As beginners in photography, people are often faced with information overload. The Internet is full of resources on photography which doesn’t apply to beginners always and it results in confusion. No matter what you choose to follow, in the end, it is only a quest for betterment and of ways to make good photos.
Do you remember when you saw a good photo last time? What did it look like?
Of course, it was a good photo. But maybe it wasn’t good at all for someone else.
Because, like every other thing in the world, a photograph is subject to personal tastes & preferences.
Now you must be wondering how can then one make a good photo?
The answer is simple, make photos that you find good. And keep doing that because it’s a long and continuous process. Because we may accept or not, our definition of ‘good’ keeps changing as we grow as photographers. Like most of the photographers would agree that when we started photography, we were amused by the pictures with blurred background. It felt good and we somewhere tried to replicate the effect in our photos. Many of us bought our first prime lens, nifty fifty with a wide aperture for the same reason. Only later to realize, there is more to photography than just fancy-looking photos. And gradually during our learning process, the element of awe moves from shallow depth of field to more meaningful things in a photo. But striving to learn is the first step because the growth process stops when you stop learning.
To further your learning, take note of the below points.
Stay a learner
When it comes to photography, no matter how much you know, there is always a mountain of knowledge waiting to be climbed. Learning should not only limit to photography as an art form but also gaining the industry knowledge. There are a plenty of photographers out there and if you’re hoping to be a professional in photography, you should know what kind of photos sell?, What skill-set is required?, How do current photographers make a living?, Earning possibilities etc. Practice & reading are also important for growth.
Know your gear
Before sitting in the driver’s seat, one must know how does the car work & where are the controls. Same goes for the camera, to increase your chances of making good images and having control of the camera, you must know how it works and what is it capable of. Knowing what can your gear do can help you a lot in situations. The best way to do this is reading the camera manual and trying every feature available. Photo opportunities pass you by every moment and no opportunity knocks twice. In that case, having a camera you know well, will help you turn your photographic visions in real photos.
Focus on the composition
As beginners, we focus a lot on the settings of the camera and learning how to shoot in manual mode. Though it is true, learning these technicalities of the exposure does provide us tools for the creative expression but these are not all of them and are comparatively easier to learn. Composition in photography, in simple words, means the conscious arrangement of visual elements.
The composition is what, where and how of the elements within the frame. There are composition guidelines which help you in making the image interesting. With practice and enough trial & error, this knowledge becomes part of you.
Read photography books
This is the most important advice for any photographer. What you learn from books, you can never learn via the internet. Books still hold the treasure of knowledge which is beyond the world wide web. One of the first books I read on photography was Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. This book helped me develop a photographic vision and one of the books I would recommend to every beginner in photography.
Learn from masters
One of the best ways to give your photos a vision is by following the work of masters. Learning from masters involve reading photos and text and understanding the thought process behind the great photos. The process opens up your mind and gives you a new perspective. Which in turns helps you in making better photos.
Take photography workshops
Everything can’t be learned through the internet. Though as I mentioned above, books are a great source of knowledge but having someone teach you is altogether a different experience. Not only do you learn and retain more but also get real-time valuable feedback on your work. Workshops are the best when done in small groups and under someone who is not only a good photographer but also have good teaching abilities. Workshops do fall on the costlier learning options but it certainly is not the costliest. And ignorance always costs more in the long run than photography workshops.
Create personal photography projects
A personal project is the one where you take photos for yourself but like all other projects, there are some set guidelines. There is no third-party involved. Working on personal projects can help you develop self- discipline in photography and at the same time make you innovative about the photographic process. It will make you think on your feet. it prepares you for professional projects. Some examples of personal projects are 24Hours project, wherein you click photos every hour and by the end have at least 24 photos, 1 for each hour. 365 Days Project, wherein you click at least one photo every day. The good thing about such projects is that you can develop your own and set your own guidelines.
Shoot every day
Photography, in the end, is a way of self-expression. Like when learning a new language, the expression is developed by developing vocabulary, learning sentence formation, micro and macro refinement. Developing expression takes efforts and time. The more often you practice the better you become. Shooting daily will make you know yourself, what drives you and what kind of photos you want to take. And familiarity with the gear also comes as a benefit with consistent practice.
Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
-Henri Cartier Bresson
One of the biggest mistakes beginners do is they don’t put efforts to learn post processing. However, it does not matter for aspiring street photographers. Post-processing in some genres like street and documentary is penalized. But if you’re into any other type of photography, be it product, portraits, wedding, fashion, travel or landscape, you’re going to need post-processing skills to make competitive work.
When it comes to learning in photography, you always have a mountain to climb and if you think otherwise you limit your own growth. There is always a lot more left to be known. So stay curious and keep the joy of taking photos alive.