Warning: Professional photographers do not read this

Actually I should probably extend that warning to accomplished amateurs.  This is not a blog about how to take good photos, it is post about the continual and never ending learning curve I am on to become an effective and purposeful humanitarian communicator.

I’ve always loved photography.  And until I started working with professionals I always thought I was kind of ok at it.  When I was given my first DSLR (a joint present from my self, my parents and Santa) at the age of 34 I was giddy with excitement.  That excitement lasted a good 30 minutes.  Then the fear set in.  What do all these buttons mean?  Why are there so many dials? What does that flashing red light in the viewfinder mean?  Of course it wasn’t all bad. I understood what the picture of the bin meant.  (Trashcan for my international friends)

A well-meaning relative advised me to just use the auto setting.  I mentally struck them off my Christmas card list and vowed in that moment to only shoot in manual.  Having no idea what this would actually entail I enrolled in a course for beginners at a local TAFE.  Scared does not begin to describe my emotions when I realised maths and physics were going to be involved.  Aperture and shutter speed and ISO and white balance and over and under exposure and and and!  I became a communicator so I would only ever have to write numbers and never have to add them up.  Now I had to understand how the size of a hole and the speed of something going in and out and the sensitivity of…


Yep I get it now.

So, anyway…

When I was living in South Korea I was warned about English pirates. These were people who would just come up to you and start talking to you in the hope of getting a free English lesson.  I hated the term and preferred to think of these people as friendly and keen students.  I am now a very friendly and keen student of photography and take every opportunity to hijack friends, colleagues and even my own staff of professional photographers to learn all I can from them.

In Ethiopia I learnt how to focus on a person’s eyes.  In Brisbane I learnt that if you position someone in front of a pole, in the photo it looks like it is growing out of their head. In Senegal I learnt how to use reflectors and diffusers.  In New Zealand I learnt the importance of shutter speed when dealing with moving subjects.  Today, in Melbourne I learnt that when battling the midday sun the flash comes in really handy.

Anyone got any more photography tips for me?



Filed under Emergency Communications, Training

4 responses to “Warning: Professional photographers do not read this

  1. Great post TanPenn!

    I picked up a useful tip whilst listening to one of the 12 podcast I’ve bookmarked. Back button focus, that’s when you use the AF button on the back of the camera to attain focus instead of the half shutter press. Google it for full explanation. It’s really just makes it easier to be more flexible in different situations.

  2. Strategically Blank

    Pro Tip: Take the lens cap off.
    That’s it. I’m done.

    • Ha ha yep that and make sure your batteries are charged. I arranged to look after a friend’s dogs to practice photographing moving (and adorable) subjects and both my batteries for my 7D were flat. Luckily I had my G12 as a back up so it wasn’t a total waste.

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