Let me just start this article by telling you I am a young photographer, and have only been shooting for 4-5 years. With that being said, I’d like to tell you how shooting with a point-and-shoot camera changed the way I thought about photography in such a short period of time.
When I first started to get into photography, I was actually not the one behind the camera, but rather I stood in front of the camera, as a subject for my brother who was becoming interested in photography. I watched my brother pose me in his images and I would learn to style myself and model in a sense for his photography projects. About a year later, I got my first camera – my brother’s hand-me-down, a Nikon D3300 beginner camera. I started to shoot anything and everything and tried to learn how to develop my photography style. I knew I did not want to copy my brother’s photos and I knew that I didn’t want to take photos like other people; I wanted to capture what I saw, in the way that I saw it in my everyday life.
I began taking my camera lots of places, but I didn’t consider it something that I needed to have on me. It was just a way of expressing myself and I enjoyed meeting new people through it as well.
Realistically, I should be writing this article after I’ve already learned photography I suppose. But I am writing this article while still in this phase, which I think is quite alright, as most of us are still in this phase.
Regardless, after I began taking photos with my DSLR, I started to read more about photography and learned to look back at older photographers who created incredible bodies of work. For example, I visited a museum while in Berlin, Germany and learned all about William Klein, an American-born, French photographer who used many unconventional techniques in his documentary and fashion photography. I became truly inspired and looked at photography as a whole new medium after seeing this exhibition and learned from that point on to keep digging deeper into the history of photography in order to help myself develop my own style.
Fast-forward a few months and I begin to learn a lot more about analog photography and become interested in shooting film. I decided I didn’t have the budget for film so I started off by buying point-and-shoot disposable film cameras after seeing Curtis Kariuki, an extraordinary photographer and filmmaker from my area do the same thing. I thought his work was incredible and he really had a cool eye with his photography work especially, and when I found out a lot of his photos were taken on these disposable cameras that I could afford and could buy at CVS, I decided to buy my first disposable point-and-shoot. Here are some photos from my first disposable camera:
Around this time, I was really getting into photography and reading about tons of photographers and many stood out, but after a test of time, I realize how much Kariuki’s work inspired me when I first started shooting. Definitely be sure to check out his work and maybe he will inspire you as well.
After I got the photos from my first roll of film back I decided that I wanted to start shooting more film and less digital. I found it to be more of a natural process, I believed it looked cooler, and I loved the colors that the film was able to provide versus my digital camera. Like I said before, I didn’t have the budget for film, but after seeing my first roll I knew it was my goal to find a way to start really shooting film. I decided that if I wanted to do this I would have to start developing my own film and for two reasons: (1) cost and (2) time.
Every lab I tried going to charged an arm and a leg to develop a roll of film and even though you pay to have it developed, you still have to wait 3 days – 2 or more weeks. I couldn’t stand the waiting so I decided to go online and learn how to develop film. I learned how to develop C-41 film using a makeshift darkroom and my kitchen sink and after that I began developing two rolls of film pretty much every other day.
I guess I should rewind a little bit and tell you about my first SLR camera. Around the time I started learning how to develop film, I also bought my first ‘real’ film camera, a Nikon FE. Nothing too special, but it was a great camera to start off with and I had a basic 50mm f/2.8 lens to help capture some cool shots. I started shooting with this camera a lot, but still not everyday.
Fast forward 3-5 months and I am back to using my point-and-shoot camera every single day, and I started to ask myself why.
It wasn’t just the fact that my point-and-shoot was small and compact so that it could fit in my pocket, but it was also super reliable and I was always fascinated about the outcomes of the point-and-shoot camera, whether they were mishaps or perfect shots.
How a Point-and-Shoot Changed My Perspective
Now that I have been shooting for 4-5 years and you know a bit more about my story, I’d like to share how shooting with this point-and-shoot camera changed my whole perspective on photography.
Before I carried a point-and-shoot with me at all times, photography was a way to express myself. When I turned to my point-and-shoot camera, everything in my life changed to a documentary-style mindset. It didn’t matter if nothing interesting happened on any particular day, but I knew I wanted to capture what happened that day.
Being able to have my camera in my pocket, on me at all times, really transitioned my work and forced me to keep my eyes open, to always be aware, because not every shot is something that will present it to you, but certain frames you need to seek out and find.
Take a look below at some more recent images with my point-and-shoot camera:
Once I began shooting more and more with my point-and-shoot it became my go-to camera. Not because of the quality; by no means is this a high quality camera, but because of the way I could use it. I felt more comfortable asking to take a portrait of someone with a less intimidating camera than say, a giant DSLR camera. Perhaps it is different for everyone, but for me this small camera took me a long ways.
The last point I’d like to share with you is in relation to camera settings. When working with a point-and-shoot camera you have very little camera settings to work with. You have flash on/off, red-eye reduction, specific modes to shoot in, and maybe a few more small adjustments, but other than these small factors, the shot is all up to how you frame it. This is actually a negative point for many photographers as they would like the ability to fully customize their settings before taking a shot, but for me there is something pleasing about not having to set up a camera. Being able to grab your camera from your pocket and shoot within 2-5 seconds is a very unique trait to have which is why I look at it as a positive, but I do understand why many photographers don’t prefer this method.
I hope this helps you to develop your own style of photography. Whether you are shooting with a point-and-shoot or not, I hope my insights will be able to help you out in some way.
Let us know what you think about Matt’s take on photography below. Do you think it’s lazy to always shoot with a point-and-shoot camera? Or do you think having a compact camera on you at all times is smart?