I have been messing around with photography since I was about 12, getting my first real SLR film camera back in the dark ages and then moving on to digital since then. (Digital cameras have really changed how I look at the world and how I take photos…)
I am, I think, what is casually termed an AmPro, which is a mixture of professional and amateur. Professionally, I get paid for my photographs, that’s true, and I have had work selected for fine art exhibitions and people have been great and bought pieces to hang in their houses etc. (For example, the photo above (of a building in Chicago) was selected for a limited place in a juried exhibition for a large arts festival this month…)
And yet, at the same time, it’s all been self-taught and I don’t do it FT. Plus I feel that I’m more intuitive in how I take photos (rather than technically proficient). I couldn’t give someone the technical details of how to take the photos, but I know a good photo when I see it and I know how to get there. So – it’s a mix, really, and thus the AmPro designation…
So – thinking about photography the other day, I thought I’d look around and see what photo-related books were out there…. These titles have potential, I thought.
Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography… – Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport
Eight Girls Taking Pictures – Whitney Otto
And then for really good and very practical reference “How To” guides, I love these NF guys:
Scott Kelby’s works are FANTASTIC how-to books – not focused on the technical side of things, but more of a practical bent which is usually what I am searching for. Kelby approaches photographic situations in a similar vein as cooks use recipes: “If you have this XX problem, then you’ll probably need to use this button and that setting to get around it”…. These have been invaluable to me in my photography, both professional and otherwise.
Bryan Peterson is another super-good instructional photographer/writer from whom I have learned a lot over the years. (He is especially good at the more artistic side of photographic composition etc.)
And here is a resource page of some really good titles that have been put together by this photog group. This is a really good list to start with and then move on from… Lots of ideas no matter where you are on the photographic experience continuum.
For me, the key to taking good photos is to practice. You don’t have to have the expensive equipment. (It helps, of course, but it’s more important to “see” the composition to make the pic than it is to have all the gadgetry that is out there.) Once you learn to recognize good photograph opportunities, you’ll see them everywhere and therein lays the fun. Plus, with digital, if you don’t like it, you can delete it. (Very different from when you only had 24 or 36 exposures on your film and that was it… Phew. The pressure to make each pic count!)
I happen to use a Canon Rebel xTi with a good zoom lens if you’re curious, but I started with one of these (if you remember them):