Happy April Fool’s Day! Each year, we try to write an article or two to remind people about the lighter side of photography. Last year, when we said that our entire team was switching over to Canon and refusing to review any other equipment, a solid number of people believed us. Great! Now that it’s 2017, we’re upping the ante by writing four top tips to improve your photography this April, including suggestions that will remain relevant even if Artificial Intelligence takes over the planet and all art becomes obsolete.
1) How to Improve Your Gear Without Taking More Photos
One of the main problems photographers face is that, almost without exception, we find ourselves taking photos.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not 100% opposed to taking photos, so long as your subject is a brick wall, a regular wall, or something similar. In rare circumstances (i.e., testing the bokeh of your lens), I’d even consider it acceptable to take out-of-focus pictures of your desk lamp.
However, in an ideal world, most photographers would rather just sit back and improve their gear without actually taking any photos along the way. Although there’s no perfect solution to this problem, I do have one tip that I strongly recommend: Rely on work you’ve already done.
If you’ve ever taken photos before — intentionally or by accident — use them. For example, have you ever taken a few close-ups of your keyboard after buying a new camera? I know I have. In fact, half the photos I’ve ever taken are of my keyboard! If the same is true for you, it’s pretty clear that you need a macro lens.
You can follow the same process for any other camera equipment that you want to buy. Rather than going to the trouble of charging a battery, finding a memory card, putting them both in your camera, attaching a lens, taking off the lens cap, taking a nap, setting all the proper settings, and capturing a photo, just look through your old photos and buy more gear. Every photo you took in the past is, potentially, another piece of equipment that you can buy today.
For example, before you knew how to use your camera, did you ever accidentally take an out-of-focus photo of the inside of your bag? If so, most likely, you need a camera with a better autofocus system. I would recommend the Nikon D5 and a good zoom lens, such as the 24-70mm f/2.8 VR.
Of course, that kit won’t work for everyone. Maybe the only photos you’ve ever taken were some snapshots at the zoo, for example. If that’s the case, you may prefer a telephoto lens instead. I use the Nikon 800mm f/5.6, and, if you don’t, your wildlife photos will be disappointing.
Or, maybe you once tried to take a photo at night. If so, I would recommend an entirely different kit: the James Webb Space Telescope.
What’s the underlying key here? Simple: You’re not doing any new work. If you’re careful, you can improve your equipment without taking a single new photo along the way.
2) How to Become a Professional Landscape Photographer and Travel the World
This one is almost too easy.
First, quit your job and start writing articles for a landscape or travel photography magazine. It doesn’t need to be a large magazine like National Geographic, either — something small like Outdoor Photography works almost as well.
Second, sell stock photos on the side.
Third, use the power of social media to find participants for your workshops.
Finally, don’t forget to put a few ads on your website to generate some extra revenue. This probably won’t be enough to make a living, but it could cover your site’s hosting costs.
3) How to Start a Forum Argument
Frankly, this world doesn’t have nearly enough arguments or negativity in it — but you can change that!
One of the noblest inventions of the 20th century was the internet forum, a place for people of all backgrounds to gather and share their knowledge, working towards a more educated and inclusive future. Here’s something that no one else realizes, though: Anyone can write anything they want on a forum.
If you’d like, you can write a thirty-paragraph treatise on why photography is not an art form; you can write a ten-word, typo-filled response to someone else’s well-researched post; you can end all your posts with the signature, “I shoot JPEG.”
You can write anything you want on a forum, and you score points each time someone blocks you or replies to one of your comments.
I do this all the time. It’s great.
If you want some help, I’ve listed a few sample quotes to get you started. Feel free to copy and paste:
- “Here’s how you tell the pros from the amateurs: pros shoot in PROgram mode, because they don’t have time to fool around with camera settings.”
- “The Sony A7R is horrible.”
- “The Sony A7R is amazing.”
- “You’re overthinking ISO — it’s just a way for your camera to capture more light when it’s dark out.”
- “Micro Four-Thirds cameras are better than DSLRs in every way. Just to name one, they have more depth of field.”
Feel free to get creative. If you think of a particularly provoking topic, don’t hesitate to deviate from the suggestions on this list. For example, try reviewing a piece of equipment that you’ve never used, or writing that colors from Canon cameras are vastly better than those from Nikon. There’s an entire world out there of people earnestly trying to learn a new skill, and you have the power to make their journey far more frustrating. Use it wisely.
4) How to Speak to the Ghost of Henri Cartier-Bresson
It’s impossible. I’ve tried. Trust me on this — it won’t work.
If you follow the four tips above, you’ll become the Prime Minister of Photography. To recap:
- By relying on photos you’ve taken in the past, you can buy new gear without taking any new photos.
- Become a professional landscape photographer and travel the world.
- To decrease the number of people in the world who like photography (i.e., eliminating your competition), start as many forum arguments as possible. Make every online resource a nightmare to read. Your goal is to turn away starry-eyed beginners and make the hobby of photography far more effort than it’s worth.
- Don’t try to speak with the ghost of Henri Cartier-Bresson, because it won’t work.
Becoming the Prime Minister of Photography is an ambitious goal, but, maybe, you could be the chosen one. After all, someone has to fight the AI, and it might as well be you.
On a serious note, we at Photography Life truly appreciate our readers, and we wouldn’t be able to write crazy things like this without you. Please don’t actually spam photography forums.
Our team wishes you a Merry April Fool’s Day and a Happy New Year!
U ARE A MORON U DONT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY U SHOULD JUST QUIT AND GIVE UR GEAR 2 MY CAT HE TAKE BETTER PHOTOS THAN U!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!1!!!!!!
(Am I doing #3 right? I decided to go with the insulting/loud variation of forum comment style instead of your more conversational/scholarly style.)
Also, I think one time I was able to summon the ghost of Henri Cartier-Bresson but got cursed (probably because I don’t speak French and he was mad I bothered him). Now every time I try to capture the decisive moment, my camera switches to self timer mode with a 2-second delay. Is this normal? Any idea how to fix it?
I devised a great way to convert my DSLR into a mirrorless for cheap. I used some pliers to yank the mirror out. It’s now lighter and totally silent.
May be a bit late, but anyway here goes my photographic routine…I love to like take my camera apart (with a screwdriver+ other bits and bobs) and just using the glass lens tip. This way I don’t have to waste and camera space or resources to take a photo. All you need is a little imagination and a good memory to keep the picture in your head. I guess we don’t need a lens after all. :)
Really like you’re lupine photo. Thank you Spencer for all your informative postings, insights, knowledge and beautiful photography. And great April Fools thread.
Many thanks for your article, Spencer, it is a truly priceless addition to Photography Life :-)
While reading it, I laughed so much that I started coughing up a lung. No harm done: the paramedics discovered that it wasn’t a lung; it was just the rubber bulb section of a remote shutter release that I’d been experimenting with during my teenage years.
I especially liked #3. It sounded like you were talking about Ken R…….. I know Ken and he is able to make a living out of his comments on his website. His comments can certainly misdirect a newby but he does make the more experienced photographer think twice about common photography wisdom.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
My photo inventory has over 400 images of my dog, 37 for my travel mug, 7 images of random dog toys scattered on our hardwood floor any 2 of my wife. Is this the normal pet to spouse ratio one should expect after three months with new gear?
Yes that is normal. You don’t want to immediately move to photographing only the dog until your wife becomes comfortable with the new gear.
Milton, I am more worried about the sheer number of photos that you’ve been taking over the past three months rather than the ratio of pet photos to spouse photos. Don’t get me wrong; two photos of your wife is far more than I would recommend — it’s just that there’s a bigger problem here.
400 images? At this rate, I’m shocked that your camera hasn’t caught on fire. What could you possibly be doing that requires so many photos? Autofocus tests? Frame rate tests? Buffer tests? I don’t mean to be rude, but I fail to see anything that would lead to numbers like this.
If I were you, I would go back to the basics. Put down your camera and buy a new one, then repeat until you feel emotionally fulfilled.
If you are testing your hand-holding ability you can easily burn through 400 images. You should perfect your technique until you can hand-hold without blur for four seconds. Pet pictures are good for this. Radial pet-blurring indicates inferior technique. Pet-blurring in the direction of pet motation indicates superior technique.
Two pictures of your wife indicate that you may be hand-holding with her. Just don’t let the boys at the bar know about this.
I have decided to join the movement and go mirrorless. I traded all my Canon gear in for an iPhone. You wouldn’t believe how much lighter my backpack is! I’ll be writing an article on the benefits of mirrorless over DSLR soon.
Gary, I applaud your decision and hope that you take great photos with your new setup. However, frankly, the iPhone is a terrible choice if you’re trying to go lightweight. Instead, I strongly recommend one of those spy cameras that comes inside a pen. Bonus — you’ll be able to carry a pen wherever you go.
I take all my pictures with an orange filter on the lens. This way, no matter what the weather, it always looks sunny out. This makes my indoor pictures look terrific too.
Elaine, orange is an amazing color, and I wish that all of my photos were like that. Instead, I accidentally seem to use a green filter for all my photos. A green filter! Can you believe it?
I can easily believe it, Spencer. A very good choice. All your magnificent dune photos will look so much better looking as if grass is growing on them. And imagine all the stars in your astro photos being green! Green stars are what we need more of! When I get tired of orange and you get tired of green, we can both try pink. ;)
Some advise please… I want to take a nice selfie with my DSLR but so far I have not had a great deal of luck doing it…. I just cant get around to the front of the camera quick enough. Any tips?
You could set the shutterspeed to really really slow (On most camera’s that is the S-mode. “S” for slow).
Or…. you could ask someone else to take the selfie for you.
Would it still count as a selfie then? Since it’s taken OF you but not BY you, it might be considered someplace in between the two which one might call “selfish”. If you hold a crab while posing it could be a shellfish. And if you take the resulting photo to sschool on Monday, Mrs. Schmirtze might call it Specter’s “Show and Tellfie Shellfish Selfie”.
I understand on new model DSLR’s they are going to configure the trigger so that you can shoot with your toes. That would probably help you with your selfie. This amazing new feature will provide a great reason for us all to get new gear!
The new DSLRs will wait until you BLINK and then fire. I mean, really, who wants to see catch lights in eyes anyway?
Spectre, I’ll echo what Michel said — get someone else to take your selfie for you.
If that’s not possible, Elaine’s suggestion to use your toes is a good thought. Or, if you put your camera on the self-timer mode and throw it into the air, that could work as well. Hope this helps!
Its an Iphone, it has touch screen unfortunatelly…. maybe i should contact apple and ask them to make me Iphone with buttons….