Today, I present the seven, maybe eight actually, ideas for becoming a better photographer. These are not exclusively mine, although I have added my thoughts to them and punctuated them with a bit of myself. They maybe don’t work for everybody and some might be hard to master. I never said it was easy, but I do think it’s worth doing in the long run. These are my take on perfecting, actually maybe even honing the craft of photography. Here goes:
- Spend time seeing what you care about without a camera. If you want to be a better photographer, be a better person, be more involved, check out what you actually love, without the filter of a lens.
- Nail technical skills. Simplify and learn the crap you really need to know, but just the crap you really need to know. Don’t use program mode but don’t bury yourself in technical details either. Don’t be a technician, be an artist, but be able to do the work. Cut through the fluff to get to the stuff you need but only master the stuff you need. Get onto the business of actually making the work and don’t get bogged down in the weeds of technical despair.
- Surround yourself with art. Doesn’t have to be photography. Some of the best photographers I know draw inspiration from things like theater, poetry, painting, music, etc. The one thing these all have in common is that they are art. Put more art in your life to help put more life into your art.
- Find a buddy. Photography can be a solitary act. We’re alone a lot of the times. It’s good to have a buddy that you can trust, especially one who gets your aesthetic and can tell you honestly if something is working or not. Also, just so that if you happen to fall through the floor of some old, abandoned house, you have somebody to help you call for help. Buddies are good, even if you are not the most social of people on a good day.
- Find your own voice. Many people struggle with this but the real solution behind the dilemma is to actually do a lot of work. If you keep shooting, keep working, keep producing, a voice will emerge even if you didn’t start out with one. Do the work, keep shooting. Be regular. Be thoughtful in your shooting, be mindful. Don’t fret about finding a voice just this moment, just be mindful and work diligently. The most successful artists are able to dance between the playful and the thoughtful.
- It’s not for everybody…some don’t but…when the time is right, find a project. Or, rather, let a project find you. Projects should be doable and make you want to wake up excited. Photography when crafted as part of a larger, overall project really soars so don’t knock out the idea of a personal project. Dig deep, commit, and follow through on your project but above all be excited about it. It should be your opportunity to soar and really dive into the meat that is photography.
- Enjoy the journey. Connect to the thing itself. Don’t be the guy who goes to the rock concert and spends the entire time staring at the back of his phone. Live a little, connect, make connections, enjoy the process. Don’t look for quick results or even a quick buck. It’s a path so follow it and see where it leads.
- Do something with your work. Get your work out there. You don’t have to go far, just push yourself to take a few little steps. Print your images. Hang them up on your own walls. Live with them, look at them, share them when possible, but don’t inflict your art onto people. Welcome feedback when it comes and continue on your path, your journey, towards better image-making and perfecting the craft.
I hope these help you as much as they have helped me over the years. We’re all on this wonderful journey into image-making and art together so I hope this is as useful to you as it was for me.