Shelton Muller, a Melbourne photography trainer, spoke at our club last Wednesday. I just want to record here for my own reference. There were three main items (not in his exact same words): 1) importance of composition; 2) shoot according to the light; 3) choose your lens well.
The first point was actually uninteresting for me, as I have heard the same things over and over again.
On the second point, Shelton showed the different ways to use available light to the photographer's advantage. Some photographers only shoot when the light is "right". That is not a bad thing to do, but it excludes one from attempting to use existing light creatively. Talk about paradigm shift.
The third point gets even more interesting. To summarize it, Shelton says "don't be a lens snob". Many cheaper third party lens will also get the work done; almost all the time, that is. Shelton also explained how to use the wide angles and the long zooms creatively. While some photographers think that the wide angle is only for capturing more of the scene, it can also be used to distort foreground perspective creatively. Likewise, while long zoom is useful for shooting distant object, it is also good for bringing the background closer and thereby maintain proportion of the human body. It also helps in blurring the distant background. Prime lenses, with its wide aperture, is good for shallow depth of field. To quote Shelton, the lens is the all-important "eye" and the camera body is just a dummy. So place more emphasis on the lens than on the body.