Digital photography has beginners around the world paying for courses and ebooks to learn how to take better photos with their digital cameras. Are they getting what they pay for?
A few years ago, I wrote an ebook to teach beginners the basics of good photography. You know, aperture, shutter speed, depth of field, lighting, composition; the kind of things that are the stock-in-trade of any experienced phogographer. In recent times, I have been amazed at the increasing number of people eager to get their hands on this type of information.
With the internet seemingly taking over the world, and the explosion in availability of books, ebooks and courses on just about every subject, why is it so hard for a new photographer to find out how to use their camera? It's a mystery for the modern age, but I think I may have found the answer.
If a person has a bad experience, especially if that experience cost them hard-earned dollars, they will tell others. And what they are telling me is that they are NOT HAPPY with most of the photography courses and guides on offer.
Many courses and workshops advertising 'digital photography' have little or nothing to do with actual photography. That's right, you can sign up to learn the skills of better photography and not learn one thing about taking better photos.
Instead, what you get is a workshop on digital imaging, or photo editing. How to fix up your bad photos, how to superimpose rainbows and birds into your landscapes and how to remove freckles and pimples from your portraits. How to use software which, in many cases, the customer doesn't have, doesn't want and possibly can't afford.
Are these useful skills? Of course they are, but they are not photography. At best, they are secondary skills that enhance the creative possibilities of photography, for people who choose to go down that path. This does not include everybody.
The result could be a generation of 'photographers' who know more about fixing up their mistakes on a computer than about taking good photos in the first place.
If a customer pays you to teach them photography, they have a right to expect that they will learn how to use a camera. If they want to learn about computer software, they will buy a different ebook, or sign up to a different course. If you take their money, then sit them in front of a computer for three days, you have not given them what they paid for. If your customer asks for their money back - so they should.
I could take a pessimistic view, and think that some photographers have become so lazy, so unskilled, that they really believe digital manipulation is more important to photography than skill with a camera. I prefer to think that the customers I have spoken to have just been the victims of misunderstandings and poorly worded advertising.
Whichever is the case, customers beware! Before you hand over your credit card, find out exactly what you are signing up for. If you want to learn to be a better photographer, make sure the course, workshop, or ebook is about using your camera, not just a computer. If software is a component of the course, terrific - you are getting a well rounded look at the world of photography. If it is the only component, shop around; there are still people out there who want to teach what you want to learn.