Become a Better Photographer by Putting Your Camera Down!
One of the most common dilemmas I hear about from my students is that they just don’t have the time to photograph. Sound familiar? I know it’s true for me and it seems that all too often, photography takes a back seat to some of the more mundane facets of every day life. So how do we continue to improve our photography when we can’t seem to find time to photograph?
It’s actually a 3-step process; it’s easy, it doesn’t require that you buy anything and you can do it without changing your daily routine…much.
Step 1. Put down your camera. Many try to learn photography through the law of averages. We go out with our camera and repeat the same mistakes over and over again hoping for different results. Stop the madness!
Step 2. Pay attention. There is beauty all around you. You could be stuck in traffic around sunset, watching a movie or reading an in-flight magazine. Each presents an opportunity to become a better photographer.
We tend to be passive observers of the world around us, and yet, we are constantly being bombarded with beautiful visuals. Each of these presents an opportunity to learn about yourself and, in turn, about your photography
Become and active observer and when you see something beautiful, ask yourself some questions. What do I like about it? Is it the light? Is it the subject matter? Is it the mood? What are the qualities that I find most beautiful and how are they created?
Why do this? You may not know yourself as well as you should and yet it’s your specific preferences that define your photography. The more that your preferences exist in your conscious mind the more effortless your photographic process will become when you finally see a subject you like and grab your camera. When your photographs contain the qualities and subjects that you like then you’ll start liking your photographs more.
Step 3. Feedback. There’s no better way to improve your photography than to hear feedback. In every workshop I teach I hear “Wow, I can’t believe how much I learned in the critiques!” Whether you are having your images critiqued, watching feedback on another photographers’ work, or giving your opinion to a fellow enthusiast, critique will improve your photography!
The process of breaking down an image and analyzing its strengths and weaknesses is a great way to learn what changes to make next time you find yourself in a similar situation. The ability to quickly describe both the positive and negative attributes of an image will slowly become second nature to you and soon you will find that the same process takes over when you are looking through your camera at a potential photographic subject. You will become more thoughtful and thorough with your compositions. You will be more purposeful with your camera controls and your images will become more compelling for your viewer and more satisfying to yourself.
Now put down your camera and improve your photography.
(Want some practice? Use the two images above and figure out how they were created, what you like about them and what you’d change. Leave your thoughts in the comments below).