An Expensive Camera Won't Guarantee Good Pictures - Cramer Imaging - Quality Fine Art Photography
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An Expensive Camera Won't Guarantee Good Pictures

An Expensive Camera Won't Guarantee Good Pictures
When I decided I wanted to start taking a serious look into photography as a hobby, I eagerly shopped online for a high end consumer grade digital camera with SLR capabilities.  After it arrived in the mail, I couldn't wait to go on a shoot with it and see the amazing work I anticipated would flow from my camera like a river near the ocean.  I was in for a serious shock when I looked at my first photos from my new DSLR camera.  I was dismayed by what I saw and, when subsequent attempts yielded the same results, I became discouraged.

It took me a while to realize that the reason I was so disappointed was because I fell victim to one of the classic blunders of aspiring photographers: assuming that all I needed was a fancy new camera and I could shoot pictures as amazing as professional photographers.

The Beginning


Once you decide that photography is for you, shopping for your first camera can be downright fun or it can be seriously intimidating.  There are lots of terms which you may or may not understand in the features list of all the consumer grade and the professional grade cameras.  You may choose to research out exactly what those terms mean or you could choose to just get the best looking camera in your price range with as many accessories as someone will bundle in for you.  Neither method is necessarily a bad move.  I made the later choice myself.

Photograph of Cramer Imaging's first professional level DSLR camera gear including several lenses, a camera body, and a flash
These items depicted here were among the first DSLR camera gear I ordered online as part of a starter kit.

The Problem


It is at this point where most people fall victim to the common misconception that purchasing a fancy and expensive camera is all that is required.  Maybe there will be a lens or two on the acquisition list as well.  The energy after making such a huge purchase is high and so is the level of photo generation.  The crash and crushing disappointment comes when those pictures are reviewed at home not using the tiny preview screen of the camera.

Those initial photos are nothing special at all, or worse, they turned out far more terrible than anything out of a simple point-and-shoot camera.  The pictures might not be sharp and are certainly not worth writing home about nor posting on the internet.  You are left with some very difficult questions to answer: "What happened?  Why did this happen to me?  Did I buy the wrong camera and/or lens?  Is there another piece of magical camera gear to buy which would fix this?"

Cramer Imaging's wildlife photograph of suckling fawns and deer on a lake shore at Devil's Creek Reservior, Oneida, Idaho
Your first photos may look something like this photograph: nothing special at all despite your best efforts.
The answers to this string of questions may not be something that the novice photographer wants to hear.  No there is not a magical piece of equipment which can fix this for you now nor in the future.  No you probably did not purchase the wrong equipment.  The reason that this happened is simply because you assumed that all you needed was the look and the equipment in order to shoot high quality photographs.  Nothing is further from the truth.  There is more which you need it the form of education and practice.

It is a sad fact that nothing we want comes easy.  Nothing worth having comes free.  There is effort required and serious amateur or professional quality photography is no exception.  I learned this the hard way as have many before me.  My first DSLR photos, and yours, look the way they do because equipment is not the answer to scoring the kind of quality photographs you and I were hoping for.  If it was the answer, then everyone could and would be taking that level of photos and there would be no need for professional photographers at all.

The Solution


If you haven't given up on photography as a hobby, and you probably haven't if you are reading this article, then it is time to start your photography education.  The first thing that you need to do is to read your owner's manual and to learn your equipment inside and out.  You need to know what all those fancy buttons and controllers do so that you can properly control your camera out in the field.  This may take a while and is better achieved by field practice for more internalized lessons.

Landscape silky water spring with trees and rocks professionally photographed by Cramer Imaging near Alta, Wyoming
To get this shot, I had to know my gear and how best to manipulate the settings for the exposure I wanted.
The second thing to do is to learn basic rules of photography composition.  There are plenty of websites out there which will teach you about the rule of thirds, simplicity, the golden mean, and other compositional techniques.  Without these lessons and practice with them, your photography will continue to disappoint you.  Photo composition is learned by experience.  Only practice with your camera will help you to develop the eye you will need for epic or professional level work.

Quality natural pink peach blossom on a branch professionally photographed by Cramer Imaging in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Basic composition is an important part of taking good pictures.  Book learning is not enough for this skill.
Patience and practice will be required as the amazing photos you desire will be few and far between at first.  The more photos you take, the more regularly you will find your photography quality increase.  I have gone on many a shoot where the photos I took did not meet my current standards where a few months ago such pictures would have dazzled me that I took.  As you continue to grow in your photography skill, your photos will come to meet the quality level you started out dreaming about with greater and greater frequency.

Conclusion


If photography is your dream and your passion, then you will, of course, want to purchase the best camera gear and accessories you can.  Just remember to temper your expectations of what your first photos will look like.  If you can expect that you have much to learn about your new toy, you will not experience the heartache of disappointing first photographs and feeling you wasted your investment money.  Photography may be something you will not give up on yet.  The rewards of your patience, learning, and practice will be slow but much greater than you imagined.  We look forward to seeing your work.