My ‘unprofessional’ Opinion


As I write this, sipping on some mala(fermented milk) and hearing that impossibly long eTv advert that lasts an eternity(possibly longer than the program it comes in between), but that isn’t what I want to talk about today. I have had this post brewing inside of me for a while and I guess it’s about time I wrote it.

Most who know me know I have been shooting for about 2 years or so only. This makes me a rookie and one with a lot to learn for myself in photography. I look forward to 8 years from now after a decade of photography because I can only imagine what I shall be shooting then. Trust me I have no intention of slowing down at all. Now, I kinda get a number of people asking me how it all started and what I do to get kinda cool photos that are on this here blog. I even get the most annoying question I think, to any photographer… “Wow, your photos are so nice, what software do you use to make them like this? Can I use it to make cool photos like these?” Now, before you think I’m getting all elitist on y’all, let me explain. I have no problem with the gathering of information but I have a problem with the reason you gather the information.

“pause…”

I understand that we all have questions while starting anything out. What do I use? What do I do? Where do we go? Many many questions and it can get overwhelming. First logical thing is to ask the next guy…”What do I do with this?” I do think there is a danger to that though. Now this is by no means my ‘professional’ advice but..I do think photography, like any other art, is about discovery, experimentation. If you lose that right from the get go..what do you have? If you love the art so much, all you need is the manual(to know what button does what)…a book(or e-book) on digital photography and a willingness to spend many hours honing your craft. Do this & I believe you shall be ok, for real.

A few of the mistakes we make;

We talk way too much and do way too little.

I’m sure you know that guys who’s all talk and no action…I know one dude like that, me, well…sometimes at least. We talk about our plans and about shoots we are planning and cameras we want to buy and forget the most important thing about photography, photographing! If you find yourself yapping more than shooting, it’s time to stop the yap and better your craft.

Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. – Elliott Erwitt

We look at others way too much.

We are the generation of photographers who have to be bloggers and digital artists and creative designers and more. It seems like we have to do everything. Also we spend way too much time online getting ‘inspired’ and beating ourselves down too much in comparison. We forget one crucial thing, they have done their time. They photographed & photographed and minimized the amount of crap they shoot. We shall shoot better if we understand this and then keep doing our time we may be the ones being looked at this way next time someone is online.

We want the glory for way too little sweat.

I realized that the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is not a cliché by any means. No work means you stay at the same spot. Do your time and shoot! shoot! shoot! This should not be hard if you do love photography as much as you claim to. If you can, shoot a well thought out photo (just one) every day. You shall soon realize that the photo that amazes you gets better each time. The importance of this can’t be stressed enough…shoot, daily. If you don’t grow, ask me.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst. Henri Cartier-Bresson

We complain about our tools way too much.

If you have a job to get done, you get it done, no matter the process. I know entry level cameras demand more work than the bigger machines and because we are lazy, we want a camera that does the thinking & composing for us. If you want to shoot, shoot. Don’t bother about quality of the photography, worry about content, quality is not your concern (unless you are getting paid), content is. Stop complaining, get off your butt and shoot.

You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper. – William Albert Allard

We ask for money way too early.

‘I can see faces cringe’. Don’t ask for money for photography unless you know without a shadow of a doubt that you know what you are doing. There are implications to everything we do you know. If you say you can do something you can’t, you are a conman. Take time to get good first. Tag along on a few shoots with friends(for free) to understand what it takes to do some shoots, develop your eye, the way you see things and that shall make you money in the future, not just yet. Forget money, shoot because you love photography.

It takes time to be good at anything, the only question is, are you willing to put in the time it takes to get good? If you are, welcome to this ride. It’s a long frustrating road at times full of people who ask “All that money? For pictures…?” so you better be ready. But nothing beats the satisfaction of looking at a photograph you got and approve and know that it’s exactly how you thought it’d come out…nothing beats that feeling.

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy

Allow me to share a few photos from different photographers that keep me going, thinking “Till I get a shot like that, I ain’t sleeping without shooting…enjoy!!

‘Great wall’ by Trey Ratcliff (StuckIncustoms.com)

‘Let’s get out of here’ by Dave Hill (davehillphoto.com) from his ‘Adventure series’

Michelle Williams alter ego by Derek Blanks (dblanks.com)

‘The Dark Hedges’ by Pawel Klarecki

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20 thoughts on “My ‘unprofessional’ Opinion

  1. Hi Mutua
    This is such a true statement sort of.
    love what you do and hopefully somewhere down the track someone somewhere (although Im still looking and waiting ) notices your work, I have been shooting for over 8 years in digital in all sorts of weather, light, handheld and tripod I have been lucky to see over 50% of the world and have had film and digital cameras, I worked out how to use lightroom and Photoshop by trial and error along with help from others sometimes, the only thing I would think is that no matter what we should all help each other, I am more than willing to help anyone with a question as I alway have been, sometimes we just need a hand over that hurdle, I for one want to reach out and say grab hold and I will help you over.

    I hope we as photographers all feel that there is someone willing to help when needed.

    PS: I loved ‘The Dark Hedges’ by Pawel Klarecki

  2. Did you just say ‘crap’? and ‘butt’? I’m telling your mother!!!!
    (Eish, there was too much depth and advice up there, I feel like I needed to laugh it up a lill’ bit) :-)
    True, what you say- Even though I cannot take photos to save my life, I do know that the same school of though is applied to writing.

    And so may I take heed.

  3. WOW. that is so true. I would like to throw in a long comment but you have just simplified what has been on my mind for the longest time. Especially that issue of doing alot of work to get crap out of the way. okay, I stop now. most likely, I have nothing more to add.

    Thanks for doing this post.

  4. You have just ‘voiced’ what most of us rookies are thinking.

    Thank you for writing this. I am stealing your pointers and spinning it to my experiences. I too, have to blog about this.

  5. This is a great post! As a writer, the “problems” you mentioned also happen in the writing community too. I think as professionals (and rookies) of any artistic passion/profession, there will be times when we don’t get down to work when we need to, when we curse the materials we use, and when what started out as a passion, turns out to be a job. However, we need to remember that we are artists. We don’t need our money right away, we need to work hard to get the results we want, and while we need to have other artist role models, we have our own style, and we need to follow our OWN, not someone else’s.

    Thanks for posting this! It’s great!

  6. I really like this post. It reminds me of a story I was told by Dano (also a photographer) when someone asked him what the best sort of camera was.
    Some lady was going through a photo exhibition, and at the end, she happened to meet the photographer, and told him, “These are some lovely pictures, you must have a really good camera”
    Some years down the line, the photographer happened to be invited to a dinner party, and it turned out that this same lady was the hostess. So, at the end of the meal, he said, “That was a lovely dinner. You must have a really good cooker”.
    The most profound lesson I ever learnt about photography.
    I loved this post.

  7. This post is very well said. What I love is how true it is for other things as well. The things I love most are exactly the same way: Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, Guitar, and climbing. Thank you so much for the post. Sometimes we all need a little reminder– and great selection of quotes. Cheers.

  8. Hi Mutua, what you said is well put. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt before i call my self a pro.
    Its just like a journey each step you make, moves you ahead for the next challenge. I am taking a day
    at a time. Amateurs look for inspirations while the pros just got straight to work. Until that day, let me
    practise to get there..

  9. How did i miss this? This is so true. “You must have a very good camera” thats the one I get most times. I just smile and say yes then I ask them to try take a good picture with it

  10. Hi all…
    Hi Mutua..,
    Thanks for Posting this Mutua
    It’s very inspiring Post as You always did, I found not just beautiful photos in every Post you make but a lot of nice thing about ‘life’ too.
    If You don’t mind, I would like to share to my friends about this one on my Blog :)

  11. Pingback: Kami Dari Semua : My ‘unprofessional’ Opinion – By Mutua Matheka on WordPress « Kami Dari Semua

  12. Practice makes perfect n i love that quote “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson Its a challenge to me and looking forward to work with other photographers as a mentee to learn more.Thanx 4 the advice coming from you God Bless you

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