Steven Brokaw Photography

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What Type of Photographer Are You

Occasionally, a friend or business colleague will ask me what type of camera they should buy or what accessory they should invest in. This is a good question that I could talk on all day. I always tell them, a) I’m a Nikon shooter, so my answers are bias, b) I’m not a professional, so you get the advice you pay for, and c) “What type of photographer are you”?

The last point is absolutely the most important component to consider. Knowing what type of photographer you are, or more importantly, what do you want to do with your photography will HIGHLY influence your buying decision. I have found there are 4 types of photographers, which will influence the type of kit they should consider. Here we go!

The Social Mediaite – OK, I made that up, but this photographer is mainly focused on capturing the moment. This may be a photo of a friend during a dinner out, a party, a bar scene, etc. A social mediaite is not particularly interested in composition, perfect lighting, or general post processing. This type of photographer is more interested in keeping a record of an event or moment to share or post online whether on Facebook, Twitter, on a blog or sending it via email.

For this type of photographer a good smartphone camera is the way to go. Many smartphones have good cameras, and they are complimented with a large array of camera apps. Except for your phone and apps no additional accessories are required. Bottomline, get a great smartphone camera. Personally, I use my IPhone when I take this type of photo.

The Casual Shooter – This type of photographer is interested in taking a wide range of images, and generally wants good output. Whether it is a photo of their pet, a vacation, family, an event, etc. the concept of quality starts kicking in. However, there is no intention of spending lots of money or getting over their head with features or accessories they will never use. This type of photographer also wants something they can carry in their pocket, purse, backpack, etc. For this type of photographer a point-and-shoot camera is the way to go. Today there are some GREAT point-and-shoot cameras in all price ranges with a wide range of features including video. I find the choices are crazy and there are many different manufactures from the 2 big, Nikon & Canon to Panasonic, Sony, etc. etc. A great feature with P&S cameras is that you can use full auto or start to experiment in scene settings or settings such as aperture priority, speed priority, and other camera options.

The main difference in a casual shooter versus the social mediaite is you need to start considering post processing or at minimum an off camera storage. Most people simply dump their images into their computer and use either the computer’s supplied post processing software or a freebie like Google’s Picasa. At this stage be careful, don’t overbuy. Get yourself a good point and shoot and fire away.

Photography Is Becoming an Obsession – type shooter. Like many hobbies or pursuits, photography can become addicting. And once she has you hooked she can be a bitch. We are now talking about someone who wants to take photographs for the art itself, or wants to take their basic photography to the next level. This type shooter is interested in photography and is willing in learning or knows about the principles of photography. They either know or will learn about composition, lighting, shadows, color caste, etc. They either had a camera before, have a P&S, or want to upgrade what they currently have. This level covers everything from those just making the move into an obsession all the way to advance amateurs.

We are now entering the realm of the digital single lens reflex camera. The DSLR. The kings in the realm are Nikon & Canon. There are several other brands of DSLR, but most photographers I know use either a Nikon or Canon. As I mentioned I am a Nikon shooter.

The advantage of the DSLR is flexibility & options available. Flexibility in controls, accessories and most importantly lenses (which can be the most expensive component of the DSLR stage). I’ve found that once you get serious about photography you need to get serious about your kit. Ultimately a great photographer can take a great shot with a low end camera, but for most of us the flexibility of the DSLR gives us the freedom to expand our photos.

From my experience there are 5 disadvantages to DSLR’s for those just advancing to this level. They are: 1) getting more camera / lenses than what you really need, 2) the cost ($1,000 minimum on average), 3) not as portable, 4) getting locked into one camera system, and 5) post processing is a key ingredient. You need to take all 5 of these into consideration BEFORE you make the move to DSLR’s.

Bottomline, if photography is or is becoming an obsession then the DSLR is the only way to go.

Finally, The Pro. Note: if you are a pro you wouldn’t be the type of person asking for my advice. However, for the rest of us Pros are photographers that do it for a living, or partial living. DSLRs rule supreme for pros, although they all carry a point and shoot or camera phone as well for immediacy. Some might even be seen with medium format cameras! In almost all cases a professional photographer is aware of their skills, knows about the factors that make a good image, know their market and have the kit. Lots of photographers think simply because they have a DSLR, fancy lenses and accessories that they are pros, but don’t fool yourself. Simply having a DSLR doesn’t make a photographer a pro.
In my experience the professional photographers that I know have extremely good equipment, is the knowledge of what the client wants, a good sense of business, excellent workflow, and a track record. Bottomline, in I think a good professional photographer is as good on the business side as they are on the photography side.

Bottomline, whatever type of photographer you are, just get out there and shoot. Before you know it, you’ll be hooked.

Underground Catacomb Photoshoot

Hobby & McNally Flash Bus Tour 2011