All photographers want to take brilliant photos, and many of us do. However, there is always room for improvement. Photography isn't like a car that doesn't need mending, of course if we fiddle with it under the lid then who knows what may go wrong. Photography is more like driving the car. Most drivers are comfortable going down minor roads, using the signals, and obeying the law, then there is motorway driving, which is a little more intense. We have to use our brain a bit more when going quickly. Then, there's race driving. That takes a whole new set of skills, many of which may be counter-intuitive to the basic minor road A-B journey we grew up on. This is where we have to adapt a whole new mindset and learn new skills. Photography is like this, the more we want to excel at our hobby or profession, the more we have to learn, acknowledge, and take on board. Here are some rules of thumb that help people stay on the right side of fresh and within the boundaries of quality.
Get A Teacher
Find someone who has been doing it for longer and has more clicking hours than you, and listen to them. It's easy to get a free place on a real-time educational photography course, and it may tide you over for the duration. While you're doing that, network and discover people who take photos like you, or like how you want to, and then simply make contact. You'll know soon enough if they're prepared to give any advice or time to you. Take it easy though, no one likes a bull in a china shop or an excited puppy wagging its tail in their face. Be smooth, genuine, and relaxed. Then just mention your photos and see if any wisdom comes your way.
Learn To Spot Constructive Criticism
No one likes to be told they're no good or that they should just try harder. Better luck next time is not a good way of helping someone out. If a person is genuinely your friend or at least has enough decency to be real with you then they will offer constructive criticism. Rather than saying it's poor, or that it's rubbish, or any other negative point of view, constructive criticism is positive. It doesn't put it in a way that takes away from your work, but in a way that adds to it. A well stated piece of constructive criticism will begin with an if. If you change this, or do this other thing, or adapt this method, etc. then you will have this (example). This is a way of assisting without downgrading, and when we can learn to accept positive critique in this way, we will immediately begin to benefit.
Seek Out Fellow Photographers
Now is the time to join a group or a club that takes photos. You will find them online and if you're lucky in your local community. If there really are no photography groups where you live then you've just found a hole in the market. OK it may not be a paid one but that doesn't matter if you enjoy it. A small subscription fee for photography outings may not be a bad idea though, as long as it's not extorting people. Be fair. However, once you are in a community of photographers, you'll find a mentor or teacher figure, you'll find constructive criticism, and you'll find ample opportunity to learn new tricks of the trade. You'll make lots of new friends too.
Don't Just Take Photos
If you're serious about photography then it must be your medium for expression. Choose a project and do it, show your work,and aim for heights not reached before. Think about clever or interesting things to photograph. Choose themes that speak volumes beyond the pictures themselves. It's always worth remembering that with your project, you want it to be seen and explored. This means it will inspire and encourage others to follow in your footsteps. So choose wisely, and think about things that leave plenty of space for further perspectives and discussion. This means that when/if a person chooses to do something similar, likely they might mention your project giving you more exposure. No pun intended.
Don't Go Round In Circles
We all have our local patch and we tend to walk the same routes to various places. This means that we'll likely have loads of photos of the same place or the same thing. This is okay, it's normal to be like this. However we need to expand our horizons a bit more if we want to make an impact. Try to find something new for you and look into ways of exploring something not necessarily what you'd first pick. Be inventive and creative with your destinations. Sometimes asking why a photographer chose the shot is enough to make it a good photo.
Spot A Genius, Stick To The Genius
Masters are the ones to watch. When we find someone who is really good at what they do, we naturally absorb their techniques, methods, and mentality from continually seeing them. We watch and we learn. Being able to do this is natural for all of us however spotting the ones to watch is the real key. Ask what we want, find someone who has it, and see what we can learn from them about how to get it. This could be a style, a technique, a fanbase, or a stall somewhere that people buy from Whatever it is you're looking to grow into, find the person who did it before you. We don't have to know them, or actually talk to them, we just have to pay attention to what they put out, read what they say, and revise their work.
There's nothing that will stifle a career more than thinking we have it all already. We know that there's always something more to learn. People are constantly putting out new ideas, perspectives, and even reasons for being, so we can constantly take on more and more knowledge Read as many books about your subject as you can, keep them and read them again. Check out this article about photographic theory. If you see an opportunity to learn something or try a new style, take it. Complacency is killer for any artist. Go now and find books. And don't forget to grab your free course in it.
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