How to Learn Photography?
Updated: Jun 11, 2021
Photographic styles, trends, theories and suggested settings for your gear... what gear, accessories and essentials... so many sources of information you can access.
Where should anyone start? Do all the blogs, video logs, books and courses help develop our understanding of photography? In the majority of cases yes, but not necessary in a way that will help us achieve results to fully withstand our future retrospect analysis!
What I have learnt by spending countless hours following many sources of information, although some repetitive, most with interesting and valuable fresh perspectives, was that I had absolutely no clue what knowledge I had to develop in order to achieve the results I wanted to have!
What do We Want to Learn?
Does what we want to learn factor in as well in the choice of search for knowledge? Absolute!
This is a startup decision I am now certain it should have received a bit more focus from me.
Here are a few thoughts I managed to collect in retrospect of my learning first steps experience and the questions I wished I have asked myself in better time:
What do you most enjoy when taking photos? Is it the intricate puzzle of composition, the technical or creative aspects of using your gear, the mystery of traveling to a new location or maybe post processing in it's immense complexity?
What subjects will you be drawn to photograph most? Would it be landscapes, certain geographical areas, animals, your collection of watches or family portraits?
What gear do you need to start learning?
How much time you have available to learn and practice photography?
By offering considered responses to these questions it would have been easier for me to channel focus and prioritize on educational content that was:
Relevant to my knowledge for the goals I wanted to achieve
Actionable with the time and tools available
Going forward, I will detail on the thoughts that enabled me to consider the first three questions useful for defining learning needs, and present some leads on educational paths.
Note: Wants (or expectations) will change and evolve based on future experiences. I found this to be inevitable and extremely helpful for my development as a photographer. I would encourage anyone to recurrent revise the answers to these questions.
What do You Most Enjoy When Taking Photos?
This question might be equally simple or challenging to answer! It per-requisites a bit of trial on photo processing workflows, be they simple or complex, from determining the subject(s) of an photo, to finding a compelling composition, using your gear to its best ability to capture the data that can receive the final touches in a post processing environment (either in camera or a secondary device software- such as PC or tablet).
Be as it may, if you have no to very limited experience to any of the above mentioned steps, consider other facets of your personality that you can relate to.
A few examples of introspect questions:
Are you drawn towards creative or technical aspects?
To determine a process, would you hand draw a mind map or create a precise calculations sheet?
Depending on your interest or area of comfort, I would recommend you to initially focus on finding educational content that develops your understanding of it. Learning interest in additional skills will fall into place instinctively in its own time. There is no predefined pattern on what skills benefit to be developed prior to others.
Photography usually starts as a hobby rather than a profession, and hobbies require fuel for our interest(s) in order to maintain them.
For example, if you are drawn on presenting your photography's subjects through interesting composition, and you are less interested on learning complex post processing techniques, your best chance of finding the willingness to learn and practice is by primarily focusing on educational content related to composition.
What Subjects Will You be Drawn to Photograph Most?
I have the confidence this set of questions will aid :
How easy do you have access to the subject(s) of interest? Be it as an example the set of watches you are so passionate about or the fascinating Northern Lights. For beginning to develop basic photography knowledge, I would evidently recommend considering first (but not discharging other alternatives) the subjects of interest you have easier access to.
How likely it is you will maintain interest in the identified subject(s) disregarding your ability to develop your photography skills? Avoid prioritizing subjects you might believe are interesting based on their likelihood to capture attention in photos. Consider subjects you have complementary interest in. For example, having an emotional connection and in depth knowledge of a certain location will likely encourage you more to practice the knowledge you develop, thus enhancing the knowledge itself.
Depending on the subject(s) you'll decide to pursue for learning and/or developing your knowledge I would recommend you to find educational content that will help develop a better understanding of how individuals can relate to and find interest in them.
Note: Ideally you would like to develop an audience to provide feedback on your photos.
Having the knowledge to visually capture their attention on the subjects you have a forehand passion for would be most interesting.
See the photo below. The title of the print brings interest to a image that would otherwise lack context.