I was asked the other day how someone who has started photography with a great new camera can begin learning how to take great images and become a better photographer. This is a question that pops up everywhere in forums and discussion groups across the internet. It’s probably the reason you have arrived here at PictureCorrect, looking for advice on how to become more proficient with your photography.
There is no simple answer to this question, but we can give you some keys as to how and where you can start your photography journey. So, how do you take your photography to the next level?
1. Define yourself as a photographer
What on earth does this mean? It is quite simple. What it means is to determine what makes you tick as a photographer. It’s pointless heading in the direction of a particular photographic genre that really does not ring any bells for you. I don’t enjoy landscape photography, but the world of close-ups really excites me. What excites you in life? What are your interests and hobbies?
By getting a better understanding of who you are and what you enjoy as a person, you’ll get some insight as to what kind of photographer you may become. Knowing this forms the basis of what kind of knowledge acquisition you should pursue in your photographic journey. Based on this you will know what books to buy, online forums to join, and the type of course you should enroll in. Take some time out now to write down some ideas about what you like and what interests you and see if they will help define you as a photographer.
2. Decide on your photographic direction
Is photography a passion or a pastime? Is it something you can see yourself doing as a serious hobby, or would you like to make it a profession? Understanding this is going to help you decide how much time and money you will put into it and what type of learning you should pursue. If becoming a serious amateur is your goal then the books, research, and course prospects will be different than if you’re heading toward a career in photography. You may even combine the two and focus as an amateur with the possibility of progressing toward becoming a professional. As Stephen Covey says, “Always begin with the end in mind”—even if it is several years down the road.
3. Determine which way you learn best
All of us acquire knowledge in a variety of ways and at different speeds. Just because you learned in a certain way at school doesn’t mean that this is the way you have to learn photography. I love reading and have a library of photography books and courses. When I read, I learn, and it is an informal process. I can learn as much from books as someone sitting in a classroom. That’s me. But how do you learn? If sitting in a lecture works for you, then go for it. Others will find that being part of a photography club and learning practically is best for their learning process. Whether it’s a formal approach, like courses and classes, or an informal one-on-one practical approach, find the right one for you.
4. Find the right material or method
So you now have a better understanding of your photographic direction, you’ve defined yourself as a photographer, and you know the best learning approach for you as an individual. What next? There are just so many options open to you. Now is the time to exercise some care unless your resources are unlimited.
By knowing your direction, you can focus on the method. I love bookstores, so my approach would be to buy a cup of coffee at a good bookstore and spend a few hours in their photography section looking for books that appeal to me before making my purchase. If you have decided on a more formal approach, search your local community newspapers, bulletin boards, and magazines for courses or classes. Do a little research, ask questions, and make inquiries about the various options open to you. Don’t jump at that first one that appeals to you. Take a little time to decide, because the best one might be just around the corner.
5. Focus on your photography
This may seem strange advice to someone who is looking to take their photography to the next level. I talk from experience. Don’t get bogged down in the learning process and spend more time learning how to do it than actually doing it. Get out and practice your craft. Experiment! Try out the techniques and tips you are leaning. There is never a time like now to start shooting more.
Take a little time to read through these steps carefully and put them into practice. A good foundation to any venture you engage in is the first step in its successful completion. It will save you time and money and get you to your goal faster. As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Happy shooting!
About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos: a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.
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