I often receive emails and comments from lovely people who say they love how my world seems like a fairytale. I’m always delighted to
Two Scarfs for Warmth - Photograph taken in the freezing cold this morning by Sasha Bell.
hear those sorts of comments, because it means I’ve managed to make something look special, even if it doesn’t always look special.
Earlier this morning however, I received a very sad email from a shanghai girl who has been following my photography for sometime now.
She told me about problems she’s had and how hard her life has been for her. She went on to say that her dream is to be a photojournalist and how difficult it is for her – she cannot even afford a camera.
If I’m having a difficult time, I don’t really talk about it, I like to sort my problems out quietly – but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t have my own problems and challenges.
I have yet to find somebody who hasn’t got their own problems and challenges, but because they don’t talk about them, I often think they don’t have them – but I realise now, my assumption is often incorrect.
I find things difficult and sometimes they feel impossible and I feel like giving up… so, after reading her email I wanted to reply to her, but her email address was invalid.
This is just a blog post with some thoughts in mind for her and anyone who is reading this…
How to Improve Your Photography with No Camera: What helps me…
These are some things I keep in mind and which often help me when I’m finding “life” hard… even if I don’t publicly mention it…
Here are a few quotes and thoughts
“Every body has the ability to reach their goal… the hard part is trusting that you have the ability, and accepting that you have the ability to get there, even though you can’t see the steps.”
“The harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph”
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”
Some other thoughts I keep in mind
- When you’re climbing a mountain, don’t look at the top – it’ll be far too daunting and scary. Look one step ahead – i.e. where you’re about to place your foot or hand. Rarely are there nice, even steps. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.
- There are always answers to our questions. You just have to ask the right question. This also applies to problems and solutions. If you haven’t found the answer, or the solution, you haven’t thought outside of the box enough.
These are some things I keep in mind – I have many others, but I felt these were the most important.
This shanghai girls passion is to be a photojournalist, and yet she can’t afford a camera. What a challenging goal. However, you can do so much, even without a camera…
Here are some things I have done and suggest doing as they have helped me a lot.
Tip #1 – Composition
First of all, for me the hardest part of photography is the composition.
Having never taken a course on photography I don’t know what you get taught with regard to composition. However I feel it is 50% of photography. i.e. very important.
The easiest way to learn angles, composition etc is to simply look at photography by ‘good’ photographers, professional photographers etc. Look at how they frame their subject; whether it’s a person, landscape, nature… the list is huge.
Learning composition can all be done without a camera.
Obviously you need to practice, as they say, “practice makes perfect” which I support hugely, however looking at other’s photography and studying composition is essentially “practice”.
The more you study and learn composition, the easier you’ll find photography when you actually pick up a camera.
Tip #2 – Processing
Another thing you can easily practice without a camera is processing. I have use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3.
I personally prefer Lightroom for photography. However Photoshop is also good and even other programs like Gimp (if you know Rosie Hardy, you’ll know she uses Gimp – which is free – to process).
You can easily practice techniques and styles of processing on photographs of celebrities, or friends photographs – anything really. You can easily practice converting to black and white, working with different colours and creating your own style.
There are also free websites like MorgueFile (www.morguefile.com) where you can download photographs (most are unedited) and practice on them.
Tip #3 – Technical Stuff
Before I really got hooked on photography I spent a lot of time browsing websites, which had tutorials on photography basics.
I highly recommend www.digital-photography-school.com – most of the tutorials are easy to understand – well presented and laid out. I scoured the whole website, top to bottom, reading everything I could so I was better equipped to handle a camera.
I originally had no idea what the shutter speed was, let alone aperture, ISO, white balance…! So I read all sorts of articles and tried to understand as best I could… then when I came to pick up the camera, I had more of an understanding.
Tip #4 – No substitute for practice
Now I know there’s no substitute for good old “hands on practice”. But if you’re in a position where you can’t yet afford a camera, there’s still a lot you can do – even if it isn’t what you really want to do… you’ll find in the long run it’ll really pay off.
Tip #5 – Expensive vs. Cheap(er)
I am very lucky to be able to photograph with the kit I have. However, I really believe that it is the photographer above the camera. If you handle a camera like it’s part of you, then even the cheapest DSLR will act like the most expensive one.
If you can only afford the cheapest camera in Canon’s range – that will definitely do. There is no substitute for a working camera.
Even if it takes 2yrs+ to save up for a basic camera, it is at least something you can do, and doing something always makes you feel better. It’s those tiny little steps, which can make your goal become a little bit closer.
If you just hope and wish, your goal will always seem out of reach and impossible.
All you really need is something to start you off… the first step is the most difficult step.
I hope this helps… and gives you a little more idea about how I have taught myself photography and all that goes with it.
- Olivia Bell
My cold hands... - Photograph taken in the freezing cold this morning by Sasha Bell.