This morning, Facebook posted a memory from 7 years ago on my feed - a photo of a friend from one time we went gallivanting in the woods while I took photos and tried to further define my photographic style. It struck me that, though the photo isn't exactly bad, and falls close to my 'style,' it's definitely not what I would consider 'good' work for me these days. I reflected a bit on how I have improved, how I still need to improve, and what has helped me to get better so far.
I thought a few budding photographers out there might find it helpful to know what I have come up with.
1. I followed professional photographers on social media obsessively.
It is necessary to know what a few different shades of professional, or 'good,' look like. You need to know what is acceptable in professional work and what is not, if you are trying to be a professional. Bumping up my personal standards by studying other pros pushed me to where I am today. Viewing many different styles was, and is, inspiring, as long as you keep your head about any self-doubt.
2. I started taking fewer photos.
During each session and just in general. It makes your life so much easier to have to filter through fewer photos, but also, if you stop taking photos of everything and focus more on honing one or two areas or skills, you will probably see greater improvement faster. Also, you become more thoughtful about each individual frame. I did this after -
3. I experimented a lot.
You must take thousands of terrible photos and experiment in order to discover how to do things properly for yourself. You don't have to share your work, this is just for you. Shoot in all kinds of lighting situations with different types of equipment and different subjects. I discovered through a whole lot of trial and error that 98% of the time I like to shoot portraiture with all-natural light using my 50mm lens on a digital camera. I know how to use studio lighting and film, but at the moment I know that's not my style, because I tried it out. I will keep trying new things, though, because who knows what will change in the future?