Photographic World: There is A Guru – No Mind

This article is subjective in nature and was written by me against a variety of experts who are always present in abundance on photographic forums and are always happy to express their “universal” and “always correct” opinion on certain issues. I did not mean anyone specifically.

The photographic world is made up of outstanding photographers, cutting edge technology and experts who can help you become the photographer you want to be.

This may be a strong statement, however, there are actually very few original ideas. If this or that photographer is truly honest, then he will not hide from you that all his pictures were taken under the influence of photographs, paintings, architectural objects and styles of other photographers whom he has long admired. To deny this is to lie in the eyes of your colleagues, clients, and ultimately yourself. When we admire someone, it somehow is reflected in our pictures, and nothing can be done about it. If you take the best from other photographers, but bring your own unique “handwriting” into the finished shots, then this deserves respect.

In photography, there is now a fairly large emphasis on equipment, and sometimes it is even surprising what a false sense of confidence in one’s capabilities high-quality photographic equipment instills in a novice photographer. If you read the blogs and forums discussing a wide variety of photography topics, the scale of the discussion of photographic equipment is simply amazing (as is the causticity of many comments).

Of course, cameras are getting better, sensors are getting better, and RAW file sizes are getting ridiculously large. But little of this will help you become a good photographer. It’s the same as if a very good guitar made you an outstanding guitarist. But both the camera and the guitar are just instruments that give you certain possibilities, some of which are very important. A camera in the hands of a person who understands what photography really is can help create images that evoke emotion and leave a much deeper viewing experience than a camera in the hands of someone who is concerned about megapixels, maximum working ISO and other technical aspects.

A lot of great photographs have been taken on film, and for those who buy photo albums of outstanding photographers, it doesn’t really matter what technology was used to take this or that iconic photo. For them, only the content of the picture is important.

Most of the photographers you will meet along the way have the latest digital camera, are able to explain the difference between CMOS and CCD technologies, talk about the advantages of 14-bit RAW, however, they hardly took at least a thousand pictures with their cameras, with the vast majority of them are ordinary pictures that can be found in everyone’s albums. The tool for such photographers is more important than what, in fact, this tool is intended for.

On the other hand, photographers who are focused on the content of a shot don’t particularly care about how they shoot – they just take a photo and don’t know much about the technology their cameras have. But these photographers know how to choose the right exposure, focus and where to take great shots. The main thing is not what is in the camera, but what is present in the frame.

Thanks to the Internet, anyone can be heard and declare themselves an expert. Some people who share knowledge and experience (whether in the form of an article or a forum post) are indeed experts and need to be listened to. The complete and detailed information received from them can be useful to both beginners and advanced photographers.

On the other hand, there are sites that are created in order to promote their owners on any issues related to photography. Some of these sites have articles, forums and even free courses, however, any dialogue with the owner takes place under the motto “I know more than you, I am an expert and I want everyone around to know about it.” And, of course, such self-proclaimed gurus have their followers who listen to every word with an open mouth, worship him and defend his theses with foam at the mouth. Few will be able to name and show you a couple of outstanding pictures of this guru, but they will tell you in detail what restaurant he likes to visit and in which country he prefers to relax.

The truth is, reading websites or discussing in forums is no substitute for practice. It all depends on what you want to achieve by photographing, as well as on your free time. Do you want to become a professional, whose pictures will be published in famous magazines and used by large advertising agencies, or endlessly discuss in lens clubs the advantages of various delayering methods? Are you taking another photo to add to your portfolio, or to refute someone’s point of view in the forum?

If you test the Canon EOS 5D mark IV or the Pentax K-1 for yourself, will you get more credible information and learn something new? Or will it be easier to read someone’s opinion in the forum and accept it as fact?

Is it worth getting into the debate in online photo clubs if it takes you time to take new photos, learn how to use the available lighting, or just find new clients (if you shoot or want to start shooting for money)?

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