5 Ideas worth pursuing (not for weaklings)…

Not what you expect:  I promise.

These are some ideas worth pursuing if you are interested in moving your photography forward.  And they are a little bit different — I didn’t want to include the normal list of “how to improve your photography” (i.e., use a tripod, read the manual, etc.)

I don’t know where I learned these gems.  I read a lot, however, and I’m always talking with others about photography.  At any rate, they are not original with me and I doubt that anyone else has a copyright on them.

DSC_6173Start with this — it is probably the most difficult:  Photograph a concept.  Now I don’t mean the easy stuff like beauty or anger.  I’m talking about more vague concepts such as silence.  Or mystery.  Or death.  And think of this:  What you choose to photograph is your version of the concept and will, therefore, be a piece of expressive, personal art.  Here’s one of my attempts.  It’s actually a wood pattern found beneath rotted bark but I call it “Confusion”.

Learn something new.  I’ve just purchased Silver Efex Pro in an effort to turn out better black and white images.  As I sit here typing this blog I have absolutely no idea where to start with the software.  But I will.  I’ll watch tutorials and I’ll read a book I just downloaded from Kindle.  And I’ll get better black and whites.

This is one of my favorites:  Find unusual light, make a picture.   Others see the light but it doesn’t register with them as something interesting or something of beauty.  You do.  And when they see your photographs they think you are a genius.  Try candle light, cell phone light, lap-top light, camp fire light.

Light from a stained glass window puddles on the stone floor of a church in Palma, Majorca, Spain.

Light from a stained glass window puddles on the stone floor of a church in Palma, Majorca, Spain.

Try this:  Break all the rules.  Ignore the semi-sacred 1/3 points and put your subject square in the middle of a frame.  Ignore balance in the composition.  Shoot directly into the sun.  Forget about leading lines and level horizons.  You get the drift.  Now here’s the hard part:  Make those photos the very best you can.

Hit me with your best shot.  Tighten your belt and invite someone to critique your photos.  The person should be someone whose photography you admire.  And if that person happens to be your spouse…well…use good judgment.  Having someone else evaluate your photography is VERY difficult for those of us who believe we know more about what makes a good photo than anyone else.

So…that’s my list of surefire ways to improve your photography.  Well, surefire might be an overstatement — but they are certainly ideas worth pursuing.


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Guy Davies - I like your comment that we should photograph light. Apart from factual photography (documentary, nature etc), the subject is immaterial. In fine art photography it is the light that matters. Even a stunning landscape taken in flat or dead light is boring and uninteresting. Conversely, ordinary subjects taken in beautiful light can be works of art. We all fall into the trap of looking for the ‘right’ subject to photograph. We should be looking for the right light.

skeeter - Absolutely, Guy. Think about clouds on the western horizon: Almost nothing without the sun making them a great light show at sunset.

Michael Gaulnad - Your recommendation about seeking critiques is spot-on. I’ve taken to loading up a half-dozen or so images onto my tablet, and soliciting reactions from folks at the local photo club meetings. I’ve learned a lot by doing this, and not just from the more experienced members.

skeeter - Yes, Michael, but something I find it very difficult to do. Character flaw? Thanks for the comment.

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