When I first started properly shooting and understanding the implications of digital photography I made a few notes of sources I'd used for some education and training. Sources such as websites, articles I'd read in magazines, books I'd purchased, tips and advice I was given and gear I thought I really "needed" to have which I didn't at all and eventually sold on.
Now a few years on there' still a few resources from my original list that I still like to revisit, reread, apply and make sure that I'm on the right path. There are hundreds if not thousands of excellent resources out there and I suppose if I can help even just one person on this photography road also by hand picking 10 various resources that I highly recommend you read or websites you look at, then I think it would give anyone thinking about this as a profession a real good start and grounding.
At the end of the day - there's definitely no substitute for practising, getting out and shooting and practising some more, but you know what, no-one knows everything about everything and there's a wealth of talent out there for us all to tap into, share, learn from, study and put into practise. This isn't an exhaustive list, it's not an official list but if I were starting out again knowing what I know now, it would be my top 10 resources / things to think about. So lets start the countdown, beginning, strangely enough at number 10.......!
10. Having the best gear aka "Lens Lust", "Camera rage" or that "Gadget gotta have"
We have all been there, and anyone who does say differently is a liar! We all want the best camera we can get, that can shoot 99Frames Per Second at ISO 25,000 with no noise and images perfectly exposed. But guess what, that shiny new camera you just bought will be old news by the time it's replacement comes out in a years time and you'll need to have the newer model again because it can shoot 110Frames PerSecond at ISO 50,000 and just make you an all round much better photographer won't it? Well sorry to spoil things but it won't make a great deal of difference if you are just starting out, it definitely won't be the difference between whether you will make it or not in the long run and it won't, despite what anyone may tell you, make an amazing difference to your images compared to say an older 4 year model.
I regularly shoot with a 7 year old, 12Megapixel Digital Camera which I picked up second hand off Ebay with very little usage. No-one and I do repeat no-one has ever said "that shot was clearly taken on an older digital camera".
My advice - don't worry so much about the latest 50Megapixel monster you could buy which will automatically do everything for you, look at a second hand investment in a decent camera body and spend that money you saved on a really good set of lenses. The lens ultimately is collecting all that lovely light and passing that onto your camera. Bad Lens or Bad light then it doesn't matter if you have spent 10k on that shiny new camera - the image will still be bad. Believe me, you will want to upgrade your camera body at some point, but get great glass now and I promise you, you will be using it far long after that, now old camera body, has been sold on.
9. Website resources
There really is an amazing array of talented people on the web, training resources both free and chargeable and communities - here's but a few
www.photoguild.org.uk - The Guild of Photographers - online community, mentoring, training, support and much much more - an invaluable resource for me personally.
http://readysteadypro.co.uk/ - Ready steady pro is hosted by the likable, honest and resourceful Michael Rammell who as well as running a photography business hosts regular podcast interviews with industry figures. All of this he does and offers free of charge so my advice would be too download some of the brilliant and insightful podcasts and give them a listen. Ready Steady Pro is at it's heart a resource for photographers who are perhaps well established amateurs looking for information and guidance on how best to turn pro. A superb resource of information.
www.creativelive.com - Online training which although doesn't focus 100percent on photography alone has some amazing courses and resources around the photography business. It's subscription based and you register and pay for the courses you need - but they represent excellent value for money in that you can download video segments, watch them in your own time, re-watch them where necessary and make all the notes you need too. A couple of courses I would highly recommend are that by Sal Cincotta - Master the business of photography. An amazing mix of business training, phycology and guidance on how to get clients, keep clients and keep your business fresh and exciting. There's nothing in this course that will teach you to take a "perfect photo" but if you can take a perfect photo but don't know how to then sell that - then what's the point (from a business perspective!)
http://neilvn.com/tangents/ - What Neil doesn't know about Flash photography you could probably write on the back of a very small post it note! His sharing of knowledge, explanations, demonstrations and amazing photos make this a website and resource I check back on again and again. Flash photography starting off can be quite daunting, I suggest you read through Neil's brilliant and helpful explanations.
Ok - that's enough for this week, next week parts 8, 7, and 6 will cover Books, Software and hardware - hope you enjoy.