’s a nonsense question is simply because they're not. Exposure settings are not determined by the kind of shoot you are doing but by the lighting conditions of each specific shot. The reality is that every single second, especially when you’re shooting outdoors, have different lighting conditions, which means that the recipe that your friend may have given you from his shoot two months ago will most likely not be applicable to the shot you are taking right now.
Mastering exposure requires a full understanding of the three exposure settings, the light sources, and how light behaves altogether. No matter how many books you read and how many photos you’ve seen with their exposure settings right beside them, practice and understanding light are the only ways to master it.
2. Did You Edit That Photo?
Many photographers start in the craft with an erroneous understanding of editing and Photoshop. Mainly because of social media, people have the misconception that an edited photograph is automatically a fake photo. Unless you’re a newbie studying to be a photojournalist, you should understand that photography, as much as any other art form, is a free art form and editing may be a necessary part of refining your output.
The camera is no longer just a tool to document certain events. It’s not a copy machine. The camera has become a tool to create art that aims to express, inspire, and exude beauty. One should also understand that an edited photograph doesn’t always mean it’s a beautiful one in the same way that an unedited photo doesn’t really make it automatically ugly. Instead, whether or not to edit is the choice of the artist based on whether they think that the original photo already represents their artistic vision entirely.
3. What Lens Should I Buy to Start Shooting Like You?
One of the best things to learn right off the bat is that the gear you have does not dictate the photos you take. There have been hundreds of YouTube videos made on this topic, wherein professional photographers were tasked to create masterpieces with cheap or entry-level gear, and each one ended with the conclusion that an experienced photographer can take good photos with any camera. That will always remain true. Though specifications and certain features differ and are generally better with more expensive gear, it doesn’t take away the fact that as long as a camera can take a clear picture, it can take a good one.
One of the most underemphasized facts about gear is that the less professional-looking, small, and cheap kit lens that came with your entry-level camera is actually the best kind of lens for every newbie. The kit lens (18-55mm, 16-50mm, and all other variants) is a standard zoom lens that is actually a watered down version of its professional counterpart for most brands (24-70mm), simply because that lens has a good range that goes from wide angle to a bit of telephoto with which you can try almost all genres of photography, and it’s cheap not just so you can afford it, but also because it wouldn’t be as painful if you make a clumsy newbie mistake that destroys it.
Asking these questions is, of course, acceptable, but the unfortunate truth is that sometimes seemingly more experienced peers give wrong and misleading answers that generally impede your development as a new photographer, so hopefully, reading this helps you avoid some wrong turns.