Three P's of Photography - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Photography can be broken down into three distinct steps that, when done correctly and with care, will unfailingly produce great photos.

These are The Three P's of Photography: Purchase, Point, Press.

Purchase is by far the most important part of the photographic process: everything else depends on it. This is why the majority of all of your effort should be spent on selecting and comparing theoretical camera, lens, and accessory options. Fortunately there's huge community support and resources devoted to making this as easy and all-consuming as possible. The biggest photography websites are all about new product announcements, reviews, and discussions; camera stores are heavily staffed with people whose sole purpose is to help photographers buy new equipment. Let them help you.

Having the right combination of newest cameras, fancy lenses, camera bags, tripods, lights, memory cards, lens cleaners, remote shutter releases, and focus testing charts is the most critical part of being a successful photographer. But technology, optics, and acceptable price points are always improving, so crafting the perfect kit is an ongoing exercise of revision and rethinking. Mastering the purchase will likely be the recurring theme of your entire photographic career, so embrace the challenges and complexities of this step. Many of the most prolific photographers in the online community have reached such a level of mastery that they are able to select and re-select their best possible equipment combinations without ever actually needing to 'pull the trigger' on anything at all.

Point is the next important step toward photographic success; as Ansel Adams said, a good photograph is knowing where to stand. Fortunately we're blessed with a huge range of suitable things to point our cameras at. If you're in North America and like scenery then you get to choose between Yosemite or Antelope Canyon; landscapists outside of America can photograph anywhere they like in Iceland. If you prefer nature you can select any of a dozen species of birds or mammals to capture with long lenses. Macro photographers can choose between flowers and insects, or even double up and photograph flowers with insects. Street photographers and fashion bloggers have the expansive wealth of shooting in at least three of New York City's five boroughs. Such riches just waiting to be discovered!

Don't forget to give back to the community by sharing your purchasing and pointing successes on your favourite photography websites. People will always appreciate being able to incorporate your additional data points in their own purchasing and pointing decisions. But remember that photographic taste is subjective: some people will applaud tack-sharpness, while others only praise creamy bokeh. If you can satisfy both factions of your audience with the same photo then you've really got something to be proud of.

Press: Correctly pressing buttons is the elusive photographic skill that defines photographers at the top of their game. It's more difficult to quantify and achieve than purchasing and pointing, but don't be fooled! Knowing which camera buttons to press, and when, can be just as important as pointing it in the correct direction. And when two photographers have both made excellent purchasing decisions it's knowing which buttons to press that will set one of them apart. Practice pressing the different buttons on your camera so that you'll know what to do when that perfect photo happens in front of you.

You'll sometimes hear people talk wistfully about 'capturing the decisive moment'. This is the holy grail of photographic achievement: it takes pressing the right button of a well-pointed and correctly-bought camera at just the right time. A camera with a high frames-per-second rate can really come in handy here. Many modern cameras also have built-in Art or Creative settings, so learn the button combinations that enable these as well. Being able to correctly press buttons goes to the heart of photography.

So there you have it: The Three P's of Photography. Purchase, Point, and Press.

Mastering them all may take months, or even years, but follow them well and success is guaranteed.


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