So first up is January’s book – in the future, I’ll announce what the next month’s book will be in case others want to read along but this month I was still getting the idea sorted out in my mind. So given that everyone is recovering from holiday expenses and travel, this month’s book, “Craft and Vision: 11 Ways to Improve Your Photography” has the bonus of being free. Yep. FREE. Granted it’s an ebook format (my first real experience with these and guess what, I’ll likely print mine out on paper since I learn by taking notes) but free is tough to beat.
The book is a collection of essays on how you can change up your approach in order to further your photography. Edited by David Du Chemin (and if you’ve never checked out his blog, you should, it’s the fastest fix for gorgeous travel photography), various contributors offer ideas in their own themed essays that all feature actionable tips amidst the paragraphs like:
- Don’t stereotype your lens – did you know you could shoot potraits with a wide angle? I didn’t.
- Histograms (what? i never look at those) – even if you nothing about them, you’re going to want to get the most “stuff” on the right hand side of the histogram, which will likely give you the picture with the most correct exposure and where the picture can store the most correct information
- How to get a “panning” shot (i.e. subject in focus, blurry/movement background): Set shutter priority to 1/30 and shoot several shots continually (I’m going to have to try this and report back)
But perhaps the most eye opening for me was Alexandre Buisse’s essay on the stages of learning photography, particularly poignant since I’m on this journey myself:
1. No artistic intent, only a desire to record moments
2. Intent in beautiful imagery, playing around with what’s available to produce high creativity but likely low quality
3. Realization that lack of technical knowledge is holding you back – he calls this the “dangerous” stage because you can get mired in the details without ever lifting up to the bigger picture
4. Realization that technical knowledge can feel like a “dead-end” which prompts a return to composition and light in your photography
5. Realization that you have reached proficient levels of “know-how” but need to define your own vision
6. “Finding your voice and stop worrying”
Buisse maintains that people never fully reach the final stage or if they do, it’s only for awhile. Which makes sense – in the end, isn’t refining your view on the world a lifelong goal? And this doesn’t have to be just for photography – it could be for blogging…or painting…or any other creative hobby that requires you to have your own perspective and be comfortable with it.
What I thought was most interesting in all of this was Buisse’s point on the role of community. In the second stage, he notes that people share enthusiastically and it is primarily to an enthusiastic audience for the purpose of support and encouragement, rather than in the third stage where you share for technical criticism, which has its own role in terms of pushing your understanding of craft and equipment, but again, can be dangerous if you don’t work through that stage completely.
Once I saw this laid out in these steps, it made perfect sense to me in terms of looking back of my own development in wanting to know more about photography – so which stage does that leave you?
All book images from Craft & Vision.
Next Month’s Book: Fine Art Weddings by Jose Villa (yay! Valentines Day!)