Friday, August 16, 2013

diverse and varied advice of dubious consistency


Good shoes are more important than a good camera.

It's better to have the same brand of camera as the people around you in your life than to have whatever is momentarily latest and greatest.

"More Zoom" is never the correct answer to any question.

If you're an aspiring Canon camera owner, it's important to know that "2.8L" is not a measure of volume.

Spending money on new gear means getting less use from what you've already paid for.

One lens will do most of the work. A second lens will do most of the rest. A third lens will do very little at all.

Start simply and add complexity as necessary.

Extra batteries and memory cards are cheap.

Flip-out screens work.

Ken Rockwell is a troll. Never associate with a photographer who doesn't realize this.

Factor in the price of a small fast prime when budgeting for a superzoom lens.

A 50mm prime is the original all-purpose lens.

Leave the bandolier camera straps to the Rambotographers.

There is no "best" equipment. Everything involves compromises.

The top of the camera is a terrible place for a light or a microphone.

Adding functions doesn't increase functionality.

An antidote to being seduced by any new shiny object is to go back and read the sales literature for the one that's a couple of generations old. It was new and shiny once, too.


If the camera brand you use is the most important thing about your photography, stop.

Taping up the logos on your camera fools nobody.

Lens perspective and camera position aren't interchangeable. "Zoom with your feet" is terrible advice.

The difference between 200mm and 300mm isn't all that significant.

Small differences in focal length matter a lot at the wide end.

Wide lenses are never to be used to "get more in".

Use burst mode for photos with slower shutter speeds. The second or third frame will often be sharper than the first.

Tripods aren't for everyone.

You are not a war photographer.

Using a film camera occasionally is good for you.

There are no awards for having thin depth of field.

ISO and RAW are not acronyms, but "jpeg" is.

Lens hoods are worth it and look cool, but when reversed the reverse is true.

Disable the autofocus beep and digital zoom on every camera you pick up.

There is no such thing as a "portrait lens" or "landscape lens". Any lens can be used for any subject.

Intentionally using "wrong" equipment often gives excellent results.

Zoom lenses have middle positions, too.

Always have a spare battery on the charger.

Focus shift is not a defect. Accept it or move on.

Exercises designed to "prove" that The Camera Does/Doesn't Matter are a waste of time.

It's not a neck strap, it's a shoulder strap, and sling the camera with the lens pointing inward.

A camera in hand is 60% more likely to be used than one that's slung by its strap, 85% more likely than one in a shoulder bag, and 98% more likely than one in a backpack.

"Cameras" and "Photos" are two different hobbies. Sometimes they overlap, and other times they don't. Both are okay.


Long lenses usually produce good photos, while wide lenses easily create bad ones. But wide lenses have the facility for photographic greatness that long lenses lack.

Your camera doesn't create your photos: they are a result of who you are, where you are, and how you think. New equipment won't change that.

Different cameras and lenses may offer different possibilities that could be transformative.

There are fundamental differences between friends and corporations. Identify them and keep the two categories distinct.

Rotate to straighten the verticals after cropping, not just before.

Basic math is not a creative endeavour. Save the Manual mode for when it actually matters.

It's fine to date around with pixel-editing programs, but cataloging raw conversion software like Lightroom or Aperture won't show their strength until after you're married.

When travelling plan on taking photos the same way that you do at home. This isn't the time to establish a new habit.

Buying new equipment "for the trip" is always a bad idea.

Birds are horrible creatures, and should never be photographed.

Bird seed is cheaper than a long lens.

Either become a ruthless editor or shoot film.

Cropping is perfectly acceptable.

Shoot colour references.

Having something in sharp focus will improve any photograph.

If everyone else is pointing their lens in the same direction, turn around.

Attaining technical skill is a starting point, not an ending.


Photos of the important people in your life will be worth more to you in the future than any other photograph you can take.

Strive to spend as much time taking photos as talking about gear.

In any given situation there is always someone else who is at least as important as I am.

Go back in your archives to look at what you did at this time last year, or two years ago. What can you revisit? Where was the best light?

Being able to recognize a good photograph is a very important skill for a photographer to have.

Road trips are a photographic necessity. Take at least one per year.

Being able to do anything isn't everything. Limitations can be powerful.

People create art with equipment that I wouldn't buy from a garage sale.

Diversify your equipment, your influences, your thinking, and your friends.

Pay more attention to people who talk about photographs than to those who talk about cameras, and more to people who talk about art than to those who talk about photographs.

There is probably a cheaper alternative to buying new gear. There are no effective alternatives to doing the work.

If you've bought more than two lenses in the past six months then get the hell away from photography forums.

Bad weather makes things look interesting. Good weather does not.

Pay more attention to being a decent human being than to enforcing some concept of Photographers' Rights.

Finish what you start.

Photography is a solitary activity.

A vacation, new lawnmower, or a some extra time away from the day job may improve your photography more than buying a new camera or lens.

The best photos usually come after pushing past the feeling that the subjects' potential has been exhausted.

Taking lots of photos may not lead directly to improvement, but it has a better chance than not taking them.

Making money as a photographer depends more on business skills than camera skills.

If camera-geeks are the intended audience for your photos, then you're doing something wrong.


If the first comments about a photo are on its technical merits, it's a miss.

Other photographers aren't your 'competition'. Be welcoming and generous.

Online jpegs are a lousy way to evaluate, or appreciate, photographs.

Don't be insular. Watch movies, study advertising, read poems.

Outside of France "Giclée" is spelt "Inkjet".

If at a loss for something to say about a photo, use the word "juxtaposition" in a sentence.

Bring the camera to your passions. Photograph what fascinates you, engages you, challenges you, or enrages you.

Captions, titles, and descriptions are also part of photography.

Work in series, create projects, have themes.

Good photos can come from being annoyed.

The creative process extends right up until the work is presented in its final form.

Learn from critics, but stop being motivated by what other people think, good or bad.

Exhibit a statistically insignificant percentage of the photos that you take.

Find a font that makes your name look good and stick with it.

Artists statements need to be concise, powerful, and about the work.

A viewer's attention is precious. Don't waste it.

Make at least three excellent prints each year.

Pay attention to quiet voices and give them space to be heard.

Have an opinion about your subject and express it within your photos.

Start something that will take a year to complete.

Finish it.