Q&A: How does practice improve your photography and take you to the next level?

What to do the guys that came before us have to say about photography?  Each of these quotes can be related back to practice and the need for learning the basic principles of photography and proper shooting technique.  Think about these a minute.  It is interesting how these quotes mean different things to those at different levels of of experience.

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”  ― Henri Cartier-Bresson

“There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.” – Robert Heinecken

“The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.” – Ansel Adams

“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” – Jay Maisel

“It can be a trap of the photographer to think that his or her best pictures were the ones that were hardest to get. – Timothy Allen

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adam

“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”– Ansel Adam

To be honest each of these quotes meaning changed for me over the last few years.   As my understanding of photography has grown,  and the understanding of what the quotes above mean keeps hitting closer to home.

Let’s back up a bit.  A few years ago, I decided I wanted to take my photography to the next level and I took Henri’s quote above literally, but he made that quote about shooting film.  When shooting film, photographers would take a long time to set up for shots because the camera would take only 1 or 36 shots, if they were lucky.   They could not take the shot and look at the back of their camera to see how it might look.   The masters did not likely have auto focus, and did not have image stabilization and vibration control or many of the tools we have today.

What they did have, was time… without distraction and time to learn their craft.  I decided to try to take 100,000 photos in one year of various subjects.  That year, I only made it to 70,000 shots, but after that time I noticed a marked increase in the quality of my shots, the number of keepers and my comfort level with my camera’s controls and features.      I made sure to try different sports and types of photography to create new challenges.  Also having different goals on each outing and mastering different techniques.   Paying attention to using different perspectives and trying to be in the moment and make photographs and not snapshots.

In March 2015, I purchased the 7D Mark II, and as of this morning I just was curious about it and I’ve taken 68, 716 shots in 6 months on weekends and vacations days.

I looked because today I only took 30 shots.  It was cold and windy, but I wanted to practice…since I was on vacation.   Below are a few flowers from my walk this morning where I took photos of a few flowers from different angles.   You have to be out taking photos and trying new things.  Practicing proper camera holding techniques, paying attention to the light, getting a good exposure and always remember the backgrounds.

See more images from the last few years at my website.

20151123- Magnolia Gardens-8 20151123- Magnolia Gardens-7-Edit 20151123- Magnolia Gardens-4-Edit

 

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