Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by https://www.blvdartists.com/, Sep 11, 2017.
How do you Educate yourself to take better pictures?
As far as subject matter and composition are concerned, you can study photographs, paintings calendar photos and see what appeals to you. Also you should learn the characteristics of your particular camera (and film, if used). Keep taking photos and look at several times over a period of a week or so. Hope this helps.
Technique first, because until you can control the process you won't be able to realize y'r artistic vision, whatever that is. I shoot film, haven't gone digital yet, so am not acquainted with books on operating digital cameras or manipulation of digitized images. They exist. If you want to learn the technique of shooting film, buy a copy of A. A. Blaker's Field Photography and study it. If you want to learn what shutter speed and aperture controls do, buy that book. Can't give advice on learning about the rest of digital.
Art? When I started I took terrible pictures. So I looked at them, analyzed what didn't please me, figured out how not to do that, and improved. Self criticism is painful, helpful.
I don't educate myself to take better pictures, I take pictures to educate myself better.
What this means is the crux, isn't it?
Supposing that my "kinda post cardy" style entitles me to an opinion, I'd say the best path to learning is to study and try to emulate acknowledged "greater" artists, in general, not just in photography.
Maybe I'm mistaken, but this question has come up before and been handled at considerable length a couple of times not that long ago. I wonder if this is for a class.
Look at photographs. Go to museums and galleries and libraries. When you see a photograph you really like try to figure out why you like it. The book that got me started was "The Americans" by Robert Frank. Saw it in my high school library 50 years ago. I have been learning ever since.
For hanging on the wall? I'd study various glues and hooks. For using in the outhouse? I'd study whether large areas of pigmented image have adverse effects on the skin. I'd probably avoid using selfies for this purpose (and remind myself not to take a selfie of myself using a selfie for this purpose).
For making pictures that will make a bang? I'd study whether a attaching them to a brick and dropping them from a tall building onto asphalt was as effective as dropping them onto cement. For taking a picture that would be famous? I'd study attaching one to a brick and dropping it from a tall building onto the head of a blond-haired politician.
After 4 years of formal photographic education, I use the older technical manuals like the "Manual Of Photography (Formerly The Ilford Manual)" & "The Focal encyclopedia of Photography", one gives me the technical info & the other gives me the definition of any term that is unfamiliar to me. Used in tandem they have huge amounts of information, much of which is now forgotten.
Having gotten the "tech stuff" sorted I look at images in high quality publications, that's usually good photography done well. Then I try to figure out how I'd have produced that image. (Oh well, back to the books)!
I also like to go to art galleries. Painters & sculptors by virtue of the medium being vastly slower than "point & shewt", it obliges a lot of thought throughout a project.
We all will have a problem with what a "better" photo is, but I suppose if you want a way to do this is to look at photo books, photo exhibits, galleries, photo collections in museums, and the poster available in museum stores. I suppose most people would consider these in some way or other "good" pictures. The technical stuff is not really all that difficult, but having the ideas or reacting to the world is quite difficult. It will depend on what your subject is. A good wildlife image is probably going to have different requirements than a good street photograph.
I think you first need to decide what you are taking photographs for, and whether you are more interested in technique or creativity. All of the above suggestions are good ones. I found that learning the technical fundamentals was a good starting point for me, and that came about by lots of reading and assimilating the fundamentals and then trying them out to see how they fared in practice. Then I joined a group of like minded people to learn from them. After that it was lots of shooting, isiting museums and other sites where I could see what the masters did, and how. My pinnacle was spending about 3 weeks with photographers from Nat'l Geographic, Time & Life magazines on an assignment and sharing our diverse experiences with each other. Many people do something similar by joining local camera clubs. Sometimes taking hands-on courses can be extremely helpful, depending on your interests. Personally, I'd start cheaply with your local library.
And with that, Phil wins the internet for the day. My photographic endeavors are similar. For me, it's about learning and satisfying my curiosities about people, neighborhoods, and their rhythms/interactions/dynamics.
One way I take better pictures is by not answering hackneyed questions from URLs.
How about using a real name? You come across as spam!
We have a blond-haired politician in Blighty you are welcome to borrow to help refine your technique.
Thank you, Tony! The cool thing is, you don't actually have to drop a brick on anybody's head (which isn't very nice). You just make some tasteless, offensive posts on, say, Twitter, that you are just about to do it ... and your brick-and-picture become instantly famous! Saves a lot on labor and all that aesthetic/intellectual bother.
They or it seems to be a collective of commercial photographers. Faceless but harmless.
So, off we go, just for them or it, I shall give advice to commercial photographers, about which I know next to nothing ...
I'm told, via Business School talking heads, that THE first, last and only question that really matters, if asked, "Is this any good?" is "For whom?" Your mantra at all times must be:
Know your customer.
A wedding photograph is good if it pleases its particular customer. A product photograph is good if it attracts a very specific, down-to-its-toenails customer. Not everybody, not anybody, this particular known market segment. So, to educate yourself to take better pictures, know your customer.
Okay, so much for photography I know nothing about. But I think this has relevance to non-commercial photography. See Phil's post:
Who is Phil's customer? Phil. So if Phil were to make pictures for me, they would not be good pictures. He's not pleasing his customer.
Great! I agree. I'm the customer...here's what you need to know about me. I'm a paying member to these PN forums and I don't want some faceless, nameless anonymous stranger posting threads that directly advertise their website by posting under a URL name. I like talking to real people here. And besides that mods used to (don't know if they still do) remove links posted by anonymous strangers that send the PN members to other websites whose sole purpose is to advertise their business.
You think they're making the big bucks from *anything* we've posted to any of their threads? Or even $1.23? I think we owe them money for taking the time to post a simple, coherent question to this forum where new threads are hard to come by. And not being rude or abrasive or dismayed or ... amused at what we choose to post in response. Not even a snicker, so far.
You're missing the spirit of my point regarding the intentions and thus integrity of those who don't value people by them not investing some of their own personal "skin" in the game when it comes to social interaction with others online.
It's why I don't hang out at Facebook as a way to avoid the banal one line back and forth short and meaningless comments similar to "Great shot!" that suffice as PN photo critiques. You of all people, Julie, are someone who I'ld thought didn't have to be told this. My mistake.
Some people seem to have undergone a sense-of-humour bypass operation. Sorry, Tim - 'Banal one liner'.
Separate names with a comma.