Below are the five steps to better photography
Attend a class
Find a real class on photography. Not a YouTube Video. Not an online course. A real in person face to face class with an instructor.
Such a class offers several advantages. You can have direct and immediate interaction with the instructor and other students. It provides opportunities to network with others who share both your interest in photography but also your interest to learn. I do support reading, YouTube videos, online courses, and blogs (like this one) however at the same time I understand the limitations to these venues and look at them as supplemental to real face to face learning.
Get a mentor
Finding a mentor may often be a challenge. This challenge can become more difficult in small towns and rural areas. Mentoring is a two-way street. There must be an advantage for both the mentor and mentoree. A mentor doesn’t have to be a professional photographer but rather someone whose work you look up to and admire. A mentor also needs to have a sound understanding of the basics of photography as well as some advanced techniques.
When searching for a mentor make sure they also have an understanding of lighting (both supplemental and natural), exposure, focus, composition.
Learn to critique
Learn to critique the work of others. Once you have an understanding of critiquing the work of others you can apply it to your own work. Once you learn to critique your own work there should be no surprises when others critique your work as you will have probably already realized the good and bad components of your own image.
Learning to critique your own work will also give you tools to work to improve during the next session since you know where you can improve your own work.
Learning how to critique photographs will also help you learn how to analyze lighting, camera position, depth of field, focus areas of photographs you like so that you can apply those same techniques to your own work.
This is one of the most crucial components of a photograph. Remember the term photograph is “light” + “graph” so painting or drawing with light. Without light, there is no photograph. Learn to see and control light, even natural light. Learn how to use flash and supplemental lighting. This area alone will take your photography to the next level and beyond.
Learn photography basics
Last but certainly not least, learn the basics of photography. Focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO. Learn how each of these components works, often together to create your images. So many times I find new and experienced photographers who don’t know how to control these aspects on their own, allowing their cameras to make decisions for them. This often leads to out of focus subjects, too much or too shallow a depth of field, over or underexposure.
When I get a new student or mentoree one of the first things we cover are basics. I re-visit the basics myself on a regular basis to keep them fresh and sharp in my mind.
You will notice now where in this article did I mention post-processing. Once you have a solid understanding of these five concepts then you are ready to move onto enhancing photographs through the use of post-processing.
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