Photography is sometimes seen as a hobby that is “easy to learn but hard to master.” Even the most experienced professional photographers are hesitant to claim to know everything about photography because many look like “fish out of water” when asked questions outside of their normal niche. One of the best ways to enhance your images is to learn as much as possible about the art and science of photography. Fortunately, there are many ways to educate yourself on the fine details of photography.
Check out local art exhibitions.
If you are just starting out in the vast world of photography, try to visit as many photo exhibitions as possible. Viewing the work of well-known and talented photographers will help you learn about the style differences found in many sub-genres of photography (fashion, art, nature, etc.) and can also inspire you to take photos you never thought possible. In addition, exploring images from other photographers builds your aesthetic eye—the more you see in a photo for good or evil, the more reliably you can copy those elements.
Join the online community.
One of the best and worst things about the internet is that if someone is interested in a topic, they will find information about it with the click of a mouse. For new photographers, the Internet can be a source of information, inspiration, or job opportunities. Sites like Photography.com have forums where members can gather to share their work for criticism and ask more experienced photographers questions about lighting, film, composition, and anything else that may come up. Such online communities are usually very welcome, as everyone remembers being a new person at some point.
Learn from your teacher.
If your schedule and budget allow, you may want to consider taking a photography lesson at your local adult school or community. In addition to being guided through the “more literary” elements of photography, your instructor will likely have a list of great assignments to help you grow as an artist. The only way to really take advantage of the full power of photography is to challenge yourself to understand its many elements, and photography lessons can give you a roadmap through these elements with the support of a teacher if you’re lost or panicking.
Shooting every day
This may go without saying, but the best way to learn about photography is to experience it for yourself. Experiment with your camera, shoot in all weather conditions, and never be afraid to try a new environment or approach. The more experience you have with taking different shots, the more comfortable you will feel when the time is right for a perfect shot. You should focus on learning one photographic element at a time—for example, spend one day learning contrast and another day working on depth of field. This will help keep your photos fresh and help you get out of your “comfort zone”.
You can’t learn to master photography overnight, but if you’re interested in developing your skills, be prepared to spend time learning. Have as much fun as possible and always go on a trip with the camera in hand and the goal in mind, and you will find that learning is often secondary to the shooting experience. Just remember to reserve a movie (or memory cards) and keep the batteries fresh!