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Growing as a Photographer

    Growing as a photographer is a common pattern most photographers follow. Many photographers including I travel down this road.

    The Beginner

    First, it is okay for you to be a beginner. In fact, I wish I could start over just to experience the excitement again. If you are like me, you start out with your new camera set on auto and think “Wow, I take great pictures, I’m a photographer.”

    The salesman was right! This camera can make me great!  All I need is to tell everyone and I will be set for life…

    Hmm!  Wait a minute. How come a lot of the faces in my photos are dark? Why does the camera focus on the leaf next to the flower instead of on the flower?

    The automatic setting is great but why don’t my images look like what I see? A friend told me to use aperture preferred and it will work every time. His camera must be different than mine.  

    My images are always blurry because the kids move too fast. What the hell is aperture preferred anyway? Manual Mode? Shutter What? Maybe I need to think about this a little more. 

    So, for many people this is the ending point of their photography career. You may like I did decide to…

    Look for the Quick Fix

    You go looking for the “answers.” You read about what the different settings do, watch videos, and then discover…. Photoshop… You can fix everything with Photoshop!

    You find the quick fix ends up with poor results. You make a realization. There is no quick fix, no gift, no equipment, no technique, no great eye, no great capture. Good photography is a craft. It will require study, practice, and experience.

    Learning Technique

    The stage of learning technique arrives. This period is critical. Your days are filled with hours of study and practice.  During this stage of your photography, you learn excellent technique. You strut with pride. Yes, you think you have arrived. What a great moment in your photographic career.

    Sadly, you like many others start to become content at this point. I, myself, spent too many years at this doorstop. However, you are not quite satisfied. Your work technically is very good but, you realize that the photographs were still missing something crucial.

    Finding a voice

    If that voice in your head tells you there is more and I do hope it does, you will search to add meaning, focus, and a voice to your art. But how?

    Here’s what happened to me…

    Eventually, I came across a couple of helpful books written by top professional photographers. Reading their books, I realized that I was just another crappy mediocre photographer. I did not like the reference, but at the time it fit (and some days it still does).

    This realization changed my approach to photography.  I was not putting what I was feeling and intending others to see, into my photographs.

    I started studying again. This time the focus was not on technique, but on the different elements, the light, the shape, the lines….  I learn about design and composition. I am learning to translate my personal vision into my photographs.

    Today, I am still a student of this aspect of photography.

    Remember, Then Begin Again

    Recognize where you are at now and accept that it is okay. Your growth as a photographer will be filled with disappointments, and frustrations. You will have self-doubts.

    You will wonder if your work is any good. You will put your heart and soul into a photograph and then a critics opinion will hurt you.

    You will quit! Just remember to begin again. Your photography is your art, your way to feel, to see and to share. It is beautiful. So, pick up your camera and get back out there and make more photographs.

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