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Manual. F stop. Shutter speed. Lighting. Rule of thirds. And so much more.

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As a third year broadcast journalism student doing photography for the first time, all of these terms were quite scary. I remember sitting in class thinking “I don’t even want to be photographer”, “Why can’t I just shoot on auto? Surely there’s a reason why it’s there?” and “Can’t I just do all the adjustments in post-production?”

Then our lecturer said the worst possible thing. She said, “Okay guys, now that I’ve explained this to you, go out and shoot something on campus. Remember to shoot on manual! I’ll see you guys in 30 minutes”

I walked out of class hoping the ground would swallow me whole before I looked clueless wandering around campus with a huge camera in my hands. I felt so uncomfortable. I had friends on campus who knew I knew nothing about photography. What were they going to say?

Suddenly, everything on campus looked too boring for a photograph. What was I going to shoot? Was I meant to ask for permission to shoot people or should I just do it like a professional stalker? Luckily (or maybe not) there was burnt car on campus which everyone was talking about so I decided to take some pictures of it.

I tried my best to remain professional but I could feel the stares as I fiddled with my camera with a perplexed look on my face. I was trying to get the lighting right but I couldn’t remember whether I should decrease or increase the F stop. Which one makes the hole bigger or smaller? Or is it slower or faster? Argh, I don’t know! I continued to snap away, hoping for the best.

After a couple of minutes, I found myself in all sorts of positions. At one point, I was lying flat on stomach and another, I was on my tippy toes with camera held high above the crowd gathered around the burnt car. I moved around the car, thinking of some creative shots to take. After about 45 minutes of riveting shooting of a burnt car, I realized that I was late for class. I ran back, eager to show what I had done.

After I presented my pictures, my lecturer told me that some of my shots were slightly out of focus but I had some great creativity and excellent shots.

For a beginner photographer, that’s all I needed to hear.

After that, these are some of the pictures I took for my first photography assignment at UCT called "Poverty and Inequality". 

I haven’t looked back since

 

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