Nick Carver Photography Blog

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Starting a Photography Business: Interview with Barber Career Agency

Starting a Photography BusinessWhat do I, Nick Carver, have to do with barber schools and cosmetology schools? Well, nothing really. But a nice gentleman by the name of Matt from the Barber Career Agency (www.barbercareeragency.com) recently asked to interview me about starting a photography business. The Barber Career Agency is a one-stop information shop for folks looking to start a career as a barber or cosmetologist. And since the Barber Career Agency is about helping barbers start their careers, Matt has gone around asking all sorts of professionals about what it's like to start your own business. I think it provides invaluable insight into the challenges and rewards of being your own boss, something barbers - and really any aspiring entrepreneur - could benefit from.

Matt worked up a great series of questions that I found to be very interesting. It got me thinking about things I don't often get a chance to dive into.

I know a lot of my readers are interested in starting a photography business, so I thought this interview might be of interest to those folks. And if you're not interested in starting your own photography business, I think you'll find the interview a good read anyway. I talk about how I got started in photography, what keeps my passion going, and what the difficulties of running a business are.

Here's just a small sample from the article:

Q: What do you like most about being a photographer?

A: My favorite part about being a photographer is creating framed artwork. I, of course, enjoy the actual process of taking pictures, but it’s actually a close second to having the finished piece hanging on a wall. I find no greater satisfaction in life than seeing the final framed print. It’s really a shame when people’s picture just reside on a computer or online, never getting printed. It’s such a transient satisfaction to share something on Facebook or Instagram, but once it’s printed and framed, the tangibility that comes with it makes the reward far stronger.

Read the interview in all its entirety at
http://www.barbercareeragency.com/interview-with-nick-from-nick-carver-photography/

The Best Way to Learn the Photography Basics

The Best Way to Learn Photography BasicsLearning the photography basics can seem like a daunting task for beginners. Shutter speeds, apertures, ISO settings, white balance, and all the rest of that photography jargon can really make your head spin. These photography basics are important for any photographer to learn regardless of their style or niche. When taught correctly, these topics are very learnable by even the greenest students.

There are endless free resources online to learn this material, but unfortunately, there is no way to verify their validity. As a novice it's essentially impossible to determine if the information taught in, say, a YouTube video or a free blog post is actually correct. As a professional photography teacher, I can tell you honestly that it's astonishing how prevalent false information is online and how many "teachers" are unknowingly spreading blatantly incorrect material. Just because the guy in the YouTube video sounds like he knows what he's talking about doesn't mean he actually does.

The Pitfalls of Unstructured Study

Take it from someone who has worked with over a thousand photography students of all skill levels: Attempting to learn the photography basics through piece-meal videos and articles is slow, inefficient, and counter-productive. Often times the result is an over-emphasis placed on insignificant topics (like ISO noise) and a complete disregard of the most important stuff. The student will also inevitably run into a lot of conflicting information, and with no stable resource to reconcile it, the student will just be left confused and frustrated. This method of learning photography results in unnecessary confusion and a much higher probability of failure. My toughest students are the ones who do the most independent online study through unverified resources. They tend to place too much emphasis on trivial topics that the internet has blown way out of proportion like megapixel counts, lens choice, full-frame vs digital crop cameras, and high ISO noise. While, at the same time, the really important topics of exposure, manual metering, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, and exposure compensation are taught inefficiently and riddled with errors.

But here's the biggest problem with independent, unstructured learning: things are learned out of order. There is no lesson plan or curriculum on YouTube. You learn this thing over here, then that thing over there... it's all out of order. Learning these important photography basics out of order can be worse than not learning them at all. If you're studying advanced topics before the basics are well-understood, you are far more likely to give up because it seems too daunting and too confusing. It's really not too confusing, it's just that you're trying to learn it out of order. The photography basics are learned best through a structured lesson plan that keeps things in the proper order for maximum efficiency and understanding.

Learn Photography Basics From a Reputable Source

Look, I know that it's impossible for this to not sound like one big sales pitch. After all, I am trying to convince you to let me teach you the photography basics. But let's not even talk about my courses for a second. I'm begging you to learn this information from someone reputable - even if it's not me! Learn photography at a local community college or from a reputable online course provider or from a book by Ansel Adams. Learn photography from someone with experience and credentials. Learn it from a professional teacher. Someone who teaches for a living has a vested interest in teaching things well and correctly - that's how we get more clients. The guy who posted a YouTube video for free doesn't really care if the information is taught poorly or incorrectly - he's got a day job and he's doing this for free.

Professional teachers like me charge a fee to teach photography because it takes a lot of work and experience to teach these things well. I've invested over 5 years of my life to teaching photography full-time. I know how to teach it poorly and I know how to teach it well. So even if it's not with me, learn the photography basics the right way. And if you do like my teaching style, please check out my Introduction to DSLR Photography online course covering all the photography basics here or any of my other online photography courses here. Download a free preview of any of my courses using those links. Let me prove to you that I can explain this photography stuff better than you've ever heard before. And be sure to check out the testimonials from previous students here.

Which is Better: Canon vs Nikon

Canon vs NikonOh God...not another debate of Canon vs Nikon and Nikon vs Canon. Does't the internet have enough of this drivel? Yes, yes it does. But the internet forums and Flickr comments are unyielding on this topic and I still get a lot of questions from students about which one is better. It seems it's up to me, Ken Rockwell, and just a few other no-BS bloggers to fight off the hoards of Canon and Nikon fanboys.

If you're a regular reader here, you know that I don't buy in to marketing hype and I often disagree with the masses out there on the interwebs when it comes to topics like how many megapixels you really need and whether or not you should get a full-frame camera. So I'm hoping you'll trust my words here in the Canon vs Nikon debate.

So then, which is it? Nikon or Canon?

My short answer is this: it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. Neither is better, neither is worse. You'd be happy with either of them. I've used almost every model on the market from both manufacturers, I've taught students on just about every model available, I am very, very familiar with the differences between each, and I'm telling you that it's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. It's Toyota or Honda, Coke or Pepsi, Duracell or Energizer. It's whatever you prefer.

I've even heard stupid things like "If you're into landscapes, you go with Nikon, but if you're into sports and wildlife, you go with Canon." Where that nonsense came from, I have no idea. Neither system is better for one type of photography or another. Certain camera models might be better for certain types of photography than others, but even then it's not often a big deal.

What do pros use more? Probably Canon. More people use Canon - amateurs, pros, whatever. Not because Canon is better but because they have a bigger market share. They have for 10 years running. Simple as that. Maybe it's better cameras, or maybe it's marketing, the color scheme, cunning executives...I don't know.

My biggest idol in photography, Galen Rowell, was a Nikon man. But I shoot Canon, Mamiya, Shen-Hao, Nikon, even Polaroid. So it doesn't even matter what your idolized pro of choice uses. Many of the most iconic and respectable photographers out there don't even make a big deal out of the equipment they use unless they are sponsored by that manufacturer. I use Canon DSLRs, but if Nikon came knocking with a big paycheck and a box full of cameras, I'd be an instant convert.

But really, you should be very suspicious of anyone who is a huge fan of either. There's nothing wrong with loving your equipment, but no one should really have any major loyalty to either brand unless they are getting compensated for that loyalty. Wearing a wristband that resembles a coveted Canon lens or sporting a shirt that proudly states "I shoot Nikon"...might as well wear a shirt that says "I'm new to photography and I'm really just into it for the equipment."

All that being said, I tend to recommend Canon over Nikon when students are shopping for their very first camera. But if they already have their eye on a Nikon or they already have some Nikon gear, I tell them to go with Nikon. But either way, let me break down my viewpoint on this matter into more specific categories:

Image Quality:
It's quite simple, neither has a leg up in image quality. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. I admit that some of Canon's cameras may have better image quality than some of Nikon's cameras and vica versa, but on the whole, neither manufacturer is consistently better in the image quality department than the other. And besides, this is hugely subjective. You may favor a camera with richer blues and greens whereas I may favor one with stronger yellows and reds. Canon and Nikon both create excellent image quality. Even the worst, bottom-of-the-line, entry-level camera from either manufacturer will kick the you-know-what out of the top of the line cameras from 5 years ago.

Megapixels:
Trust me, you don't need as many megapixels as you think. 18 megapixels is way more than enough for prints probably 6 feet long. Anything more than that, like Nikon's ridiculous 36-megapixel D800, will cause more trouble than it's worth. Both manufacturers should knock it off with the megapixel battles. They're forcing us all to get faster computers, bigger hard drives, and more memory cards all for what? So we can share our pictures on Flickr and Facebook, maybe print a 16x24 now and then? You could use an 8-megapixel camera for that. Click here to read an article I wrote about how many megapixels you really need.

Controls and User-Friendliness:
This is the one and only category where I feel Canon edges out Nikon. Canon cameras are more user-friendly in almost all respects and their control layout is more logical. Ah...You feel that? That's the feeling of Nikon fanboys trembling with dissent to that statement. But I stand by it. I don't say this is a personal preference kind of thing. I don't mean that prefer Canon's control layout, I'm saying that Canon cameras are more intuitive and I can prove it. Read this article for my proof. I've taught hundreds and hundreds of students on both Canon and Nikon through group classes, one-on-one lessons, and online photography courses. It's based off this experience that I say many of Canon's controls are easier to learn, they are more intuitive, they require less explanation, and they leave less opportunity for confusion. Of course, not all of the controls are better on a Canon - Nikon does have a leg up on some things like the white balance control and flash options, but Canon cameras are just a bit more user-friendly. But whatever the case, you can get used to whatever control system you want. Once you do, the other camera's controls will seem ridiculous and backwards.

Build Quality:
Some Nikons feel really nice and solid, built like a tank. Some Canons do, too. Those are their higher-end, more expensive weather-sealed cameras. They also each produce some cameras and lenses that feel like they'd break if you sneezed in their general direction. Bottom line is you gotta feel it in your hands to know which one you want. And remember that better build quality usually equates to more weight and cost. Also, I know it seems like you're really punishing your camera with the conditions you shoot in, but you're not. Even the cheapest DSLR can withstand very rough weather and even rougher handling. The high-end built-like-a-tank models are designed to withstand the tortures of real-life combat, 100% humidity, driving rain, mud, rocks, and whatever else a National Geographic photographer can throw at it. The rest of us don't need such protection.

Ergonomics:
Again, both manufacturers make some cameras that feel like they were built for your hands. They also each make some cameras that feel like you need a second thumb just to hold it right. Find the camera that fits your hands best, regardless of manufacturer.

Lenses:
Both companies have huge R&D departments for new lenses, both offer top-of-the-line optics, and both are on the cutting edge of lens design. Each manufacturer has equivalent lens options, too. You'd be hard-pressed to find a lens by either manufacturer that doesn't have a suitable counterpart in the other. I will point out, though, that Nikon cameras are often compatible with Nikon lenses from as far back as the 1970's, which is kind of cool. But let's be realistic...with how insane everybody is today about getting the best quality lens, how many shooters are really going to opt for an old manual-focus lens from an era of lower-quality glass?

Conclusion:
Don't get caught up in the Canon vs Nikon debate. It's all a bunch of hot air. Great photos come from great photographers, not great cameras. Some of the most iconic photos in our history came from equipment that makes a camera phone look like professional gear. What matters is technique, composition, knowing how to use your equipment, and an ability to capture the right moment under the right light. Camera gear are just tools. Nothing more.