Looking back this morning I couldn’t help but think of how much I have learned about photography over the years. I would say the majority of photographs I have taken are really snapshots masquerading as photographs. : )
Many professional photographers say your first 10,000 images are worthless…. to a point I have to agree. When I looked at my old camera I learned that I have taken over 150,000 images with just that camera! So I estimate that I have probably taken over 200,000 pictures. So What did I learn?
The camera type is meaningless!
True, a nice camera can provide cool features like interchangeable lens’, fire remote flash’s, and give you the ability to manually set a variety of features. However, the camera is just a dumb tool. The camera doesn’t tell you to move to the left or find a different point of view. It doesn’t tell you to that you should lie to your subject by telling them to relax you need to take some test shots all awhile you’re getting your best shots because your client is relaxed and their personality comes out. ( great trick by the way ) All cameras take pictures, it’s the photographer that works the camera. The person behind the lens that know the strength and weaknesses of the tools. It’s fact that a good photographer can use anything. Think of the old photographic masters, most of their cameras they used were light-years behind ours.
Read more than you photograph.
The public library has tons of books on photography. At first I just read the books about digital photography, that was a huge mistake! The books were built around the technology of the day and became quickly obsolete. Instead read books about exposure, color theory, people positioning, landscape formats and a host of other topics. Lastly, read books about master photographers, after a while you will see many striking similarities in their work and things you have read in your books.
Have a mission.
When you go practice the things you have learned give yourself an assignment. This will help you focus. I play this game with myself often. It’s great on the pretty days where you feel like being creative but don’t know what to shoot.
Last month I went to the Baltimore Zoo with my family. I decided that my mission was going to be to come back with at least 15 pictures of facial expressions of people while they looked at the animals. If I worked as a professional photographer I would have a mission of the day e.g. taking a families picture, a bride and grooms reactions or a dog catching a frisbee.
Repeat after me… I will back up my pictures online!
Can you imagine starting up your computer one day, then trying to access your back up drive and it’s not there?
This is just what happened to me. I started my computer and went to look for something on a removable drive I used as my storage place and ……….. nothing. I lost everything I have done for almost 3 years! Someone might of well have broken into my home and stole it. *note* It has been over 5 minutes since I wrote the last line. Tears welled in my eyes because of all that I lost. How stupid was I not to back up online! Oh well. Live and learn. So please learn from me. I know use an online storage company.
Learn to say thank you!
There is always a time to critique your work, it’s never when someone is telling you they like it.
It’s rude and you might make the person giving you a compliment feel like a bozo because they gave you a compliment.
Get opinions from professional photographers, not amateur shutter bugs.
I am part of a few peer review groups that offer constructive criticism. There is real value, however until you know the players offering advice, take it with a grain of salt. Some people like to rain on people’s parades because they have no parade of their own.
Show only your best work!
I broke this rule time after time. I wanted people to see my wide scope of subjects I could photograph so instead of showing three different pictures I would show three hundred! I am glad I broke this addiction. to give this example some life, recently I uploaded water drops called ” water drops” ( I know not very clever ) I only showed a few pictures in all but from each session I took over 400! *Note To add to this Job Conger said it best when he commented and I thank him! : ) ”I believe photographers should show only their best work because showing work that is not their best waters the whiskey, so to speak. It dilutes, it coimpromises the sum total positive impression others react to when they see your work as a whole in a proof sheet to a client or at a gallery. There should be no picture shared the photographer does not consider one of his or her best. Only first place finishers in qualification heats compete in the championship games. Play not, photograph not, for the second place finish in the qualifying heat. Play for the championship wth every photograph you take. ”
What is the point of doing something if it is not fun? Photography is a great way to capture memories of an event or thing. It’s like pausing time on life. So go out with whatever camera or camera phone you have and take a picture of something, Have fun while you’re doing it and try to grow.
About the images above
The images I used are very old images I took years ago with a simple point and shoot camera. While I do not think they will be in a museum, I do this they are great shots from a guy with a camera. I love that I can look at them and see the progression as a photographer and artist. So if you are where I was a few years ago and are frustrated that you’re not taking awesome pictures, keep pressing on. You will get there! : )