Learning to see

When I got my first camera I snapped pictures of everything in front of me. I was surprised to discover the camera captured a different view of the world than my eyes. It was interesting to see what the camera saw. There was no real consideration of subject matter and not much attention paid to framing. Just point and shoot. Of course my pictures were uninteresting to say the least. Most of them were blurred or angled with the subject half out of the frame if it was there at all. They were just random images of nothing in particular.

That prompted me to start buying photography books. After reading several (dozen) I discovered that they all gave the same rudimentary advice accompanied by beautiful images made by the author. I don’t want to sound cynical but most of the books were about showcasing pretty pictures not helping the reader. The lesson I took from self help photography books is that people are desperate to get their images into print and are willing to sacrifice your money to do so.

My next stop was online to the photography forums. It turns out these places are also populated by people who are desperate to get their images in front of an audience. That was a step forward because I was desperate to do the same thing. Good or bad someone should admire my hard work. It turned out the forums were far more useful in learning photography than self help books. The reason is that they contain a high percentage of bad photography. It was easier for me to analyze bad images made by someone else rather than my own. Over time that made me a better self editor and my images improved. I also met plenty of nice people and made a few friends. Overall contributing to online forums has been an great experience.

Now having shot twenty thousand images more or less in the past few years I’m still learning to see. My goal is to be more selective about what I capture with my camera. I shoot slower and try to visualize a finished image before pressing the shutter. I’ve also spent time learning other essential skills such as image post processing and printing. There is still much to learn and enjoy along the way to becoming a competent photographer.


Author: Ken

Avid photographer and old guy technologist.