Tips to accelerate your understanding of photography
How did the old school do it? I mean seriously. Could you imagine packing around 50 rolls of film and trying to figure out your ISO film speed? No histogram. A dark room not a computer program. No social media for 10 people to like a photo that took you 8 hours to hike to/shoot/develop (okay, maybe no social media isn’t such not a bad idea). Mad respect to those that came before digital. MAD respect.
Luckily we don’t have to take that step back. When I first started turning out pictures that wouldn’t be worthy to line a bird feeder, people said: “You are a natural” or “You have talent” or “How long have you been doing this?” The simple answer was not long. I have taken pictures for years all over the world with cheap cameras and without putting much thought into it. Sometimes I got lucky. Other times (well, most of the time), my lack of photographic knowledge resulted in sub-standard photos.
How did I accelerate my understanding of photography and really quickly improve my results?
#1 Be like Kim
Not just for the Kardashians or Cat Videos. YouTube it. Seriously. Gone are the days of trial and error. People make their livings now by putting their secrets out there for free. Unlike something from Jerry Springer, these are secrets you actually might want to know. There is a ton of information available. Really great tutorials by amazing photographers. I hope to pay it forward eventually, but in the meantime check out these three standouts:
1. Tony & Chelsea Northrup. Excellent teaching videos covering a wide variety of topics and gear. They also have corresponding books you can order.
2. Thomas Heaton. Incredibly honest. Very well traveled. Lots of great tips to improve your landscape shots.
3. Serge Ramelli. Serge produces a tremendous amount of content and covers all types of different scenes and scenarios.
#2 Be Like Kim Again.
You don’t have to be an Instagram star. You don’t even have to post. You can be a social media stalker like my father and just read only things. Instagram fills your feed everyday with amazing landscape photos from far out places. I take screen shots of the pictures I really like and study them. What makes them great? Where were they taken? How did they get that shot? What would I need to do to capture that shot?
Then you can get to the point of posting and seeing the reactions from people. What do they like or don’t like? I promise I will never post about Kim Kardashian or about cats. But I do find it interesting to use as a test case and discover that the photo I am in love with is really only lovable by me 😔 . . . no seriously it helps me to improve.
Three of my favorites:
1. Travis Burke. He shoots all over the place out of his van and produces some really amazing stuff.
2. Max Rive. He has a knack for getting off the beaten path and producing amazing images.
3. Chris Burkard. Humble but focused. Light hearted but serious.
#3 Don’t be like Kim
At the risk of offending the one landscape photographer reading my blog that is actually infatuated with the Kardashians, there is one way you don’t want to be like Kim. Take the time to learn and understand the world around you. Don’t worry about what is socially cool or acceptable, learn about not only your camera or drone but most importantly have a plan on how to develop your photos after you take them.
Shooting RAW changed the way I think about pictures. But that was only possible when I established a workflow in Lightroom and saw how simple it was to adjust my photos to get them to reflect what I saw when I took the photo. If you don’t want to put something on the wall you are are fine shooting JPG and uploading to Facebook, but really for $9 per month you get Lightroom and Photoshop and with YouTube you can easily figure out how to use the programs.
My Three favorite tutorials:
1. Anthony Morganti on establishing workflow in Lightroom
Follow these three tips and you’ll accelerate your understanding of photography, too.