Getting better at Photography #3: That one thing you can do….

I have been asked on many occasions what is one thing I can do to get better at photography? My answer without hesitation is always: take more photos. I don’t subscribe to the hard and fast rule that many old grizzled photographers adhere to that your first 10,000 photos are your worst, because in all honesty, it can be a lot more than 10,000 shots before you start to get good. Becoming a good photographer is a lot like learning a musical instrument. You need to study the basics of playing the instrument, and practice playing while the whole time learning to hear the instrument. While I am sure there has been a number of people who picked up a guitar for the first time and in a day or two became proficient, this is certainly not the rule, learning to play the guitar takes patience, time and tolerance to build up the callouses on your fingers. Learning to be a good image maker takes time to learn to see the light, compose your shot and build the callouses on your ego when someone tells you that your work is junk.

Sometimes, the thing that can hold you up when learning a new skill is you. The days that you need to force yourself to pick up the camera and take some pictures are the days that you likely will make images that you hate, or want to delete right away, but those are the days that are the most important. The days that you are inspired and want to shoot are easy. If you find it difficult to think of something to shoot, consider a 365 photo challenge. There are a million of them on the internet just Google it. They will give you a task for each day of the year, some days it will be pets or a line or a shape. You don’t even need to post the images for critique, you really just need to go through the motions of taking the picture and thinking about what the task for the day means to you in terms of photography. Like learning to play the guitar, thinking about photography and how you would compose a shot can be as important as actually taking the shot. Not inspired? Consider going to the store and buying some flowers and making a nice still life. Shoot it by an open window and observe how the light falls on the subject and figure out how you need to set your camera to take a correct exposure. Previsualize the image in your mind and then actually go through the motions of taking the shot. You may not end up with a prize winning image of those gladiolas, but you will have thought about the image and then executed it.

Practice Practice Practice!

Get out there and take some photographs!