July 3, 2016

9 Reasons why engineering students should take photography as a hobby

Are you an engineering student? Are you tired of having your life revolve around your studies? I say “engineering student” because I am one myself but this goes for just about anybody!

1. It is a chick magnet

Photo shoot with my friend Charmaine

You are most probably a social outcast and would faint if a girl said hi to you (assuming you are attracted to females) but if you think this is silly, just take a look at my pictures. I’m not biased but girls love getting pictures taken of themselves, especially by a “photographer” (I don’t like calling myself a photographer…but that’s for another article). Photography can help you learn how to interact with different kinds of people especially if you end up doing street photography or shooting at events. It’s a good and easy way to get social.

2. It can be super technical

St James Walk

Bracketing, hyper-focal distance, SLR, mirror-less, f-stop, t-stop, aperture, shutter speed,  pentaprism, the list is endless. You should hear me speak “photographer” when I’m with fellow photography enthusiasts; it’s just so cool and geeky. On the real though, engineers love getting technical. We love to get to know how things work and if this is you, believe me you will love photography. It is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Getting to learn and experience first hand how light works, the mechanics behind taking a picture, the history behind photography, etc… If you take it serious enough, you might be tempted to just switch careers.

3. Capture it how YOU want it

Colourful beach huts at Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town.

Have you ever looked a full moon and be like “that’s a lovely sight let me take picture with my phone”… only to end up with a picture looking like one of Picasso’s paintings? Yeah that’s a problem your camera on automatic mode will never be able to solve. If you take up photography you will soon learn various techniques you could use to capture things the way you see them…and there’s a chance to be artistic too.

4. Memories die, pictures don’t!

chillin by the bench

You should watch this VSauce video at 18:30 in, Michael Stevens speaks about the Zipf Law and for a short period he mentions how humans forget at a rate that obeys Zipf’s Law. It’s easy to prove this. How many things do you remember from 10 years ago? Chances are, you’ve forgotten almost everything. I know there are years I don’t even remember anything special about them but I’m pretty sure a lot of fun things happened but I just simply forgot. If you take up photography, you will be able to document just about everything that happens in your life. I’m glad my parents took so many pictures while I was young. I personally enjoy browsing through old pictures and relive old memories with friends and family. The nostalgia is so real!

5. Learn to appreciate the beautiful world around you.

Ipod 5...Beats by Dre

I am sure you’ve seen breath taking pictures of the most random everyday objects, or photographers taking pictures at the most unnatural angles. Yeah photography does that to people. No matter who you are, when you take this hobby seriously enough, you will soon have the ability to notice the beauty in everything you come across. Trust me, road trips, hikes and walks along the beach will never be the same again.

6. Excuse to travel

Mercedes W211

As you learn to appreciate the magnificent art that photography is, you will naturally want to travel. Soon after I took up this hobby, I never wanted to settle down especially on those long boring days, or during school holidays. I was never satisfied and would visit random places just to get that next good picture. Depending on how deep my pocket was, I’d take a walk around the hood, a train to some new location around Cape Town or road trip to some close by location…but my pockets were never deep so stuck to walks and trains most of the time.

7. There are cameras everywhere

You do not need a professional looking camera to take photography as a hobby. I used my Galaxy S4 to take the 2nd part of the time-lapse in the video above.  In this modern age, there is a good chance you have a pretty good camera on you. Be it a small digital camera or a cellphone, anything that can take a picture can get you started. There is a misconception that one needs an expensive camera to take good pictures. Just watch this video of a guy who had a professional photo-shoot with an iPhone 3GS. If that doesn’t convince you enough, Flickr has a feature that allows you to browse pictures taken by a certain brand of camera, try it out here for pictures taken with an S3 Mini or here for iPhone 3GS.

8. It’s easy

Well sorta… getting started is pretty easy though. Almost everything I know about photography is from YouTube channels like Tony & Chelsea Northrup, Jared Polin (FroKnows), Matt Granger, only to mention a few. You probably miss most of your lectures and use videos to catch up so this is not unfamiliar territory. I remember the first video I watched on photography was “Understanding Exposure and Camera Settings” when I’d just bought my Canon 500D, tried to take a picture in manual mode and it came out totally white. There is also tonnes of on-line blogs, forums free and paid magazines, the list is endless. No matter how cheap you are, there is always something for you. But that’s the easy part I’m referring to. As time progresses it is up to you to grow and make yourself better. How hard that is depends on a variety of factors which will not be discussed here.

9. You don’t have much of a life anyway

If you are an engineering student, chances are you are occupied by books 95% of the time. I’m speaking from experience. One needs something to just free him/her from the stress involved with maintaining, or in most cases, saving those grades. Let’s try weigh the options:

  • Video Gaming – No you need a hobby to take you away from your room not keep you locked in. I was a gamer once before UCT made me re-evaluate my life. It can be exciting, but it’s not easy to make money off it, it potentially makes you anti-social (on-line gaming doesn’t count as socialising) and it can be pretty expensive if you want a really good gaming experience…
  • Movies and Series: Once again, we wanna get you away from the laptop and your bed. Movies and series should really be reserved for those days when you are soooooo tired and bored and don’t have much to do.
  • Camping – This one would be a such a cool hobby but you can’t just decide to take a study break and go camping during exams or one of those hectic test weeks so this one is out… (you can do camping expeditions for your photography too anyways so maybe not completely out)
  • Board Games – I’m not sure if this would count as a hobby but it would be a great way to get away from the books. Gives you a chance to socialise and keep the brain working but it’s not something you can just decide to do any time you get bored. Not everyone is free at your request and I’m not sure if board games are fun if they are solo events.
  • Travel – You are most probably broke. Student budget is real. Travelling is one of those things we see on those college movies but will never be able to do until maybe we start earning enough money…and you can’t just choose to travel when you get stuck studying anyway.
  • Photography! – Well that’s the whole point of this article isn’t it.