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Thoughts on photography – from an amateur’s eyes

# -I thought I could take pro-level photos only if I have those pro-level gears.

Wrong. Cameras are just the tools to magnify the creative mind.

I’m not saying gears don’t matter and just take photos with whatever is the cheapest. But the training of minds must come before the acquiring of gears. Give any pro photographer a cheap point-and-shoot camera, and they can make interesting works all the same. Their creativity is not restrained by the level of equipment.

# -Don’t compliment a photographer by praising his camera.

Same rule goes with ‘don’t compliment a chef by praising his cookeries’, ‘don’t compliment a musician by praising his instrument’. It takes someone years practising his/her craft to reach such a level. Saying that they have got ‘a good camera’ is depreciative of their craftsmanship.

# -Sometimes seeing is more important than getting that picture.

It’s okay to let go of some shots. Unless you are hired as the photographer, you don’t need to occupy your time with taking a million pictures.
Say for example you are travelling to a different city with your spouse, it’s great to squeeze in your photography passion here and there, but don’t let it overtake the quality time you can spend with your significant other, or miss the stunning scenery before your eyes. Be present in the moment.

# -Buy a camera that you want to go out and shoot with everyday.

If you are buying your first camera, this will be the best advice I give you. Look for a camera that resonates something in you, that you just want to take it out everyday and fully utilise it to capture the things you see.
On the days when I didn’t bring my camera with me to work, I felt like some part is missing from my body. Even though I might not have a chance to take any pictures, I just miss having it in my backpack.
When hunting for a camera, don’t be fooled by all the brands selling their latest ‘most advanced’ product. Pick something that is visually appealing to you, fits within your budget, has a decent lens and sensor, and you feel comfortable carrying it around all day. My suggestion would be a mirrorless compact or interchangeable lens camera. Fujifilm X series are awesome if you haven’t tried it. I’m very lucky to own the X-T1, and I heard that the X100S is epic too.

# -iPhone is a good camera.

Or whatever smartphones you use.
Reason No.1. You carry it with you all day, even to toilets.
Reason No.2. It’s fixed focal length, meaning you can’t zoom, but have to move your feet to get the best composition.
Reason No.3. The ~40mm focal length is close to human eyes. Which means you get what you see in front of you, it trains your instinct to notice interesting moments and compose the photo with your eyes.
Reason No.4. Quick sharing to social media. Getting compliments/likes from friends is a great way to encourage you to take more pictures.

# -Pointing your camera at some random person’s face doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at street photography.

Debatable, I know. I’m an introverted shy person. I admire a lot of street photographers. But sometimes it makes me cringe to see someone blatantly thrusts their camera at people’s face and snaps a shot without any warning. That’s a little … intrusive.
I know it’s all about that “decisive moment”. But personally I’d like to take a slower approach, hang around the place long enough and then take the picture candidly. This is up to personalities I guess, some people are okay with it. But we need to be mindful whether our act is making others uncomfortable.

# -Print your photos.

Unlike the old film days, printing digital photographs are much easier and cheaper now.
Trust me, you will hardly revisit the photos you store in your hard drive.
Print your best photos out, frame them, put them in an album, stick them up on the wall to show off. It makes photography a lot more enjoyable when you have something tangible in your hands.

# -Don’t give up this hobby. It’s greatly rewarding.

I think the best way to enjoy photography as a hobby is to actually share it. Share the works that you are proud of on social media; take pictures of your friends and print them a copy. Photos are best when they can spark joy in somebody’s heart and put a smile on their face.

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