"No photo is worth more than your life"

With the unending rains and peculiar weather we have been experiencing for the past few days, I’ve been hearing numerous photographers wanting to go out and trying to shoot the atmospheric conditions outside their homes. Arguably, it can be both a challenging fulfillment and a dangerous thing to do, especially those who are just starting off in photography. 

challenging fulfillment, in a sense, that it is really amazing to shoot in this kind of weather where the silence of the world echoes, as the cold and wet weather lingers and the skies having such an unpredictable disposition. Shooting in rainy, or even in stormy weather allows one to capture the world, which is usually bustling and full of life, in a state where there is solace and stillness in the face of every situation.

However, it is more of a danger to anyone since as we all know, the cities of Metro Manila are flood-prone. And where there is flood, there is always a risk of infection and other diseases that I need not mention. Consider too the risk of your precious equipment getting wet and even unusable when it gets too wet or even submerged in water, especially entry-level gear. Add to that the risk of heavy winds and other environmental risks that come along with the rainy season.

Paul Quiambao once said, "No photo is worth more than your life." 

I totally agree with this. Your health, safety and welfare should be the primary things you should consider when shooting photos.

This does not only apply to weather or situations like this, but to every photo opportunity and genre as well, be it landscape, street, travel or other photography genre.

Let this post serve simply as a warning to everyone who is considering shooting in this type of weather.

Don’t let me stop you from shooting. But you’ve been forewarned. :)

Keep dry, keep safe and keep shooting! :D

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Keep the flame ALIVE!

Oftentimes, I hear people give up on things they once loved and held dear. Before, they spend a lot of efforts and drain their finances for the something they formerly loved — and now forget.

Collecting stamps, travelling, and most especially photography…

A lot of people start off in photography having that desire and passion to shoot…to immortalize moments in time…to see things from a different perspective and get a glimpse of what our finite sense of vision can bring forth. But as time goes on, that flame of passion slowly dwindles, flickering dimmer and dimmer until it dies out.

Why? For some, it may be the feelings of apprehensions of shooting with mediocre or the so-called “entry-level” gear when standing among other photographers in an event. For others, it may be because of having the lack of time and motivation to shoot. For others still, it may be because they aren’t good enough and that they should stop before they embarass themselves when showcasing the photos they shoot.Whatever your reason may be, don’t you forget the primary reason why you first fell in love with your camera…it’s because of your passion for photography.

For starters, it’s not the camera that makes the photo…it’s the one who operates the camera. You may have a camera kit that costs as much as a small car but don’t know how to use it, you might as well use it as a posh paperweight on your desk. It’s better to have an entry-level camera and get the most out of it and upgrade to a better one when you have mastered the skills you need than buy a high-end piece of equipment now and become disappointed because photography has become a complex thing to learn than an enjoyable one.

Secondly, I believe that someone who is once a photographer is always a photographer, even if time and location doesn’t allow him to shoot. You just have to find ways to shoot…may it be indoors on your dining table or a plant on a sidewalk. Your imagination is only your limitation.

Lastly, and probably the worst thing to say is that you are not good enough a photographer to shoot. Stopping would only make it worse. Photography is like learning to write and practicing writing as a child…the more you write, the better your penmanship becomes. If you stop, your penmanship also doesn’t improve. You lose all your skills and end up writing poorly. Remember that all photographers that we all look up to today, began as noobs before. They didn’t know what shutter speeds, apertures and ISOs were. They had poor composition. They were basically unlearned when it comes to photography. But did they stop? Definitely not! What kept them going on, learning more and more each day is by practicing, asking questions, taking risks and experimenting until they mastered their craft and became who they are now today. And they are not a product of overnight miracles…this required hardwork of being critiqued, staying under the sun and shooting till dawn and a lot more sacrifices to become who they are now.

Yes, I admittedly felt the all of these before — the same feelings of being in the limelight in the past and shooting with “mediocre” gear, while others beside me shot with the fastestbest and most technologically-advanced cameras in the market today. Yes, I felt like giving up photography because I seemed unwelcomed in ”the group” of photographers because I wasn’t carrying equipment which are currently half a year’s worth of my salary.

I too lost my drive to shoot before. I believe every photographer is subjected to this once in a while.Creative constipation is what I’d like to call it. It’s like going to a place, looking around and saying to yourself, "Yep, I’ve shot this a million times. Wala ng pwedeng i-shoot." Like I always say, creativity comes from within. Challenge yourself in trying to view the world from a different eye. You’ll soon find out that the world is such a vast place to lose photos to take.

I am a still an amateur photographer; techniques-wise, I still have a a lot to learn, to practice, to experiment. I still have a lot to discover. I shoot because I love photography…I am passionate about it.

…And I believe that so areYOU.

Never lose your passion in photography just because of some very menial things.

Keep the flame burning! :D

Keep it alive.

Don’t stop shooting! :D

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Learn before you buy

It’s such a thought-provoker for me on why numerous people aim to get new lenses in such a short period of time without even "mastering" the one that they bought in the first place. An example would be getting a new lens at the beginning of the month and then acquiring two more lenses before the month ends. It really seems quite illogical to me why people do that. Yes, let us say that they have the financial capacity to do so. But for personal improvement of your skill, would you do that?

I shall take myself as an example. I have had my camera kit for roughly around four years. 99% of the time, it’s my 18-55mm kit lens I use for all the photos I take. I have literally been through hell and water with that lens. Shot under the rain with it. Covered for various University events with it. Simply put, that lens and I had a long and romantic relationship. Yes, I have often cursed that lens for being stubby, unassuming when beside professional photographers, slow for action and low light and whole lot more negativity. And yet, that lens has never failed me. Through the course of the four or so years that I have been with that lens, I have learned it’s strengths and weaknesses, the pitfalls of a rotating front element and a whole lot more.

…and I still have a lot to learn in using that lens. :)

Bottom-line is, you never need “just-one-more-lens”. A great photographer once said thatthe best lens ever is the one you have right now. Most of us have a kit lens.. may it be 18-55; 18-70; 18-105; 18-135; 18-200; 24-85; 35-70 and so on…learn it. Don’t be afraid to use it. Don’t be ashamed of it. Kit lenses have gone a long way to be the lens it is now. They now have improved mechanics, manual focus override…even weather-sealing. Kit lenses have a reason why it’s bundled with most cameras you buy today…BECAUSE IT’S PROBABLY THE ONLY LENS THAT YOU’LL NEED. It’s wide and it’s telephoto. It’s light enough to be brought anywhere but tough enough to endure most shooting situations. It can even suit your macro cravings because it focuses quite close.

Master one lens first before buying a new one. Because in the course of mastering your lens, you get to see its shortcomings and further understand the concepts of photography. Think of it this way: you have a cabinet full of lenses — yet you don’t know how to use them. Such a pity. 

Don’t have GAS — Gear Acquisition Syndrome. You don’t need every lens to cover every millimeter from 6mm down to 1600mm.

I bought my 50mm prime lens just last year…three years after I acquired my kit lens. Photography is a never-ending process of learning and re-learning what you know…adding concepts and experimenting. I too, am still learning…still experimenting…still trying novel ways on how to use my kit lens :)

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