Wanna Become a Better Photographer? (2)

I’m fascinated by “photographers” who almost never photograph, but instead theorize in various discussion forums about the significance of certain technical features or constantly browse the Internet for news about new bodies and lenses. Or by “photographers” who mainly photograph brick walls and line-pair targets and then measure resolution, distortion, vignetting, noise levels, etc.

Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not making fun of those people. Which camera you use and knowing how to operate it properly is of course essential to making good photographs. And if your hobby is talking about gear rather than creating images with it, then by all means, enjoy it!

But if you want to become a better photographer, then focus on the images.

In my previous posting I recommended that you concentrate on your own images: edit them to completion, print them, frame them. Naturally this is the ultimate goal, but if you are as emotional about your images as I am about mine, about their content and the circumstances under which you took them, you’ll probably find it very hard to be your own critic.

So today I suggest an easier first step — focus on other people’s images. Go to exhibitions, look at books, look at image portfolios on the Internet. Try to express in words what it is that you like about some images, why you dislike others. Talk to your friends. Discover the “old” masters, young artists and enthusiasts like you. Write image critiques, join a photo-group, let others critique your own images.

If you want to explore some Internet resources, let me suggest a couple. My primary source of amazing (black-and-white) photography is Lens Work. If you don’t want to subscribe, you could look at the names of the published artists and then google them. They usually have great web sites. Another place to discover current and past photographers as well as photographic books is The Online Photographer. And if you are looking for a photographic community, it’s hard to beat photo.net. For $25 per year you get a chance to store and show your images, look at great photography from all over the world, write critiques and get your work critiqued.

Of course these three addresses represent an absolutely minuscule portion of the web sites related to photographic art, but these are the ones that I frequent, and you might find them interesting too. I hope so…

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