When is Not Answering Beginner Photography Questions Okay?

It’s a golden age to be starting off as a photographer these days. A multitude of learning resources are readily available, and there are a lot of photography gurus in different forums and social media discussion groups. If you’re a beginner photographer and have a question that pops up in your head, you can simply ask your heart out in those forums. But wait, is that the right thing to do? Photographer and instructor Michael Andrew feels that it’s not always right to:

“Information is so readily available today, sometimes it is easier to be lazy.”

It’s easy to ask questions online. So easy that many beginners tend to ask the same question almost every other day. This shows how lazy we have become. A good idea is thus to spend some time doing your own research on the topic before asking it publicly. Chances are that your query might have already been answered.

Then there’s the instance of how beginners want you to make the tough decision of choosing the right gear for them. It’s okay to recommend gear based on your expertise, but it really sucks when they come back some time later and blame you if they don’t like it. So, avoid making such decisions for them.

And how can we forget those questions about comparing gear, or asking you to teach them a certain look that you’re known for. Responding to such questions make no sense at all.

If you’re a beginner and have been going around asking such questions, understand that you need to stop. Put in some effort to do your research. And if you’re a pro in the field, start responding selectively. By answering every question that’s thrown at you, you might be doing more bad than good.

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One response to “When is Not Answering Beginner Photography Questions Okay?”

  1. Burt says:

    I worked my way through college as a physicist doing Laser Holographic research (1968-1972). I had two bosses, both mathematicians, and both brilliant. I would hit a wall in my experiments, and would go ask them, and always got an excellent answer.

    This went on for more than a year. I was in my Sophomore year at UC Berkeley, and one day went in and asked them a question again. This time, they said “you figure it out.” I was stunned!

    They went on to tell me that I was bright and could figure these things out, but had gotten lazy and asked them too quickly. The result was that I was not learning to work out more complex issues, and had stagnated.

    I grumbled, went back to the lab… and figured it out within an hour. From then on, I made a rule that i would not go ask for help unless I had at least struggled with it for an hour, and would then go to them with an explanation of what I had tried, before asking what I was missing.

    That was an important lesson that I learned well, and passed on to hundreds of engineers that worked for me over the decades (I am now retired).

    It is even easier today to ask, because of the internet and the variety of social platforms. As such, I see such laziness every day. I used to try to explain how they could approach the problem themselves, but I found very few were open to actually thinking, and were just pissed I did not hand them The Final Answer on a platter. Now I just scroll past those questions…

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