Digital photography is a vast field of specialized knowledge. Well, even if not many non-photographers appreciate it (one of the reasons why we have to deal with questions like, how can you possibly charge that much for taking pictures?), we photographers know that because our blood, sweat and guts are spilled every day scouting for locations, making images, editing them and then putting them up for someone to say, ‘nah, I could have easily done it’. Nothing makes one angrier. But then due to the inherent nature of photography, being both a visual art form and the fact that it is highly subjective, everyone reserves the right to make a comment.
The discussion we are about to venture into has to do with the finer aspects of photography, because it involves our ability to understand photographs and to improve the quality of our work. Photography is an evolving art form, and one that is highly influenced by painting. Many of the classical masters of photography started their careers as painters, many of them borrowed their composition ideas from painting. As a matter of fact some of the best lighting samples are also borrowed from painting.
Photography has not stopped at classical inspiration though. Being an evolving art form it absorbs many of the modern traits, patterns, lighting and posing that you will notice in the work of contemporary photographers. The best way to understand how to inculcate the old and the new is by joining a professional photography class.
The benefits of joining a class are immense. We often work alone and the lack of constructive feedback can often result in a rut. Constructive feedback means feedback from someone who is honest about what he thinks about your work. That way he can make you realize your mistakes as well as force you to do an introspection. In this world of social media, Flickr and Facebook it is easy to secure rave reviews from people who understand nothing about photography in the first place.
A typical photography class is composed of lecture sessions, one on one sessions, project allocation and then feedback. Assignment of projects are an integral part of most photography classes. Projects are assigned based on not only what you feel you wish to do but also what your tutor thinks will best express your creative skills, based on your one on one interactions. It is imperative that you choose something that not only gives you the opportunity to use what you have learned at class but also do what you wanted to do and excel that.
Most photographers who are established, having successfully converted from merely following their passion to making their passion the means to a livelihood, would vouch that post-processing is key. However, this is something that is not taken that seriously by all photographers. A little bit of post-processing is inevitable no matter what type of photography you do. The problem, however, is that often we are guilty of choosing incorrect images for the final edit. This happens because of one main reason really, lack of one’s eye to spot which one is the better image among many. This is where it becomes important for a photographer to sit with a tutor and finalize the images that speaks well for the project.
Build your interpersonal skills
One of the key things that a photographer has to do every day (and I am not referring to making images) is to speak to others, express his ideas, take permission and basically talk his way into situations, places and talk his way out of difficult situations. One of the biggest advantages of joining a photography class is that it builds up on your inter-personal skills, an invaluable aspect of your photography.
Understand the essence of Storytelling
Being able to tell a story using compelling images is a skill that is extremely useful. No one likes to see bland one-of images that are out of context. People want to be able to see how the story unfolds. This is something that can be possible only when you make a series of images. The good thing is you can be taught to do that and no better place to do that but a photography class.
Look for a mentor
Apart from what has been discussed above I would like to add one more point. There are a number contributing factors that control your journey from an amateur to a professional. Choosing a right mentor is one of them. A mentor should ideally be someone who is a senior to you in experience and would be in a position to give his valuable inputs from time to time. He should be someone who you can look up to for suggestions as to how to tackle certain problems. He should have the necessary experience or suggest you someone for specific consultation if need be. He should also be able to give you his opinion about your images, work you on your portfolio and even see a broader collection of work before they are post-processed so that he can point what he thinks are your best work.