Just got a camera? Been put in charge of media for your company and have no idea where to start? Wanting to pursue a new hobby? Either way — awesome. We love video! But we wanted to offer some advice for beginner photographers and videographers who might be a little green or feel in over their head. Here are seven things YOU NEED TO STOP BELIEVING. Right now.
1. You can’t grow or improve if you have cheap equipment.
It’s often said, “The best camera is the one you have on you.” We think that’s a really polite way of saying that the nicest camera in the world means nothing if you can’t use it properly. There’s a whole culture of iPhoneographers (phone companies are putting out phones with 13MP front cameras for nicer selfies.) out there who achieve beautiful videos and photos with the tiny rectangle they keep in their pocket — you can learn far more through trial and error on a crappy piece of equipment that forces you to make the most of what you have to work with than you can through just picking up an expensive DSLR and thinking that makes you the next big thing.
2.A good shot will make crappy content better.
There are plenty of amazing pieces of work out there shot on low-end cameras and edited with inexpensive equipment. On the contrary, there are visually stunning things that, quite frankly, start and stop there. That’s why Tree of Life wasn’t nominated Best Picture. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re capturing something worthwhile, something people will care about and the project actually makes sense.
3. You don’t need a tripod.
Tripods are one of the few things you should actually spend a couple bucks on off the bat (and seriously, a couple bucks). Why? Because no matter who you are, your hands are not as steady as you think they are. And tiny little shakes (which look way worse up close) are the easiest way to totally take away from the quality of your project. There’s simply no substitute for a tripod that can easily handle the weight of your gear and give you ultra-smooth movements.
4. Throwing a filter on will help.
Hey, you know what would make that crappy photo look better? Throwing some faux film grain on top of it, amirite? Thanks, Instagram, for teaching a generation of shutterbugs that sepia makes something high quality. Learn to use Photoshop, and back away from the Filter menu and instead turn your attention the Adjustments menu. The only way to learn these things is to play around (and YouTube tutorials of course).
5. DIY is cheesy.
Your high school art teacher might have shown you how to use flashlights and papers to bounce flash or even how to make your own green screen, but that stuff’s child’s play, right? Yeah, no. You can actually achieve real quality through these DIY methods if you just learn how to do it right. There’s nothing laughable about a low budget.
6. When in doubt, auto-focus.
Once you actually plunk down the dough on that high-end camera, it’s tempting to give into intimidation and just auto-focus everything. First of all, that’s basically your camera giving you a fish instead of teaching you how to fish — you know, that whole thing. Learning is an important part of the process, and if you start off depending on auto-focus, it will be a harder habit to break. Secondly, like all technology, it’s not perfect. Once you develop instincts for focusing, you’ll find it looks far better than auto-focus ever could. Nothing like that “human touch!”
7. Software is everything (aka “Fix it in post!”)
You can take thousands of photos in a night and shoot hours of footage and make it look pretty decent with the help of software. But it will make the post-production process so much easier if you just pay more attention to what you’re actually shooting. If you have more forethought in the shooting process, it will make editing far more efficient.