Ask yourself a question.
What made you start with photography?
Why is this question important?
We all started somewhere. We all remember a point in time when we held the camera and felt the weight of it and an ecstatic feeling wrapped our consciousness for a while. It was the sudden flash of euphoria that comes either by the realization of the power this tool offers or by realizing how much you love making photos.
My journey started in 2009 when I first experienced the joy of taking photos. It was mid-April in Singapore.
A green grassland glowing in the midday sun, glistening water in the canal behind it. Not quite a photo opportunity considering the time of the day. But a chord struck in my heart and an urge to capture it. Resultant photo, however, was nothing compared to the photos I make now, but it gave a never-before joy. Before that day photography was just one of the travel chores. But that day it transformed into something more.
Often times we forget that initial feeling of joy and wonder and overindulge in either the technicalities, following rules or making ‘ Likes Magnet’ photos. It is, however, turns out to be a counter-productive endeavor. Because it kills that Joy. And if it is not there, what is the point?
A few thousand likes and then what next? This number becomes a benchmark and we start making photos, not the ones we want to but the ones that give us the dopamine fix that we get with the likes. A new benchmark gives us high and as lower the number goes as depressing it feels.
Below are a few points to note to keep the joy alive.
Make your photos your own
Photography is a personal expression or sometimes reflection of it. As we look for inspiration in other’s photos we sometimes unconsciously try to look with their eyes too. Which results in photos which are neither your own and obviously nor theirs.
So shoot what moves you, keep the visual guidelines in mind but do not make them hard and fast.
Style is intrinsic
We all must have heard ” Develop your own style”. This phrase is often misunderstood. The style is not just the filters/presets you use or the way you post process your images. It rather includes much more. The way of expression and what techniques you use for it (e.g. I use long exposures to express silence in my photos). The reason it is intrinsic because a photo is made within your mind before it takes form in the frame.
There is a plenty of information out there about how to make better photos, books and videos and a lot of free advice on the internet. Imbibing all of that knowledge, however, won’t improve your photography as drastically as you would expect.
In photography, learning happens when you practice and experiment. Experimentation helps you develop firsthand knowledge which becomes part of who you are.
Social Media sucks as a feedback system
Seek feedback not likes
To grow in photography, it is important to get critical feedback. You can ask for photo reviews by senior photographers you admire. However, on social media, it is very difficult to grasp the undivided critical attention of the viewer and number of likes for that matter, is deceiving as a feedback metric.
Shoot with a theme/purpose
Shooting with a theme or purpose in mind can be a challenging but a very rewarding exercise.
When you grow and move towards professional photography, you will always find yourself shooting for a specific purpose or a specific message that needs to be conveyed with photos. Having visual storytelling experience will give you an edge in the market.
Take your camera for a walk
The most important of all, use your camera daily. Take at least one thoughtful photo daily.