I was asked recently how I became a professional photographer. Did I go to college or university to study or was it all ‘just there’? In my case I fall somewhere in the middle, I would like to think that I have a natural eye for composition and subjects, whereas a lot of the technical knowledge I have learnt through a number of avenues although not through any structured college type courses.
I am the type of person that loves to know how things work, therefore if I see a photo I like, I will want to know how it was executed. I will research, read and then practice, practice, practice.
The internet is the greatest modern tool for research, not only are there millions of photos to admire and study, but there are also hundreds (thousands?) of sites providing educational material in blog, video, article and other formats all for free!
I am also continuously learning, whether that be refining existing techniques or experimenting with entirely new ones. Any respectable person in any field will be the same, everyday is honestly a school day! Anyone who claims to know all, or who is totally dismissive of new techniques or technology is not someone I would wish to work with. I’m not saying old techniques are not good, in fact totally the opposite as for example some of the most amazing photos are taken on film. But it would be close minded if a film photographer dismissed all work by a digital photographer as they disagreed with the format.
Topics I’m regularly reading about don’t just cover technical aspects such as lighting and editing, I’m also interesting in posing, equipment, editing techniques and much much more. If it can affect the finished product of a photo I want to learn about it.
I do like to believe that the constant learning also leads to a constant evolution of my work, and hopefully for the better! I only need look back at my photos from a few years ago to see how I have progressed, and I can only hope I will continue to progress positively.
So here are my top few tips to make everyday a school day for you to improve your photography
1. Take your camera everywhere. Be it your DSLR (preferably!) or a camera phone, have it on you at all times, there is nothing more frustrating than the perfect photo opportunity but no camera to hand.
2. Take a photo every day. It doesn’t need to be something ground breaking but take the time to take a photograph. Try and tell a story with the photo, make an everyday object interesting.
3. Read a photography article every day. Be it my blog or any other of the thousands out there. If there is a specific subject that interests you a google search will unveil all numbers of tutorials, videos and articles. There is no shortage of free information in addition to paid resources out there on the web.
4. Analyse your own photos. Look at your photos, what did you do right, what did you do wrong? How do you correct the mistakes and work on the strengths?
5. Analyse the photos of others. How did the photographer execute the image? What would you change to make the scene your own? Be wary though that you should never provide unsolicited criticism to a photographer, constructive or otherwise. Instead always look at an image in terms of what you would do differently to put your artistic stamp on the image.
So go forth and learn, and if you find any particular interesting articles please do share.