A friend recently contacted me based on a picture she saw on my Facebook feed and asked if I could give her some advice on buying a camera. It is not a simple matter as a mistake can cost you dearly. So before sending her off to my preferred camera dealer we sat down to look at what genre of photography interested her. We also discussed what type of pictures she wanted to take.
It can be tricky starting as a first-timer, it helps to know your interests before heading off to purchase a camera. A tip would be to take a few pictures with your camera phone and analyse them. This helps indicate what type of photography inspires you.
On your next walk try your hand at street photography, capture life as it happens. Look for candid moments, a dog walking, people strolling through a park, a cat on a wall or even an unusual doorway. It’s a good deal of fun because it is unplanned. Look for a magnificent sunset or a cloud formation. Get permission from people if you are going in close and they will feature in your photo.
We ruled out food photography other than tagging at local restaurants as that is a very specialised area.
She was interested in portrait photography as she has a wide circle of friends with children. Portrait work allows you to capture the personality and experiment. Start with close friends and family as they will be more relaxed. As will you be. Try different backdrops and formats, they add to the picture.
We then discussed landscape photography. If you like to travel this is a great way to record the trip. If you share pictures on social media you can transport followers and give them a sense of what you felt. The challenge here is that elements are not always on your side. Lighting and the weather may work against you but that adds to the fun. A wide-angle lens is essential to landscape work. I favour a wide-angle zoom as they are very versatile. I use an 18-55 mm kit lens. The wide-angle allows you to capture the sprawling vistas of South Africa.
You can even start with landscapes in local parks to get the feeling of composition, lighting and editing.
Documentary photography allows one to provide an accurate and straightforward representation of places, objects, events and people. It is not to be confused with photojournalism or street photography. Photojournalism concentrates on breaking news and newsworthy events. This is generally specialised work done by professionals.
Wildlife photography is a genre often practised by many landscape photographers as a part of a travel experience. Depending on particular interests one would require longer focal length lenses especially if photographing birds. This would be backed up with a large bag to accommodate additional lenses and equipment as well as a tripod. You may need a degree of fieldcraft skills to assist in the identification of various species.
Specialist genres include medical, food, advertising, aviation, wedding and industrial to name a few. We narrowed down her interest to be landscapes and wildlife. The following article will cover the selection of a camera to start the journey.