How To Challenge Yourself As A Photographer
Photography has become much more accessible in the past decade, with entire feature films now shot on iPhones.
With apps like Instagram, anyone with a somewhat keen eye can take a nice picture and have it post-processed to look great, and that’s totally fine. However, as a budding photographer, it’s important to know that these tools, while great, don’t make you a professional.
Photography is an art form (and sometimes science) almost like any other, but it does require constant practice and care. It also requires you to have fun with it, as if you never have fun, it’s hard to frame the world in a way that really conforms to what you think of it.
Now, you don’t have to become a war photographer or fly to challenged areas to become a great photographer, but it is important to try and get out there and be in situations that lend to great pictures.
In this post, we’ll share a few great ways in which you can challenge yourself as a photographer going forward.
Photographers photograph the world, or the subjects and objects within it. For that reason, it can be helpful to go and see a diversity of objects and subjects, traveling the world and seeing what’s out there.
Travel can be a very inspirational activity for a budding photographer, because not only does it help you refine your eye and expose you to new surroundings, but it gives you the means to get out of your comfort zone a little bit. You don’t need to travel into dense rainforests or the other end of the world to find something interesting to shoot, but it can be nice to head to places that pique your curiosity.
For instance, it might be that you’re truly interested in visiting the wide-open plains of natural farmland, or heading to the biggest city in your country and seeing the incredible mixture of sites, elevation points, and people will be amazing. Travel can also present a challenge. Going hiking with a good pair of boots and long sleeve performance shirts turns photography into an activity, for instance, one in which you have to earn your result. It’s not hard to see how photography can be a great excuse for squeezing the best out of life.
Speak With Other Photographers
It can be tremendously insightful to speak to other photographers and to get their perspective on the craft. This might be through speaking on online platforms like Instagram, or Behance, or perhaps camera owner forums. It might come through asking YouTube photographers you respect their method, or it might simply mean attending a talk and attending the Q&A section at your local art museum installation.
The great thing about photography is that while you’re ultimately taking pictures, there are so many styles, approaches, and philosophies surrounding it that you can never really get bored or run out of things to learn when you engage in those conversations. Who knows? Perhaps doing so can help you learn of your own amazing and developing style more deeply.
Photography isn’t a singular discipline, but a set of disciplines, many of which have been considered and practiced before you hit the button on your camera to shoot that shot. That said, the photography process is hardly finished when you’re done taking the picture, as with modern editing tools, getting the best out of your creative vision is more and more possible.
Learning to edit, perhaps with free programs like GIMP, subscribing to PhotoShop, or simply following YouTube guides and reading our blog can be tremendously helpful. Learning about new tools and light photo editing, as well as the power of enriching colors and tones through color grading can truly take your photographs to the next level. Editing also provides a comfortable and relaxing activity to partake in as you rest from a long trip. It’s a cyclical process.
Also, not that editing also encompasses printing and rendering your photographs as appropriate. File types such as PNG and JPG, dimension sizes, professional printing, compressing for the web so that your website loads quickly without compromising on quality, these tips can be tremendously helpful in the long run and are worth your time to get right.
Experiment With Lenses
While lenses can be expensive, you can find all kinds that may fit your camera on auction sites like eBay, and experiment with them as appropriate. Simply lenses like the fish-eye can provide an interesting and classically expanded picture, but while you may know names like this, it’s important to understand what millimeter-marked effect a lens can have, and what kind of subtle addition or subtraction that can give you.
Knowing lenses and which ones apply to which situations is the work of an excellent photographer, and will really help your pictures stand out from the competition.
Experiment With Different Cameras
It’s good to experiment with different cameras, too. You don’t need an ultra-luxe SLR camera with the top-of-line picture quality to get excellent snaps, and actually, as a creative professional, working with basic cameras (or even disposable and retro models) can help you figure out ways to squeeze the most out of your photography. Fidelity and high-resolution imagery is nice, but unless you’re shooting for technical purposes, covering an event, or following nature, it’s not always the be-all and end-all of a creative idea. Knowing that can help you feel more confident in your photography abilities, even if this means simply shooting a small and silly film on a Super 8 camera.
Try Subjects & Landscapes
A strange thing happens when a photographer identifies their style, and that is they can fall into the habit of thinking anything running counter to that style isn’t worthwhile. This is, of course, not true. For this reason, it’s a good idea to try both subjects and landscapes and keep yourself on your toes. Don’t simply fall into one habit, although it’s okay to choose a particular style and niche. Just make sure you keep your edges sharpened, and that becoming great in one direction doesn’t blunt your skills with other photography challenges.
With this advice, we hope you can continue to challenge yourself as a photographer. Keep your habit up, and you’re sure to craft a great starting portfolio.