Diving into Photography

I’ve been approached several times by people who are just setting their foot into photography, those who want to polish their skills, and those who just need to take decent shots of their everyday lives. Most of the time their questions revolve around what camera I use, which lenses they should get and other technical questions. So today, I’m writing to all of those people.

Sunset in Kigamboni, Dar Es Salaam

Sunset in Kigamboni, Dar Es Salaam

I started taking photography seriously when I started to travel. There were the landscapes, people, food and the general adventure that I wanted to capture for my own memories. I found the small point and shoot camera’s limited, I couldn’t get ‘blurred’ (it was fascinating for me at first) backgrounds like the professionals were doing, my photos looked pixelated when I zoomed in, and the colors were never right. On a small budget I bought the Canon 400d with the 18-55mm kit lens. I soon realized that owning a dslr camera was not enough! I needed to know more about light, composition, HOW my camera works, what shutter speed does to my images, what on earth aperture was, and why the sun was blowing out my images.

Fashion Shoot for An-Nisa

Fashion Shoot for An-Nisa

I purchased some books, from the most basic ‘photography for dummies’ to some more complex ones on light, composition and story telling from the masters of photography. Books allowed me to ‘understand’ steadily what the functions of my camera were but also story telling and creating powerful images that mattered. I set lessons for myself to test and get comfortable with my camera but also to challenge what I was reading in books to create my own images. The Internet has now become a great resource for anyone setting their foot into photography, but I do feel that there is some sort of ‘pressure’ and an inclination to constantly compare your images to others. Having a book that teaches you the fundamentals removes that and you can concentrate on your work and appreciate how you can improve yourself.

Flipping Burgers, The Bohra Community

Flipping Burgers, The Bohra Community

Practice, Practice, Practice. There is probably nothing else that will make you a better photographer. Take photos of your family, your pets, your house, your car, your shoes, your streets, and your food. Take photos of things that make you happy. Take one photo a day and have a long-term photo project.

Carrot Halwa, Comfort Food

Carrot Halwa, Comfort Food

Find your style! It took me sometime until I realized that I appreciated and was inclined to creating images that told a story in a discreet, documentary style. I wanted to capture the beauty of the everyday, the mundane without being noticed.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what your style is yet. What do you enjoy shooting? Is it weddings? Is it portraits? Is it streets? Is it babies? Try them all out to begin with; your heart will settle when you’ve found your niche.

Most importantly, don’t get diseased with buying equipment. At the end of the day, you can produce amazing images with just your iPhone. Get your fundamental understanding of visual story telling, perfect how your camera works (this could even mean shooting on auto) and let the ‘camera you have, be your best camera’!