Why a Manual Focus Lens Will Make You a Better Photographer

There’s a lot of articles out there about the pros and cons of using manual focus lenses for your photography, with everyone trying to explain what the benefits are to shooting in manual, and the theory that taking pictures with a manual lens heightens creativity. Great photographers for National Geographic, Time, Magnum, and many others are using not only manual focus lenses, but also film cameras. Cameras of 35mm, 6×6, or even large format cameras (for the most patient photographers) are still playing a major qualitative role among professionals in the era of Instagram and iPhone photography.

In the 1998 film Pecker, we see a young and talented photographer taking satirical pictures of his family, friends, and city. He steals film so he can take as many photos as he wants and is manually focusing his cheap ‘60s Canonet in no time. There’s a funny scene in the movie where Pecker receives a new, autofocus camera as a gift, but he contemptuously puts it aside.

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“No Cameras Allowed” to Showcase Unseen Rock Concert Photographs from the 80’s

Images from “No Cameras Allowed” Kickstarter Page

Concert goers and rock photography fans: here’s something right up your alley, especially if you’ve sneaked in some gear in one too many “no camera” concerts and emerged unscathed, with images intact to tell the tale. Writer, filmmaker, and author Julian David Stone seeks to publish a coffee table book of never-before-seen photos from his “career as an outlaw rock and roll photographer” in the 1980’s. He’s looking into getting it crowd-funded, if that’s a project you’re keen to support.

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Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Do as a Photographer is Put the Camera Down

I’ve had this theory in my mind for a really long time: a photographer should shoot less and instead, just concentrate on being more and more human. Now think about that, and consider carefully the way that you go about shooting every single day. Lots of photographers have absolutely no issues shooting well over 1,000 images at any given day and culling through them later on. Me personally though, I do. Lots of my colleagues never have issues, but I hate it. It just means that I see repetition after repetition and I’m never actually in the moment. The more time that I generally spend behind the camera, the less connected I sometimes feel to the moment or my subject. I’ve had this idea since 2014 after I reported on a special quote from actress Keira Knightley that compares film photographers to digital photographers.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Using Gels as a Strobist Photographer

Gels are bound to scare away most portrait photographers and strobists simply because they don’t understand how to really use them. But one of the coolest things that you can do as a photographer is learn how to use gels to tell a different story in your portraits and overall in your photography. You see, gels color the light output of your flash which is typically balanced to Daylight and therefore is very cool. But once you understand that you can make that light all sorts of various colors, you’ll get how awesome it can be to use gels.

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Boosting Your Creativity as a Photographer Through Self Care

As a creative, I’ve grown to be protective of my ability to actually be creative. Did you know the human mind can experience decision fatigue? Some sources cite that the average adult makes around 35,000 decisions a day. This means at some point during the day we can literally grow weary of making decisions that serve us well. Often ordering a coffee in the morning uses up dozens of those decisions. In fact, most of us use almost 300 decisions just around food. Even more often we make our worst decisions at night, whether it is with wine, ice cream, snacks, etc. It is useful to establish habits that reserve as many decisions as possible to be used on the important creative decisions we will make as artists.

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Developing Blog Content as a Photographer: The Ins and Outs

If you’re a professional, employable photographer then you obviously understand the reasons for having a business related blog. I’m not talking about just having a Tumblr or something like that. Lots of photographers tend to use Instagram and say that’s their blog, but blogging has a whole lot more value than that. If you have one, you realize that value already and can probably skip over some of the content here. But if you don’t have one, you’re probably a photographer with no serious intentions with their images. And that’s fine; but for the rest of us…

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Please Stop Calling Yourself an Amateur Photographer

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not really an amateur photographer–you’re probably actually a hobbyist. If you’re a professional photographer, than most of your taxable income comes from photography. If you’re a semi-pro photographer, then you make taxable income from your photography. But if you’re an amateur, the proper definition is simply doing something for pure pleasure and not in the pursuit of money. And that’s absolutely correct, but the connotation of it has more to do with your skill level. Many of you reading this have most likely been shooting for years and the majority of you probably make some sort of taxable income off of your photography. So you’ve learned step 1 about this industry: that sometimes it doesn’t have a single thing to do with your skill level.

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Before You Build A Photographic Portfolio, Figure Out Your Photographic Identity

Let’s get something absolutely out of the way here: your Instagram page isn’t necessarily your portfolio. A photographic portfolio is a body of work that helps let others know what kind of photographer you are. It’s a product you’re capable of delivering. For example, Toyota’s portfolio includes the Camry and their other cars. Peter Hurley’s portfolio includes headshots. Annie Leibovitz’s portfolio has portraits and editorial work. These are the products that we know they’re capable of producing. And in the same way, a photographer needs to tightly curate that portfolio, specialize (despite what some may tell you not to do, and they’re dead wrong), and put forward images and services that really make them standout from the rest.

But before you even go about doing this, you’ll need to figure out your photographic identity.

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