Photography has become both an extremely common profession and hobby. Since the gear and learning materials are so accessible and increasingly more affordable, we tend to take this particular kind of art for granted and usually consider it easy to master.
I mean, come on, what’s so difficult in taking a camera in your hand and just start shooting? And with the selection of lightroom presets or Instagram filters you don’t even have to worry too much about the lighting and colors of the pictures straight from the camera — you can always improve them afterward. How convenient is that!
Unfortunately, because of such negligence, we’re drowning in poor-quality photographs of self-proclaimed artists. And to think that just with a dose of humility people could learn so much and improve their work more effectively!
What makes a good photographer? And what can you do to become one? Let’s find out!
Work on Your Sense of Art
Some of us were born more sensitive than others which can make us more vulnerable to emotions and beauty in a broader sense. But does it mean that only the sensitive ones can become great artists? No!
It’s possible to support the development of your sense of art by exposing yourself to the work of other artists — both photographers, painters, film directors, and writers. The exposure stimulates your imagination and creative thinking. Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration.
Exercising creativity takes time but is effective. Taking care of your sensitive side will result in more depth and credibility of your photographs. You might be a master of photography techniques and equipment but you still need to work on the inner, artistic values of your shots!
Learn and Practice Constantly
One of the most common mistakes made foremost by pros is resting on their laurels. Artists are a group of rather presumptuous people. Unfortunately, this very often stops them from further, deeper development.
Another key to becoming a better, respectable photographer is the neverending process of learning and practising nearly every day!
You don’t need models nor prepared scenographs to exercise. Just like painters and drawers make quick scatches not to get out of practice, you can also take quick shots of random objects or buildings just to keep your creativity flow running.
Experiment with different gear just for variety’s sake. If you can’t afford new equipment, you can easily rent a camera body and various lenses for a couple of days or more (there are even online rental shops!).
Don’t forget traditional film photography — film cameras are a great opportunity to analyze the technical side of photography and develop more respect for this kind of art. Going deeper into the history of photography and traditional techniques — why not build your own camera obscura?
My point is, don’t limit yourself with inflated self-esteem and pride! Stay open-minded and curious all the time!
Master the Art of Light
Lighting plays an unbelievably significant role (actually one of the most important roles!) in any visual art. With light, you can manipulate the colours, mood, shapes, and even human facial features.
It’s common knowledge that Rembrandt was the absolute master of light — his work is the ultimate proof of how crucial the skill of painting with light is. With photography, it’s no different!
The two most effective exercises for the use of light in photography are experiments with Speedlight and shooting in black and white.
Experimenting with Speedlight
The opportunities that Speedlight gives us are countless. There are as many ideas for different uses of flash as there are photographers. You can work with flash on- and off-camera, try different angles of lighting, put on color gels or filters, try out different diffusers or create your very own one… Flash photography is a field huge enough for dozens of separate articles!
Experimenting with Black and White Photography
Black and white pictures are not only the roots of photography and cinematography. They are the very essence of understanding the role of light. Colour photography can appear to be too distracting to enhance fully how the contrast work. In black and white photographs, nothing can hide!
Go to the Streets
Working in a closed studio limits your perspective and, unintentionally, makes you more withdrawn as a photographer. While in order to make constant artistic progress, you need to become bolder and eager to discover the world around you.
Street photography is not only one of the many well-known genres. It’s also an intensive course both of photography and the essence of being a photographer.
The art of capturing moments, being highly attentive to what’s going on around — small accidents, people lost in their heads waiting for a bus, a child walking their pet… everything is worth your careful attention.
Shooting on the streets will also teach you making super quick decisions — it literally is capturing a moment. You’ll only have a few seconds to take a one-of-a-kind picture of a cyclist’s hilarious grimace while doing a trick. It teaches you to use the chance quick and right!
This kind of photography is a great way to open up to people, to become more self-conscious and sure about your decisions, and to learn how to work with just what you have within reach — one camera, one lens and the subjects in front of you.
Becoming a photographer is much more than just doing wedding photoshoots or taking quasi-artistic pictures in the black and white mode on your DSLR. It sure is a good way to start but it can’t be the only stop in your photography journey!
The art of photography has so much to offer if you only make the effort of getting to know the history of it, learning the very basics and general rules, and keep up your hard work. Become an aware photographer and never stop learning!