Making great images is harder than most people think. It takes real effort to come up with shots that are relatively original, tell a story or elicit emotion, and are sensitive to subject. And to do that with any degree of consistency is a tall task indeed.
Technical mastery, though at times frustrating to learn, is staightforward in comparison. By and large, good photography is about not settling for the easy way. You need to overcome a variety of obstacles on your way to great pictures, and that’s what this series of posts is all about. As with life in general, obstacles in photography are both self-made (or internal) and imposed (external). But both kinds are treated the same. They’re all just things to handle and get past.
So to start out, here’s a few of the types of obstacles that typically stand in the way of good photography:
Finding Time to Shoot
Shooting with enough frequency, especially when you’re on the steep part of the learning curve, is the key to reaching the point where you’re able to capture good images of a variety of subjects under different conditions. When you overcome this time obstacle, you’re better able to find solutions to problems of technique (such as too many images out of focus). That’s why I put it first.
Most of us have heard about 10,000 hours of practice being required for mastery of anything. I never like putting numbers on this sort of thing. It’s very simple: the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Do you need to shoot every day? No. But you do need to shoot more than once or twice on the weekends.
While the above obstacle is most important for learning and for technical issues, not being caught unprepared will probably have the biggest effect on the ultimate quality of your portfolio. I know, you’d think it would be more complicated than this. But being ready for the unexpected, combined with putting yourself in front of interesting things, is the most important thing to practice if you want to become a good photographer.
Being ready comes down to having a camera with you and ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. That mean when you’re walking it’s in your hands not your backpack. While driving it’s within easy reach not put away. The old saying, “The best camera is the one you have with you”, is as true today as it was 50 years ago.
It’s also important to have the camera all set up to go. How you set up the camera often depends on what you’re expecting to shoot. If you’re doing candids on the street, where a second’s hesitation means you miss the shot, you may choose program mode.
Don’t listen to those who say you need to be shooting in manual all the time. In fact, I only shoot manual mode under certain (usually difficult) lighting conditions. For landscapes I normally shoot in aperture priority mode. But then again, I’m not concerned about how I’m perceived, whether it’s the camera and lenses I’m carrying or how I use them.
Thanks for reading. Have you faced and overcome any of these obstacles? Are you struggling with a particular one? Please don’t be shy. Comment away! Have a great weekend.