Can anyone become a photographer in the digital age?

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Text: by Alex Mita

Can anyone become a photographer in the digital age?

In a YouTube video, London School of Photography founder Antonio Leanza shares his thoughts on what he believes is a very important question asked by aspiring photographers today.

Photography has rapidly evolved from the golden age of the late 20th century where owning a camera was a luxury and going to the photographer’s studio was an experience in itself. Nowadays almost everyone owns a smartphone with an excellent quality integrated camera.

“Becoming a photographer in the 70s was very, very hard,” Antonio says.
“There weren’t that many schools but if you really had the will to become a professional photographer then you could, I mean, I did. I couldn’t afford camera, films or dark room materials, but I really wanted to become a photographer so I worked very hard at it.

“My first camera was a small Canon range finder with a fixed lens, manual exposure and to me then it was like a space ship. I didn’t know where to start and there weren’t that many people who knew. There were professional photographers who did family portraits and wedding photography and commercial. If you wanted to learn with them you could start working as an assistant and if you were lucky and you found a good photographer you would learn the basics.”

Digital photography has become cheaper and more accessible making it more difficult to compete with the growing number of emerging professionals. But as we often like to say at LSP, the camera doesn’t make the photographer. What makes a successful photographer is years of practice and self improvement, but of course the foundations of the art, like the “holy trinity of photography” the Exposure Triangle must first be mastered.

Antonio compares owning a camera to owning a pen.
“Everyone owns a pen,” he says.
They can sign documents with it, fill in a forms, write essays and dissertations, but that doesn’t make them writers.
“Owning a pen doesn’t make you a writer, just like owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer. If you want to become a writer you have to study. You have to study the principles and practice, and focus on what you want to achieve.
“Same with being a photographer. You may have been clicking away on automatic mode for years not knowing what the building blocks of the art are, not knowing what makes a good picture.”

Antonio says that learning the foundations of photography is absolutely essential in order to be successful in a very competitive business filled with many creative people.
“If you want to build a skyscraper you have to dig deeper and wider, broader so that you can reach great heights,” he says, and it’s the same with photography, and with any profession, sculptor, builder, anything requires practice on the principles and foundations.
“And the principles and foundations is what we need to focus on forever, if we want to develop our skills. If we break down composition, exposure and focus, you have enough to practice forever,” he adds.

Click here to watch the complete video with Antonio’s thoughts and advice on how to develop as an aspiring photographer.



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