When I started out in photography, we used film and had to have our photographs developed. That meant rewinding the film from the camera into the canister it came it and taking or sending it to a developer so they could do what they do. The images were sent back to us usually within a weeks time.
So much has changed over the last decade that has made our lives as photographer easier and yet more challenging. The process of taking the pictures and delivering images to the customer has become more streamlined and expeditious (sometimes within the same day) and yet the ease of digital photography has created a much more challenging business climate as the barriers to entry has been lowered and now anyone with a good camera thinks they are a professional photographer. But not to dwell on the last point, which can be very frustrating, it is part of my code to help those aspiring to take better photographs achieve their goals.
Good photographers need to know so much more than just how to compose a shot. They also need to know their cameras inside and out. What is the different between Auto and ‘A’? When should I shoot shutter priority and when to go completely manual? What does “completely open” mean and what is “stopping down”? What is ISO? Well, I am not writing this entry to answer these questions nor am I writing it as a precursor to my photography book. But what I will do is challenge you with 5 key skill sets that every camera buff should know to make their photos great:
1. Get the Basics Right
Even though I said I wasn’t going to answer the questions above, these are among some of the things that you should know. You need to know composition, exposure and how to use your camera to get the most of it. It doesn’t matter if its the latest DSLR or a point-and-shoot, you need to know what your camera can and cannot do.Â And you will need to know basic photography concepts (and practical matters) like depth-of-field, shutter speeds, apertures, focal planes, etc.
2. Know Your Process Flow
This means understanding your “developing” process or workflow in the digital darkroom. In working on these skills, you will learn how to get the most of your digital image. Choosing a software package that fits into how you work. And this doesn’t necessarily mean choosing the most expensive software either-just something that best suites your interests and needs.
3. Study Others Work
Art rarely develops in isolation and the work of others can go a long way in helping you to develop your own style. Spend time looking at their work, analyzing their photographs and thinking about how they created the look or effect that inspires you. Networking with other photographers can also be an important tool; checking out local camera or photography clubs and get involved in collaborative project. These will increase your skills and experience substantially. And finally, on-line resources exists to help you get your images in front of others and can also be a resource for learning and discussion.
4. Be Flexible
Don’t get stuck taking the same kind of shots and processing them in the same way over and over again. Improving your skills means that you develop the manner in which you work. Be conscious of issues such as workflow and how they can impact your ability to produce good images. If you fail to adapt and evolve as technology and the marketplace changes, you will stagnate and your interest in photography could wane.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
There is really no substitute for picking up your camera and using it. You can read all the books and magazine and websites, but that will not show your passion for photography. Go out and shoot, shoot, shoot.