Poet Billy Collins once said on “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” that “we’re all born with 200 bad poems in us”.
The same can be said of photos:
- But (at least in my case) A LOT more than 200 bad photos. High school and college were a great time for me. I got to shoot a lot of film.
- And I still keep taking bad photos on purpose just to learn from them.*
*You learn so much more from learning from your mistakes than from just finding out how to do it right and just doing it that way (and not getting to learn why other ways don’t work or work differently).
To many photographers who ask me what they need to do to get better in photography, I tell them to shoot a lot and shoot anything and everything.
- Don’t worry about finding interesting subjects. That just delays you in getting practice.
- Don’t worry about getting it just right. Look at the photos and try to improve or change to better capture what you want to capture.
- Don’t worry about the limitations of the camera. Every photographer since the beginning of photography had equipment limitations. Focus on improving YOU.
I shoot often, and many times it is not to create a lasting image. Like musicians when they practice, most of the time it is to:
- Better understand how my camera will behave
- Do you think you are the only kind of artist with devices and materials that can behave very differently?
- Do you think painters never try out paints and brushes?
- Do you think athletes could do the amazing things that they do without working again and again until they understood their instrument (their bodies)?
- Or better understand what kind of images will be the result of particular techniques or settings
- Do you think musicians never just play around with techniques to see how they sound?
- Do you think chefs just trust what they read or hear about and serve a recipe without trying it out first?
- Create muscle memory for the controls
- So when I am looking deeply at a scene that I am concentrating on composition and the right moment rather than operating the camera.
- Just plain practice
- Like many photographers, I walk around looking at things differently.*
- But looking is not enough.
- Practicing turns that looking into vision.
- Refinement turns that vision into something concrete.
- And that all starts out and is sharpened with practice, practice, practice.
Finally, some of the practice is just:
- To enjoy the beauty of low depth of field or a sharp image — like a pianist playing just to feel a particular mood.
- Or to feel the camera and look through the viewfinder — probably in a similar way athletes feel their muscles perform just to feel alive.
I started this blog:
- To share testing results and to give my 2 cent reviews on equipment that I have used
- But to also to practice writing about photography (my 200 bad poems) and to find my writing style.
- Sorry for making all of you my guinea pigs. 🙂