I like to think that I am mentoring a special friend who is becoming a wonderful photographer. I wanted to write a bit on how I could help her obtain the next level in her creativity. I realize I am really writing this to me. She will benefit, but this is really self-talk.
Ways to improve as a person who is also a photographer.
Do not compare your images to others on social media such as Facebook. That will depress you. Do not go after getting likes. Likes are what people do that like low-brow stuff, like watching “Reality TV”. If your friends are like mine, they rarely look to Facebook to edify themselves, look at what they post; meme’s, political statements (they should investigate the facts), cat videos and other time wasters. Facebook is an escape, not an art form.
Instead of social media, begin to seek out art websites more frequently to be inspired by artists. Study the masters. If you want to be better, study the masters, not trends. Example, HDR is/was a trend…
Go to museums and traveling exhibits to see work that is different from your own. This should be expanded to fine art, both 2D (painting, mixed media) and 3D art such as sculpture. I always become inspired after visiting an art gallery.
As a photographer discipline yourself to use a prime (fixed focal length), and different lens to force you to think outside your comfort areas. Avoid taking the same images; over and over. Yes, they are safe and are working for you— now!
Read books on art, design, and artists. Read about the master’s what was in their heads, what questions were they looking to answer. Trust me, they did not shoot random shit.
Start personal projects just for yourself. Yes, this is personal work, so it may or may not resonate with others.
Read tech sites to learn the latest hardware, software, and other items, so you see how to improve your workflow. Do not, I repeat do not get into buying gear and more gear to thinking it will make you a better photographer. Chasing the latest and greatest gear does not make you a better photographer. I have a big camera. I can shoot with an artist where they are using a camera phone. She will take more interesting and moving images. I could have technically better images, more pixels. Bigger cameras do not you an artist. Also, I hate when people like my images and ask me what camera I use? Please, it is not the camera.
Speaking of camera phones, use it, but not for more selfies. The best camera is the one that is with you. Because there is really no cost to using your camera phone, walk around and observe your world. Take a ton of images. Change your perspective, go low, high, turn the camera 45 degrees, change your composition. Chase shadows instead of objects. Find interesting perspectives. Shoot from the waist, instead of from the eye.
Ask what if? go do what if? share your successes and learn from your mistakes.