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OTHER ITA SITES:
Look Rookie, Put Down the Camera, Walk Away and Nobody Will Get Hurt!
Are you a rookie amateur photographer? Although you may see yourself as a “gifted visual artist" with a digital camera – you might be a rookie amateur photographer. Here are a few signs:
1. If you’re spending time telling people how many pixels your camera shoots – quite possibly, you’re a rookie amateur photographer.
2. If you can count the number of photos that you have in your collection – you’re probably a rookie amateur photographer.
3. If you buy the most expensive photography equipment available because you think that your photos will be better – you just might be a rookie amateur photographer.
4. If you have that one “great" shot that everyone tells you is beautiful and very “valuable," and you actually believe them – you have rookie amateur photographer written all over you.
5. If you name your ‘best’ photos (i.e. “The Mona Lisa," “Sundown," etc.) – chances are pretty good that you’re a rookie amateur photographer.
6. If you’re the person that is always taking ‘surprise’ pictures of people without their permission – rookie is probably just one of the names that you’re called.
In most cases, amateur photographers are appreciated. Rookie amateur photographers aren’t. Often, many of us discover photography and the subsequent photography passion drives us to behave in ways that we never have before. We stare at common everyday items. We start to assess people’s faces differently. Sometimes we do so without problems. Other times we live out our photography passion oblivious to the interruptions and perceived “privacy invasions" that we perpetuate with our cameras. And, to make matters worse, our photos are good, but, they aren’t “great." In fact, after about a year, or so, we look back at the photos that we were so convinced “captured" our artistic photographer skills, and wonder how much we didn’t know about photography. We don’t do this maliciously. We are simply driven by the passion of photography. Passion, sometimes, makes rookies of us all.
We come to photography from varied experiences and interests. And, one of the attractions of photography is its capacity for individuality and personal expression. However, there are some basics that all photographers can agree on:
• Regardless of our experience level, as photographers, we are obligated to produce quality photos consistently.
• The standards of quality may vary. But, all agree that only continuous practice (shoot, critique your work, show your work, improve, shoot, critique your work, show your work, improve, shoot, etc. etc.) will produce quality photography consistently.
• Continuing to shoot is the path to quality.
Shoot, Critique, Show, Improve, Shoot,
I am not against formal study when it comes to photography. I just find it boring. I also like to drive. But, I don’t enjoy reading about cars. So, when it comes to photography, I suggest that you shoot, critique your work, show your work, improve, shoot, critique your work, improve, and repeat cycle.
Shoot your photos. Whenever possible, you should get permission to photograph someone. They may want to take a picture anyway. But, they may not, also. You and your camera shouldn’t be intrusive, abrasive or abusive. People that don’t want their pictures taken really don’t want their pictures taken.
Critique your work. Look at your shots. Ask yourself: did you capture what you were trying to? How does the shot look? Is everything you wanted in the shot? It is helpful to have a frame of reference when critiquing your work. What were you shooting? A snapshot? A portrait? A stock photo? Here is where you might spend time to find out what photography niches your work reflects. Once you have an idea of the niche, look at your work to determine how it compares to what is currently published.
Ask others to critique your work. I offer a word of caution here: almost everybody has an opinion. All opinions aren’t accurate or helpful. Remember, photography can be very personal. We all may not see the same meaning or stories in photographs. Don’t take critiques too personal.
Show your work. I favor digital photography because of the many advantages it offers. Showing photography work is one of the benefits of digital photography. You can do so much with digital. You can make a printed portfolio. You can print your own photos and frame them. My favorite is online photo galleries. They are so popular that they are given away for free all over the internet. Online photo sharing is extremely popular. However, they aren’t all exactly the same. Your work can be displayed on all of them. Most of them allow people to provide comments and critiques. Often, this is helpful in critiquing your work.
The best photography critiques, in my opinion, are found in photography groups. There are plenty groups on the internet. A couple of my current favorites are Photo Galaxy, Photo Takers, PhotoSig, ProPhotos. These groups focus on photography. Their forums are particularly helpful to me. They were especially helpful after I had begun shooting and critiquing my work. Some of the photographers in the groups and forums are more “intense" than others – and they communicate accordingly. I learn more by reading the communication of others than by participating myself. I am not as concerned with camera settings, aperture, equipment, etc. Consequently, comments about equipment aren’t helpful. However, comments about lighting, cropping, storytelling, and subjects are very helpful to me.
When I publish my photos online in these various groups, I get a good mix of critiques. Also, participating in the groups and forums reinforces my confidence in my photography skills. I don’t know how to express this aspect without sounding arrogant. But, showing work along with other photographers of the world can do nothing but contribute to any practicing photographer’s confidence. Rookie amateur photographers stop being rookies when they are able to tap into their ‘real’ confidence.
Online Photo Sharing – The Big Boys: Flickr.com
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