Blog #7. Self Improvement or How to Make Mind-Blowing Images
In any photographer's life or in any creative career path there is a learning curve. The learning curve make be steep or flat and time is relative. There will a learning curve that represents growth and improvement albeit to a point. Inevitably, the artist will "hit the wall" and become bored or uninspired. What is the artist to do? Well, there are those who have had formal study in a subject and may have attained an undergraduate degree or a masters degree in fine arts. Those fortunate individuals will likely refer to and rely on their formal study to find their motivation and direction.
If you are a hobbyist, amateur, or have come to photography later in life, but you are not a professional photographer (whatever that means) then you must turn to various resources to educate yourself and self manage your own learning process. Photography is like anything else in that it requires formal study to know about it, know how to do it, and know how to do it well. If you want to learn dancing, you get dancing lessons. If you want to learn how to cook, you work with a chef to show you around a kitchen. If you want to learn Chinese, you find a language instructor and dig in. You get the point.
Reading books from the giants in the field and trolling the internet is a good start and you can begin that process immediately. There are literally dozens of instructional sites on YouTube http://www.youtube.com and all over the place online. Here are a few that I have investigated with some degree of satisfaction:
B&H Photography in New York is a killer gear site but also hosts professional photographer tutorials that are brilliant http://www.bhphotovideo.com
Adorama is also in New York http://www.adorama.com
Digital Photography School has a free weekly newsletter and countless tutorials http://digital-photography-school.com
Digital Review (Also has a YouTube Channel that is as entertaining as it is educational) http://www.digitalrev.com
Then, after you've clicked and scrolled until your heart's content, go to the best place on earth to view the best photos by the best photographers.
Now that's a lot of reading and research. Follow these sites, read their newsletters, watch the videos, and pour over hundreds even thousands of high quality photographs. You will feel like you've earned a degree in photography at some point. The only problem is that you did not earn a degree in photography, did you? No, neither did I.
I want to share a bit of my own journey to photography. As I shared in Blog #1 http://www.zenfolio.com/jeremyhgreenberg/e/pages/blog.aspx#733468553
I began my love affair with making pictures in high school with a hands on Black and White film course. I borrowed my father's 1959 Nikon F and felt like a proverbial pig in shit. It's such a nice tool to use and then you get to create images. It's nothing short of magic. Fast forward to a degree in psychology and then special education in graduate school where I took a sculpture class as an elective with one colleague. It was a summer course and it was in the basement of Main Hall in Teachers College, Columbia University. After an insanely intense year of full time work, full time courses, and full time everything, this class was seriously the most fun I had in graduate school, in the classroom. Aside from my mother being an artist and interior designer for ever and having a father with a mechanical drawing and marketing background, I have had no formal instruction. I played with a few cameras over the years mostly taking snap shots of this and that, the wife, the house, and the kids. Until one day the kids were fighting over the Nikon point and shoot and broke it beyond repair. My photography went very dark for a while after that. Black even.
Fast forward many years and an impending trip to Japan. I had to but a camera for that and teach myself how to use it. I bought a Nikon DLSR and there rest is history, as they say. I think I've done some good work in the last few years but I want to be better. Scratch that, I want to make images that keep's your attention longer than it takes to type a 140 character tweet. Yes, that's the goal in my (photography) life. I've decided to get serious about my work. I mean play, serious about my play. Serious play is one of my new favorite oxymorons!
I went on a tour to Hong Kong's newest art school SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design, USA). Their campus was absolutely beautiful. The photo below was in one of their photography studio classrooms. It had computers, scanners, and printers that were the size of a small Volkswagen. They have a HUGE darkroom and all the gear you would ever need to processing film. Film! The intoxicating aromas of developer and fixer chemicals from my beloved high school class began to come back like that scene from Pixar's Ratatouille when the food critic takes a bite of the dish that makes him flashback to his childhood in the French countryside. I was hooked. Ay! to be a student again but without having to write a paper or take a quiz every week. Like heaven.
After the tour, I quickly arrived home and applied online. I will try to take one class as a non-degree student. One at a time, and maybe (eventually) I may enrol in a degree program, masters I think. I have no idea if I would even be accepted. I'm going for it.
Wish me luck.
May the light be with you, always.
SCAD Hong KongFujiFilm X-T1