Today I did something I haven’t done in a very, very long time. That is open a photo that I took with my old Sony Alpha A300 camera and 18-70mm kit lens. There’s actually a funny story about why I haven’t looked back to those photo’s, it’s because at the time, when I had the camera/lens setup, I was 100% convinced that the ONLY thing keeping my photo’s from being amazing was my equipment. Any time I looked at a photo that I didn’t quite like, I was so quick to say, “Well it’s my $600 camera, of course it isn’t as good as a pro photographer with their $3,000 camera and $7,000 lenses!”
I’m going to just come out and say it now, I was wrong. At the time (June 2011 to be exact) I was so focused on the fact that I had such seemingly “useless” camera gear compared to the top pros gear, that I lost focus on my composition and editing technique. I studied the actual mechanics of photography, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, you know, the “technical” stuff, but I didn’t study how important the overall composition is to a photo. I thought, “If my exposure and everything is right, then there is no reason my photos aren’t as good as the pros, other than the gear of course”.
And another incredibly important thing that I overlooked was my editing. I DID edit my photo’s, but I didn’t really do much. Keep in mind at the time I thought it helped a ton, but looking back it actually hurt my photos a lot of the time. I also had thousands and thousands of photos from each weekend that I felt compelled to edit each and every one, so quantity definitely on over quality there.
Let me show you what I mean:
Now over the past year obviously a lot has changed in terms of my photographic abilities. Now I look back and see all the “operator errors” and less of the “camera errors” that I saw at the time of these photos. I used my new found photography technique and composition skills incorporated into my improved editing skills to completely change the composition and appearance of the same photo, simply by applying the new skills I acquired through the past year.
Isn’t that pretty amazing? I just wanted to show you guys that your equipment isn’t the only thing that can hold your photos back from the next level. There are a thousands of little things you can do to decent photos to make them extraordinary, and I hope this shows you that. That being said, I still drool over the top of the line equipment, but unlike back in June 2011, now I know the difference between what better gear can do to my images, but also what better technique and skill can do. The best way to improve your photos is just keep shooting, keep learning, and stay hungry for incredible images.