The time has come for me to say adieu and bid you all a happy life with your cameras, but before I go, I wish to impart a few pieces of wisdom.
First, photography isn’t something many people become good at overnight. It takes a whole lot of practice. I first became interested in photography in 1998 while I was still in middle school and it’s been an adventure of learning ever since. As technology evolved, so did my skill. I had to learn how to frame a shot, time a shot, be patient for a shot, control lighting, find beauty in mundane things, learn the functions of a camera, give the darkroom a try, experiment with photo editing, and just keep trying. I never really thought I would ever get to the place I’m at now. I never really thought that one day I would understand how a camera works or that one day I would be writing articles about how cameras work! But here I am. The culmination of my knowledge is the product of thousands of days just trying something new. If you want to improve your photography, all you have to do is keep trying and it will come–maybe in small bits, but it will come. And don’t forget to periodically look back on your early work–you may be surprised by how much you’ve improved.
Second, don’t let yourself get bored. Look for ideas on Pinterest, Flickr, iStock Photo, Deviant Art, or your friends’ photos! There is no shame in seeing a good idea and trying to imitate it, in fact, I think you’ll learn something by trying to do exactly what someone else did or you may come up with your own ideas in the process. Also try using YouTube for tutorials on lighting, composition and photo editing (I do this sometimes when I’m bored and looking for a challenge). Half of this series was about the technical side of taking photos while the other half was mostly about idea generation and inspiring people to use their camera. If you need to, bookmark these articles and go back to them every now and then for a prompt or an idea to try.
Third, try to share your knowledge with someone. I say this honestly: I didn’t realize how much I knew until I started writing this series and even so, I researched a lot to put together some of these articles. Challenge yourself to actually know something or challenge someone else. Go out with a friend and try sharing tips as you go. Sometimes photographers can be really competitive with each other and though it can be ugly, it can also be good. I once went out with a friend (during this series of posts) to shoot an abandoned hospital and I felt challenged by her because she shot every photo using a manual focus and I was still tied to my auto mode. Being with her made me want to be better so I stepped up my game and went manual. I didn’t get many good photos that day but I did something I had never done before and that was excellent. In fact, it was that experience that inspired me to post when I did about shooting in manual mode–a challenge I set for both you and myself. So talk with others about your learning process; ask for tips, ask for opinions, give feedback, and share your favorite photos.
Finally, have fun. If you aren’t having fun while taking pictures, then stop. Sometimes I can go a month without using my camera and honestly, I need those breaks sometimes. For me, photography is a thrill and I love the excitement I feel when I’ve taken an amazing photo, but if I’m out every weekend or every day, I can burn out quickly. It takes energy to lug around all my gear and sometimes taking photos means being out all day as well. I don’t want to come home from every photo adventure feeling wasted–I want to come back feeling satisfied and looking forward to my next shoot. So if you need a break, don’t beat yourself up for it–come back to your camera later when you have the energy.
So, Persephoneers, I wish you good luck and happy snapping with your mighty machines of light contortion. I have really enjoyed writing this series (by the way, if you didn’t notice, my screen name has changed) and I’ve grown a lot personally from writing these articles. I hope that you’ve learned something or found some inspiration here. As a final challenge I’d like you to post your best shot in the comments and/or tell us something you’ve learned or want to try after going through the series with us.
I will always be available for questions and general chitchat about cameras so come find me if you’re around, add me as a friend, and let’s keep the conversation going.
Hugs & kisses– Thelma.