3 Photography Lessons I Learned (the hard way) and What You Can Learn From Them
There have been many things I have learned since I became interested in photography. Some things have been great things to learn, others I have kicked myself for a while afterwards. That being said, I took a look at the things I can remember learning the past few years, and broke them down into three main categories that encompass the main things I have learned (the hard way). I wanted to expose them out in the open so that you can learn from them as well, and hopefully not make the same mistakes that I did. These are certainly not all and I'm sure I will be able to add to the list as time goes on. But how else will we learn and grow?
1. Expect the Unexpected
When I go out for a shoot, or to simply take pictures for enjoyment, I never quite know what I’m going to find. That’s to be expected. I enjoy the ‘quest’, so to speak, of finding things to photograph. I’m not talking about those times with this lesson. I’m talking about the times you are just out and about doing your daily thing, and aren’t expecting to find anything to photograph, or you’re not even looking for things to photograph. I’ve run across some amazing things that way. Long story short, even if you don’t think you’re going to see anything worth photographing, have a camera with you. Camera phones make it really easy these days (except if you have the same phone I have, which in that case, the camera is BAD). Expect the unexpected. You just may capture some amazing things. I’ve captured some of my most favorite photographs that way such as a few of the examples below. I almost always have some sort of camera on me, even it’s my crappy camera on my phone.
2. Don’t Give Up
I’m ashamed to admit when I first started getting serious about photography, there would be times when I would get frustrated with myself about not being able to capture a particular flower the way I liked, or the weather was rainy/cold, or the fall leaves weren’t very colorful, or it was cloudy, or blah blah blah. I missed out on some potentially pretty cool shots. Eventually, I came to realize the times that were less than perfect, or that I couldn’t find the shot I was looking for, I was able to expand on my photography skills, and branch out from what I was used to doing. Can’t find the beautiful landscape of full fall color? Start looking for individual leaves on the ground, or playing with the light in between the leaves you do see, for example. The times when you get frustrated or start making excuses are the perfect time to start thinking outside the box with your photography. Use them to your advantage! Get creative! Personally, I start seeking out these situations where I used to make excuses for myself because I enjoy pushing myself and enjoy thinking outside the box.
I was hiking when I took this shot, and it had been rainy, humid and gross all day. To top it all off, the bugs were HORRIBLE. I had put my camera in my day pack so it wouldn't get wet, and I remember passing a couple of shots I liked just to get off trail. Finally, I decided I needed to take my camera back out and take some pictures of the scenery around me.
3. Practice Really Does Make Perfect
There is a quote by Henri Cartier-Bresson that says: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. The quote drives the point home that in order to become the photographer you want to be (more on that in a second), you need to practice, practice practice.
There are some photographers out there who don’t like the fact that advanced cameras are so readily available and affordable these days, and that anyone can purchase one and, according to these photographers, become an instant photographer. Yes, it’s true, access to good cameras has become increasingly easy and affordable. But I think that’s great! It’s great that people are wanting to explore and capture the world around them. Do I think people (who want to be a photographer, or simply take GREAT photos) should learn the basics and learn how to use the camera and understand the photography terms? Yes, I do, because I think that it can only help your photography for the better. But I also realize that it takes time to learn and practice. There were a couple fundamental photography topics that took me a long time to fully comprehend, and it took me a lot of time, research and practice to finally grasp them. I’m so glad I did though, because as I mentioned before, it really helped me improve as a photographer. Without them, I felt like I was stalled and frustrated; learning more motivated me to take more and more pictures. And so I did. And as I did, I think I got better and better.
It’s important to become the photographer YOU want to be, because there are always going to be critics and haters. Whatever level you’re at, whether it’s beginner, advanced, pro, or anywhere in between, be sure that you’re doing this for yourself and continue to practice, learn and expand to a level that you love being at.
What photography lessons have you learned the hard way? I’d love to hear about them!
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