Photography - You Gotta Work At It

7 Building Blocks of Photography 2

Here’s the 500PX interview link.

I think it’s important for us to understand why we love photography? What is it about capturing images that excites us? Where does the desire to do it come from? And how do we ensure we’re consistently growing?

I think we have to stop being impatient for instant gratification. There are a number of software houses cashing in on this want from so many photographers.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I go on Facebook I get bombarded with ads for software that’ll supposedly take a crappy image taken in bad light and make it ‘amazing’ for me. Well where’s the satisfaction in that?

Sure, we have the instant gratification of getting a nice photo to post on our social media that’ll get us a few likes, but we can’t take ownership of that image ourselves. We know we didn’t take that photo. The one we took was actually crap because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I hear many new photographers (and some old school photographers too) say they want to ‘get it right in camera’ and that using programs such as Lightroom for post production is cheating. I disagree because in the past retouching was done in a darkroom and you had to have a good negative to make an amazing print. It’s the same with Lightroom. Bad original RAW = bad final image.

Do you want to be an accomplished photographer, or a shortcut to lots of likes?

We all want to feel accomplished with our work but there’s no shortcut. We have to do whatever it takes to learn what our camera controls offer us creatively and put in the work to gain experience. Being in the right place at the right time with your observational skills turned up to max is the only way to do this. Your camera certainly can’t deliver your photos for you because it’s only a tool to capture light on a sensor.

Of course you have to know how to control your camera

The good news is you really only need to be able to control exposure, focussing and understand how different focal lengths affect the image. Beyond this most camera controls are of little value. Some will help in some situations, but most of it’s guff put there by marketing people.

The harder part is knowing what you want your images to look like. Because make no mistake, that is within your power and is your responsibility. I find asking myself questions is the key.

  • What’s my purpose here?
  • Why do I want to shoot this photo?
  • What do I love about it?

Here’s a challenge for you. Before taking your next ten photos, ask yourself these questions. They’re not easy questions to answer but make the effort to do it because it’ll lead to clarity of your purpose. As you practise doing it you’ll begin to know what it is and that will lead to long term gratification and true fulfilment.

You know those little bursts of insight or inspiration?

We all get them from time to time and photographers must find a way to keep them alive. But how?

By getting ourselves inspired. Not just photographically. Any inspiration will work because it feeds our creativity. Don’t just look at photos, look to inspiring people from all walks of life. Read autobiographies and watch videos by people you look up to who’ve done something amazing.

Youtube is a goldmine of inspiration

Just search Inspiration and you’ll find 1000s of videos from Ted talks to personal stories by everyday people. If you find someone who really makes you come out in goose bumps, study them. Study the way they operate in the world, what makes them tick and especially how they think. If you can absorb some of their habits it’ll help you be more creative.

My long term inspiring photographer is Sabastiao Salgado. His story is fascinating as is his outlook on life as well as photography. My current fascination is Elon Musk. If ever there was a man who knew his purpose it’s Elon. If you don’t know who he is – Google him.

The final way to determine your goal and purpose is to practise all the time. Try different things, try shooting things you never tried before, photograph the same things but ask yourself how you could do it differently.

You saw Pauline’s images in the video. She came on one of my beginners one day workshops, got some pointers and since spent three years photographing something she loves at every available opportunity.

Pauline will sit for hours just observing behaviour and light and taking test photos so she knows where to be and when to shoot. Understanding these two things alone will improve your photography more than all the photo gadgets and gizmos put together. 

Is there any point having a dream...

...if you don’t at least try to make it happen? And if you are someone who continuously worries about which settings to use, please please please just learn what the controls do to the appearance of an image. Then work backwards from your goal for the image you are taking and that will tell you the settings you’ll need to shoot it.

I can teach you all you need to find the settings for any image, and if you do as I say you’ll be proficient with them in just five weeks. It’ll cost you half the price of a good quality filter and benefit you and your photos 1000 times more.

So stop wondering and saying how confusing it all is and do something about it. Invest in yourself with my Masterclass in Photography.

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