Photography is tricky. As easy as it seems to just snap the shutter, there’s a lot more that goes into the photo as a form of art. So, beginners are often surprised to find they struggle when they first pick up a camera. In the following conversation, Tony and Chelsea Northrup discuss ten points where many photographers go wrong, as well as the steps they can take to improve as artists:
- Give yourself time. Some people have a natural eye for composition. Others have a knack for picking up new technology. But nobody is a master photographer their first time holding a camera. It’s important not to get immediately discouraged as a beginner and give up before even having an opportunity to improve.
- Never stop practicing. If you want to grow as a photographer, practice is a necessity. Work with intention and try to be mindful of strengthening your skills. Many resources provide guided exercises that can be useful for those that aren’t sure where to start practicing.
- Tell a story with each photograph. If you make photographs that are skin deep, they won’t be able to capture much attention. Go beyond shooting sunsets, flowers, butterflies, and “pretty” subjects. Instead, aim for your work to be compelling.
- Return to the past. Look back on your old work and try your best to identify its strengths and weaknesses. Apply the observations you make as you move forward, and you’ll be sure to see some significant changes over time.
- Try something new. Tackle new techniques to expand your skill set. If you aren’t pushing yourself, you can’t expect to progress. There’s an endless amount of information readily available to us all—take advantage of it. The more you learn, the more well rounded you become as a photographer.
- Appreciate what others bring to the table. Branch out and see what others are doing rather than focusing solely on yourself. Look for inspiration everywhere and look for fellow photographers producing interesting work. Try to figure what makes their work compelling and use that information to form goals of your own.
- Study photographic history. The greats of the past were great for a reason. Try to find out what separated those individuals from the fold and how they fit into the context of art history. From there, research the artists that influenced their work, as well as how their work has influenced contemporary photographers
- Don’t shrug off constructive criticism. Hearing feedback about your photographs can be difficult, but it’s important not to take others’ advice personally. However, if you entirely disregard constructive criticism, it’s easy to plateau. Respect the opinions of others and try to avoid getting defensive.
- Work together. Collaborating with other artists can be a very fulfilling experience. Everyone has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Bringing in someone who excels in an area in which you struggle can make for an overall stronger body of work for both yourself and your peers.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Great work is often controversial or polarizing. In order to make great work, you can’t be held back by a fear of being imperfect. Leave your comfort zone and put your photographs out there. Take risks. Going outside the norm is the surest way of generating interest around your art.
Do you agree with the points made here?
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