I've always loved photography, but it wasn't until college, though, that I became interested in real photography (more than just snapshots). My parents bought an old, metal framed Mintola XD-11 for me 10 years ago, a film body. I read as much as I could but the most useful books I read early on were "National Geographic Photography Field Guide : secrets to making great pictures" by Peter K. Burian and "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan F. Peterson. I highly recommend both of those books.
I joined a photography forum, Fred Miranda (fredmiranda.com), in 2005 and went digital with a Canon 20D in 2006. Two years ago, I became very serious about photography and studied everyone from Richard Avedon to Henri Cartier-Bresson. And one year ago, I began to seriously study documentary photographers (similar to photojournalists), a style which suits my own vision. I won't even try to list all of the photographers I read about and studied over the last year but I will discuss them and their books in future posts.
One thing I love about photography is that you don't have to have formal training to take worth while shots. I never had any. Through study and practice/experience, I also learned to be myself. If I tried to shoot like every good photographer I came across, I'd never find my own voice. I would, instead, go chasing the latest fads and techniques and only crack the surface of my potential. Instead, I learned to focus on content, timing and composition; content focuses on finding something true about your subject and capturing that, something genuine rather than contrived or ideal. I don't direct my subjects in my documentary work. I don't call attention to myself. It isn't important that they smile for me or even look in my direction, though it's okay if they choose to do so. I can tell a true story if they are being themselves, immersed in whatever it is they are doing. I am an observer.
I'm so glad you visited the site and I hope it helps you to grow as a photographer.
You can view my professional work at www.danielshawphotography.com
My gear: I use all Canon equipment. 1Ds mk2, 5D, 16-35 f/2.8 mk2, 35 f/1.4 L, 85 f/1.8, and 135 f/2 L, 580 ex2. You can shoot documentary work with zooms or primes, it doesn't matter. You can do it with less gear than I have.