Saturday, January 10, 2015

5 Quick Tips For Better Photography

Photography Is A Drug - Stallion Springs, California
I came across something recently, and, since this is a new year (which means new goals and new beginnings), I thought it might be good to share it here. Obviously I have put it into my own words. Below are five quick tips to perhaps get a little more out of your photography moving forward.

Get Uncomfortable

I recently said that photography should be uncomfortable. If you are comfortable, that's when you are most likely going to be creatively stagnant. Comfort is an enemy of creativity

You might be comfortable with a technique. You might be comfortable with your gear. You might be comfortable with a location. Perhaps you are comfortable with a style or genre. Whatever it is, find ways to make yourself uncomfortable. It is when you are uncomfortable that you'll grow as a photographer.

Seek Criticism

I was taught in photography school that peer review is an essential part of photography. Why? Because we are biased of our own work. We put time, thought, energy, and money into a photograph, so we automatically think that it is better than it actually is. We attach ourselves to our work.

Someone that isn't attached can be more objective. They can spot the things that you missed or ignored. They can see what is good and/or bad about your image better than you can.

Not all criticism is created equal and not all criticism is constructive. You have to find someone who's opinion you trust. They don't even need to be a photographer. In fact, sometimes it is better if they are not a photographer because they care less about gear and technique. What you want is someone who is intuitive to what is good art and why.

Once you've received criticism from someone who's opinion you trust, don't be defensive. Consider what they've said and if you can apply whatever it is to future photographs.

Make New Connections

I used to think that photography was a one-man sport. You go by yourself to some lonely spot, and all by yourself you capture an image that no other person had anything to do with. But more and more I'm realizing that photography is as much about relationships as it is about light.

I said make new connections, and that could mean follow someone on Facebook or join some forum, but that's not really what I'm talking about. Internet friendships are not the same as real-life friendships (at least not usually). Make a photography friend.

Or, better yet, involve your friends and family in your photography. Use photography to strengthen your already existing relationships (instead of distancing yourself, which is too often what happens with photography).

Look At The Past

I like to look back at my older work from time-to-time. Often I'm shocked at how bad my photography was. At the time I thought it was good, but now I can see that it wasn't. That gives me perspective on how far I've come. It also illustrates that what I'm doing now will not be as good as what I will create in the future, just as long as I continue to strive for improvement.

Sometimes I'm surprised at how good an image was. I thought it was good at the time, and time has proven me right. It's a good confidence builder. Other times I realize that the image was not bad, but could have been edited better. Occasionally I'll re-edit an older image to make it better.

There are plenty of lessons you can learn from your own image. You can get a better idea of where you are going by seeing where you've been. It's good to look back at your work every once in a while.

Time Management

Effectively managing your time is critical to photography (and life) success. There are so many things in life trying to grab your attention. You have to decide what's important and what is not. If something is important, allow it to have some of your time and attention. If something is not important, don't allow it to steal away too much of your time and attention.

Television is a big time-sucker. The computer can be, too. Post-processing photographs can take an incredible amount of time, so it is important to develop a workflow that minimizes the time that it takes.

Don't waste too much time with meaningless things. Consider how you are using time and if you could better allocate the minutes in a day.

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