Clement Mesnier

Urban and landscape photography

One year ago, on june 30th 2012, I bought my very first digital single-lens reflex camera. Since then I've taken more than 10000 images. Yes, ten thousand the first year, with a day job. Today I take a look back on this fantastic journey.

Even though Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said that "your first 10000 photographs are your worst", I do believe I captured a few good ones. I know one thing for sure, I've learned a ton and I want to share these lessons learned.

Let's go back in june 2012. I had taken photos before, a few thousands to be honest. Nevertheless, I knew that I wasn't truly a photographer. I had a good compact camera, very handy but lacking the hability to change settings manually. So all the photos were taken in the "auto" mode. I had no clue what the words aperture, ISO, shutter speed, depth of field and so on meant. It wasn't that bad though, I knew about composition and my post production skills were already quite good. My knowledge even included how to do HDR imagery, split toning, panoramas and even little planets. 

Hence the need to get a reflex to really master photography. The only issue was money. As a student I couldn't afford to pay $700+ for a DSLR. Then I started working as an intern for a big company and saved enough money to afford it. For my budget the best fit was a Nikon D5100 with the upgrader lens kit 18-105mm. It ranges in the mid-level amateur market. I don't regret my choice, sure sometimes I fancy features of higher level cameras but there is nothing off putting. It's a great starting point for a beginner in the DLSR field. After 10000 photos I haven't even explored all the things it can do. Let alone outgrowing it.

In term of lenses, to start with the 18-105mm was the best choice I did. I've noticed that I don't need to zoom further than 105mm. If I had bought a 18-55mm as most begineer do, I would have needed shortly to buy the 55-200mm, which means carrying two lenses for most occasions. The one thing I regret not doing sooner was to buy the prime lens 35mm f1.8. It's a game changer and an essential lens in my bag. I use it every time in the night (when I don't have my tripod) and indoors it really shines too. I bought some other equipment which goes from a photography bag to a lens cleaning kit. It'd be boring to talk about them all. 

One thing I quickly realised is that photography would be an expensive hobby. In my opinion it's really worth it. I practice photography at least once a week now and I've met dozens of people through photowalks. I've been able to capture great images of friends and family, pictures they like. Photography led me to spend a lot of time in places I wouldn't have discovered or simply walked through without stopping by. More importantly photography changed the way I see the world around me. It may seems a big statement but other photographers will understand the feeling. Now I notice how light is changing, how it affects architecture and people faces. If I see fast moving clouds I think that it'd be a great opportunity for daylight long exposure photography. I am now aware all year long of sunrise and sunset hours. I'll wait for the golden light and the blue hour.

As I said before, I've learned a ton and I still have so much to explore and learn. I can't wait to see what I can produce in the next few years. As the idioms say "practice makes perfect".