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Being a photographer, as an amateur or for a living, can be highly enjoyable. It is one of those pursuits where you are able to create something and have a record of it for as long as you want to. Indeed, if you can make some money out of it, photography can be one of the most enjoyable things in the world. There are many beneficial aspects to it as a career and as a hobby.
For one thing, there is the opportunity to make really good money if you are a talented enough photographer. For organizations and groups who hire a photographer – modelling agencies, advertising companies and even families with a special occasion on the horizon, a good photographer is worth paying top dollar.
If you do make a living from photography, the chances are that you will also get to travel and see some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Admittedly, you'll see a lot of them through a viewfinder and this leaves less time to really appreciate them, but on your down time you can see the best of the world.
And there is also the advantage for an amateur that if you are taking photographs, you do not have to spend as much time on the other side of the camera with other people taking photographs of you. If you are shy, this is certainly good news, and it is also reassuring if you just aren't photogenic. It beats having to smile and pose, too.
So, are you proud to be a photographer?
Unless you have been hiding in a cave somewhere, you are probably familiar with Photoshop to at least some extent. Even if you have not used it, you will have seen photos that have been manipulated using this program, which has become a feature of many websites in recent years. The basic idea of Photoshop is that it can be used to enhance or add to a real photo.
For example, if a picture has been taken which, on closer inspection, carries traces of something that the viewer “should not see” - for example, blotches on the face of someone in the photo, or a stain on the carpet – the use of Photoshop can remove that undesired intruder. Similarly, Photoshop can be used to add things such as color or light.
A more esoteric use of Photoshop can be seen on countless sites around the Internet where photographs are deliberately and obviously manipulated for (usually) comedic effect. Whether it is putting someone else's head on the body of an animal (or another person), placing a person against a background with comic potential or creating the impression that someone is a hundred feet tall, this is a popular pastime.
You may love or hate Photoshop. Some people will use it to enhance their own photographs before putting them on social networking sites, and create the impression that they are more attractive than they really are. This may not have been the initial purpose of the program, but people will use it how they wish.
Color photography was actually invented a lot longer ago than most people believe – indeed, there were experimental color shots taken as long ago as the 19th century. However, the use of color photography was hugely uncommon until the 1960s, and it was another few decades after that before newspapers printed color shots with any kind of regularity.
This – combined with the presence of old-fashioned black and white movies – gives an impression of age and for some people an impression of depth to photographs taken these days using black and white film or filters. Many of the iconic photographs of all time, taken as they were in the early half of the 20th century, are known to us in black and white.
One of the most famous images – the assassination of President John F Kennedy, an incident that took place in 1963 – happened after color photography was introduced, but before it was widespread and before color photographs could be widely reproduced. Hence, it is an incident we “remember” in black and white.
Photographs of the first Moon Landing do exist in color, but the most iconic – of Neil Armstrong descending the ladder onto the Moon's surface – is also in black and white. Whether it is for reasons of historic grandeur, or because of the questions left unasked, many people even in this age of color photography still like to use black and white for more artistic shots.
Even in the light of all the changes that have taken place over the years, allowing us to take more photographs in a shorter space of time and to publish them within seconds, the fact is that sometimes less is more. You will not become a good photographer by taking a lot of photographs. You will never win the Tour de France on a bicycle with training wheels.
What this means for amateur photographers is that, just because it is easier to take a photograph these days, it does not mean that you can replace quality with quantity. It is better to critically survey your photographs, delete the ones that don't pass muster, and keep in mind what you got wrong initially and how you can get it right next time.
You see, if you just snap away in the hope of getting the right shot, you are as likely to get twenty shots of which maybe five will be good enough to be considered “decent”. If, on the other hand, you take the time to get it right, you can get five photos of which all are impressive. Making the effort to get the shot right gives the shot a sense of occasion.
Photography is not easy, and anyone who attempts to claim otherwise is being either naïve or ignorant. Getting the right shot makes demands of a photographer, and the sooner you learn to meet those demands, the easier you will find it as time goes on.
There are many people who want to become professional photographers, and there is plenty of reason why they would. If you are a highly sought-after photographer, then you can get paid a lot of money to travel the world taking photographs of stunning locations, beautiful people and remarkable occasions. So is it worth getting a qualification in photography?
The answer to this question, frustratingly, is “it might be”. When you get down to it, there are not so many companies or agencies who will demand that you have a certificate to prove you can take photographs. The best way to document a talent for photography is by showing the photographs that you have taken. That said, doing a photography course may help in other ways.
It cannot be denied that, if you take a course in photography that is taught by a professional who has worked worldwide, you should learn a lot from them and may also be able to make contacts in the business. There is a major difference between being able to take impressive photographs, and being able to get the perfect shot when you are on the clock and conditions are being unkind.
It is not so much the certificate that will be given to you on graduation that will be important, but the things that you learn during the course. There are all sorts of tricks that can make a photograph look better, and make a good photograph great. Informing yourself about these is worth the effort.