Helecopter landing on a mountain ridge
Through out the years I have seen many aspiring photographers come and then vanish into the out of focus depth surrounded by fog of average. How come and what can you do to escape the faith of becoming a shadow and enter the path of fortune as a photographer. Many would say that the best way to bring your photography carrier to the next level is to enter school and learn what there is to learn about the trade. In many ways I do agree, but the problem with schools is that they are not all made equal and certainly there is not one size fits all when it comes to image making. Photography school is only as good as the effort you put into it. No more no less.
An other way is learning by doing. It has become way easier to get your hands on all material to learn how to become a photographer, than when I was taking my first steps and had to rely on three books in the library and the weekly dose of BJP. If you go that way I would recommend that you find your self a mentor also. Learning by doing is great and surely you can get feedback from sites like flickr, 500px and google+ , but true and honest criticism is hard to get, but is the best way to learn. If you can find your self a photography master, and that is easier than you think, that is willing to criticizes your work from time to time, my opinion is that its the best way of them all. What though I consider the ultimatum in taking your photography carrier to the next level is the persistence of practice. In his book Talent Is Overrated - Geoff Colvin states that no one is born with any skill. We are all born with all same skills except maybe the vocal cord and some physical indifferences that can effect what way in life we choose.
Art or craft as photography is something any one can learn and any one can be good at. But why is it that some become such a masters and other do not.That question has a very simple answer, practice makes perfect. Last autumn I got the job of photographing 42 politicians. Cool job it sounds but when you get take portrait of 42 people and you have less than two hours to do it things become more complicated. Still I was at ease with it. Nothing I had not done before. At the set wich I put up in a hotel corridor where the conference was held I learnt that a press photographer from the local newspaper needed to get photographs of the politicians to. I offered him to make things simple and use my setup, thus speeding the process for every one. He reclined and said he did not use artificial lighting, he wanted to use available light because the use of artificial lighting did not fit with his view on journalism. Sorry but I could not but smile, but said nothing because I understood fully his game.
He just was not comfortable with using strobes because he did not know how to use them. He expressed that very well when he asked if I was not afraid of getting colorcast from the lights in the ceiling. Of course I was not getting any colorcast from small lights. Shooting at Iso 100 with strobes and f-stop at 8 how could I, I had to blast the strobes and way overpower any light. Simplest of things to know, that is if you are familiar with working with strobes.
The thing is I had been in his situation earlier on in my carrier. I started my carrier as a press-photographer. Young and eager when I came to work I was full of it and thought I knew it all and had every thing under control. That was until situation forced me to use on camera flash and what a disastrous outcome in that picture. I had hell in the darkroom trying all kinds of techniques to get a decent picture out of this horror. From this I did learn though that you better be prepared for the worst and the best. I swore to my self that I would not stop experimenting until I had master the flashgun I had at that time, and since then each and ever time I get a new camera system I experiment with the flash, built in or external flash until I am comfortable with using it with out a disaster happening.Therefor I do not have to be chained to the "artistic style" of only using available light, I can do what I want when I want.To take your photography carrier to the next level you have to practice more than others.
You can only get above average by practicing more than average Joe smo does. You have to acknowledge the fact that the pro photographer that you want to be as good as has more thousands of hours in practice and he keeps at it every week. To get to his level you have therefore to practice twice as much as he does.Stay focused and check back for the next part of this article