I meet people in our shop every day who are drowning in advice. They have decided that the river of knowledge looks fine and plunged in…only to discover that it is deeper and colder that they expected. As they sweep past gurgling and thrashing, they want me to pull them out.
You see, they go to the internet for advice. And advice is given for free. And worth exactly what they pay for it, more often than not…There are official sites, unofficial sites, forums, fan blogs, and Nigerian scam sites. Frequently these last ones have the best photographic advice.
There is a fine line between not enough and too much reading. It is also a time-sensitive thing; leap in too soon for the information and all you get are company puffs and idiot speculation – go to the sites for advice too late and the camera you wanted is superceded and remaindered. The time frame can be as short as weeks.
The classic sign of information overload is the client with the looseleaf file of hand written notes and printer copies of computer screen listings – frequently annotated in colourful Texta. The person has 18 lines of enquiry going on with 36 of those lines intertwined between the front of the looseleaf and the back. If they have a friend who is an photographer they are likely to be in worse shape.
Helping out may be impossible. Some are too far gone and will drown in the information river and surface later as bloated corpses at the local library. Council workers will remove them and give them a decent burial.
For the ones that are still saveable I say:
Get a small camera. A simple one. Charge the battery and put in a card. Go take pictures. Save the pictures and look at them. If you like them, you are successful. Rejoice. Try to write down who the people are in the pictures as you will treasure this information in 40 years.
Turn off the internet…or use it to go look at pictures of kittens or naked ladies. You will feel better.