Tuesday, November 14, 2017

7 Steps to becoming a better photographer

In an earlier post I talked about 3 things to help you become a better photographer. In this post I am going to expand on that theme, going into more details and hence the seven steps.

Step 1 - Visualisation

By this I mean that before you take a picture you should visualise the image in your mind. If you haven't yet decided on what image you are going to take you can use this technique still. Just think of any image that has made an impression on you. Visualise this image in your mind's eye.

Step 2 - Imagination

Use your imagination to think about what is most striking about the image and what aspects of it don't quite make it. What could the photographer have left out to make it a stronger image? Try to examine the image in your mind and picture yourself there, taking the picture. Do this in your mind, not looking at a photo in a book or online. It's important to train your brain to think with your imagination before you press the shutter.

Step 3 - Application

Now it's time to apply what you have learned. Go out and take some photos but be sure to mentally visualise the image you are trying to achieve. Pause between each shot to rehearse the image in your mind.This is not the time to be shooting sport or using the continuous shooting mode on your camera!

Step 4 - Evaluation

Check your image and try to cast a critical eye over it. Does it achieve what you visualised? If not, think about how it comes short and how it could be improved.

Step 5 - Contemplation

Put your camera away and relax. Contemplate, ponder and scrutinise your image. Think about how you imagined it would be and try to visualise the perfect image (on the subject or topic you shot). It's better to focus on just one image and take your time. Maybe come back to the image the next day and repeat the process. Continue until you are happy and you know for sure how you could improve on your image and what the perfect image would look like.

Step 6 - Re-evaluation

By this I mean looking again at your images you have taken and trying to look at them with a critical eye. You need to be your own best critic. Think about what it was you were trying to say with your image before you pressed the shutter. Does it achieve what you wanted?

Step 7 - Perseverence

Whatever the science behind photography (let's face it technology is always driving that side of things forward) I sincerely believe that photography is more an art than a science. It's more about your imagination to pre-visualise the image before you even press the shutter and like all artists, we can never rest until we obtain the perfect image... which is never. But still we strive for perfection as is our nature.

At this point I will end with some inspirational quotes on the matter of photography and our role in creating art.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”— Aaron Siskind
“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”— Don McCullin
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”— Elliott Erwitt
“If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.”— Eve Arnold
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”— Dorothea Lange

I don't which of these is your favourite but all of them have a great deal to say about photography, at least for me. In particular I love the last one by Dorothea Lange and so I include one of her images to end with.

Portrait shows Florence Thompson with several of her children in a photograph known as "Migrant Mother". The Library of Congress caption reads: "Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two.

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