Regardless if you’ve been working as a professional photographer for some years already or if you’re just beginning the journey with a camera — you must have heard a couple of harsh words on your work;
- Your photographs are dull and predictable.
- These pictures are fine as long as you’re just a hobbyist.
- With photo editing software I could become a photographer, as well.
- Expensive photography gear won’t make you a pro!
We’ve all been there — deep in the pit of self-doubt as artists. How to quite down the haters, to put the constructive critic into effect, not to give up, and to keep doing better work? Let’s follow the process step by step.
End The Photo Editing Software Dilemma
Digitalisation is a controversial matter in many fields — education, literature, games, and photography, as well. That raises a dilemma and the question of to use editing software or not to use? The answer is simple — use responsibly!
Post-processing your pictures is not a sin unless you don’t pay attention to the work with your camera itself. The main reason for the editing software fuss is disregarding the art of working with the photography equipment.
People tend to forget that digital cameras have different modes, too. E.g., you can find landscape photography mode on your DSLR as well as specified software settings such as landscape lightroom presets.
And does the variety of working modes make digital cameras worse than analogue ones? No, it doesn’t! Different modes not only make the photographer’s work easier but also give them more possibilities for creative thinking and develop their own workflow and style.
Make Friends with Film Cameras
Even though the digitalisation of photography and post-processing shouldn’t be considered as an artistic regression nor the real artist’s enemy, it doesn’t mean that we can just toss analogue cameras aside and forget they ever existed.
Getting to know the history of photography is necessary to understand what we have to deal with today, like where different photography trends and techniques come from and to develop a deep respect for photography as a kind of craft.
Experimenting with a film camera will help you understand how your DSLR works and how to use it more consciously.
The limits of film photography will also make you a more aware and attentive artist and a more careful camera user. You won’t be able to shoot as many pictures as with your DSLR. Photographic film has a determined number of frames that you can use and you have to be extremely careful while changing films in the camera — it can get overexposed very easily. However, you can find tutorials on overexposed films restoration with a little help of image editing software.
Come closer or walk a few steps away, squat or lay down on the ground with your camera. Photography hates laziness! Being in constant motion while shooting is something you can learn most effectively with film camera especially because of its limited focus length — and you can’t change the lens!
One of my favourite exercises is shooting buildings at different times of the day from completely different angles and positions. They can be just as impressive models as people if you use enough creativity. And they won’t move even an inch so you’re forced to do all the work.
Learn First and Then Stretch the Rules
Just as in any other kind of art, there are basic rules and traditional techniques also in photography. To become a respected photographer it’s essential not only to develop your own style and way of thinking but also to be well-educated.
The most famous example is the work of Picasso — people see his abstract paintings and say that they could doodle something like that, as well. What they can’t see, it’s Picasso’s solid artistic education. Before he created his widely recognisable style, he had received proper education first.
Once you get familiar with the basics of photography, you’ll be ready for experimenting with the classic composition rules, ways of framing, sources and direction of light, etc.
If you’re a professional photographer already and have all the technical knowledge acquired but can feel that you’re lacking the artistic sense, don’t hesitate to reach for the basics again! There’s no shame in re-educating yourself or to complement your current knowledge.
Don’t Avoid the Company — Participate and Contribute!
Regardless of how much of an introverted, individualistic artist you are, you just can’t avoid the company of other photographers. Such isolation is actually unhealthy for your own art and slows down your artistic development.
Contact with both professionalists and hobbyists lets you get a wider perspective on your work. Honest people not involved in your work directly are a source of constructive criticism. They might also give you refreshing tips on your workflow that can easily become rigid and inefficient.
You can both participate and contribute no matter what your level of photographic revelation is! Sign up to facebook groups and special platforms for artists generally or photographers specifically. Look for local photography clubs and courses in your city. If you can’t find any, organise a meeting of befriended artists, yourself!
Read and Admire
Read textbooks, manuals, magazines, blogs… just keep reading and improve your photography knowledge constantly. Don’t forget to educate yourself on art generally, as well. Films and paintings can be a great dose of inspiration for you.
Admiring other artist’s work is crucial for your development, as well. Look for photo galleries and exhibitions, film and photography museums, and absorb their spirit! Don’t stop educating yourself and practice every single day. The engagement and hard work will pay off quicker than you imagine!