Gold Coast Photography Courses.

It's not the camera - it's your knowledge

I'm Paul. My abbreviated history in the world of Photography.

Now, this was before digital cameras were even thought of. There was no internet. Only large corporations had a computer.

Film was used in those days…..developing and printing was expensive. We had “darkrooms” where we would lock ourselves away (and get poisoned by the chemicals) to produce a black a white image that had tonal range - from one shade lighter than pure black, to one shade darker than pure white. (Do you understand the importance of this?)

I joined short courses and enrolled in an “Associate Diploma in Art - majoring in Photography’, but I wasn’t learning what I wanted to know. Yes, there was some photography involved - but it was an ‘Art History’ course. If I wanted to learn History, I would have studied it at school…

I was learning stuff, but it wasn’t the ‘nuts and bolts’ that I needed to know. Or if it was, I couldn’t fully understand it. (Sound familiar?)

So I spent many many hours studying the principles of light, exposure, and the relationships between Apertures, Shutters, ASA (now ISO), and camera metering methods. Because they were complex topics I also developed ways to remember how these functions interrelated.

The more I learnt and understood, the more I realised that I wanted to be a 'Professional Photographer'

However, I was told by the 'experts' that my camera was not good enough - that if I wanted to be professional, I needed a “Medium Format’ camera. The film from a medium format camera can be 6 x 4.5cm or 6 x 6 cm. The film for the Olympus is 36mm x 24mm.

So I purchased a medium format Mamiya C330 twin-lens reflex camera with two sets of interchangeable lenses. It was completely Manual - even the shutter had to be ’cocked’ before I could take a picture. It used '120' film, giving 12 images per roll of film. The Olympus could use 12, 24 and 36 exposure film

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With my understanding and knowledge of light, metering, camera functions and armed with a medium format camera, I did my first ‘real’ model shoot at Merewether Beach in Newcastle.

In the darkroom, I produced Black & White pints to be proud of. The model was ecstatic with the results. Her mother was ‘over the moon’ and wanted copies for everyone. Success!!

Next step was to connect with the top Model Agency in Newcastle. Appointment made, photos in a folder, wearing the best suit I had available, polished shoes, and in I went.

To my surprise, the head of the agency was a girl (young woman?) I had often seen when socialising (drinking at Fanny's night club) and admired (from a distance) because of her style and aura.

I proudly showed her my images. That was when it all fell apart…….Now, realise, this was quite a while ago - before ‘political correctness’, before being afraid to say something that may offend someone, even if it was for the recipient's benefit. She sat there and picked all my images to pieces - one-by-one - each comment cut deeper. Her advice was to keep practicing and come back another time.

I can still recall the conversation like it was yesterday, and the gut-wrenching disappointment I felt at the time. But eventually I really appreciated her honest feedback and I still say ‘Thank You’ to her (mentally) very often.

What I learned from that experience is that no-one really cares what camera you use (unless they are another photographer). And it is EXPECTED that you fully understand the camera’s functions, lenses, light and all the other bits that go together to use your camera. After all, you are a photographer, aren’t you?

What IS important is the final image - how, you, as the photographer put all elements together to create an image that you are proud of, and/or meets your client's needs. (They may not be the same).

Has all this changed with the digital revolution? NO. It just means it’s easier to produce masses of mediocre boring photos. The fundamentals still apply, its just easier now. But its also harder to compete, because now ‘everyone is a photographer’.

So - you may be more creative than me - I hope you are. But I have are more knowledge and experience than you.

So use your creativity, and learn from me, and you will produce outstanding images.

I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you and helping you become the photographer you want to be.