The Photo Journey Begins / by Paul Lentz

I would like to share with you my journey becoming a photographer. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of resources out there and a lot of photo education sites and blogs. I want to add one more. I do this mostly because a lot of sites are run by photographers that have been doing this professionally for a while. They may have forgotten what it’s like to start fresh and navigate the waters. 

So I started several years ago with the idea that I wanted a nice camera so I could take better pictures than with my phone or some point and shoot. When I initially had this, phone cameras were good but not great. I also had the idea that I just wanted to create my own art. I love the idea of hanging up pictures on my wall and being able to say they were mine. I still love that idea and when I look around my house, I can say that now. I also seem to have a poor memory and when I see old pictures, I immediately get brought back to the moment that it happened. I love that fact with pictures. So this brings up a good point, shoot pictures or live in the moment? Well, a lot of people go on vacation or trips and spend the whole time trying to take pictures instead of just enjoying themselves. This is personal preference. One should probably just take everything in moderation and do both. Live in the moment, enjoy the location, and try to capture a few memories. Since coming up with this way of thinking, I have slowed down the amount of pictures I take, but I also know that I almost forget being someplace without seeing pictures later. My goal is to balance this as much as possible. 

Another thing that has happened to me, is that I had a tendency to travel and take pictures of everything pretty that I could see. I also tried to do this with family in tow and it didn’t always work out. I either didn’t spend enough time capturing the picture, ended up at places during the worst part of the day, or didn’t spend enough time with family. Now I try to visit places with the specific intent to create photographers or just to visit. I like going places now by myself because I can take the extra time to enjoy a scene, think about composition, and take the required time to create a good picture. When I am with family, I consider myself more in ‘snapshot’ mode where I take pictures but am not looking to make some large print with them. 

I went back and forth for a time on the snapshot versus photograph debate. It doesn’t really matter what you call what, great pictures are great pictures. However, for just normal conversation, I consider a snapshot something that I pulled my phone out, captured, and didn’t think much about. A photograph is something I thought about and took extra time to create. I also might spend a lot more time in post processing with a photograph. So I had this idea that my phone would be for snapshots and my DSLR would before photographs. I also had a period where I would shoot snapshots in JPEG and ‘real’ photos would be shot only in RAW. I think I’ve come to the point where I always shot raw on my main camera and usually shot snapshots on whatever I have if that’s what I have on me. I tend to leave the bigger camera at home unless I have a specific purpose for it. I have captured some great images on my phone. I still like to spend some time tweaking even phone shots with a little post-processing. 

I have gone through many other debates and discoveries on this journey from I just want a nice camera to where I am now and I will share as many of those as I can think of here.