I've been digging how to become a better photographer lately, and I would like to document some of the results I've come up with since the beginning of this journey. What follows are personal pieces of advice (from me to me). I haven't won a World Press Award yet, and I did not submit myself to become a Magnum photographer either, but I think that what's written below makes a lot of sense from my perspective. You are welcome to look at what I found and try it out by yourself if just like me, you want to learn more about dealing with a photography business and becoming a better photographer.
Watch less, listen more
We photographer, love gear, photo stories, reviews and all that stuff concerning photography that in fact, doesn't matter. Think about it, do you think Martin Parr or David Guttenfelder spend their free time watching reviews of the new Fujifilm X-T3 on Youtube? Well, I haven't asked them, but I am pretty sure the answer would be no. They are busy working on their photo projects and working on their photography business. Don't get me wrong; I think Youtube is an excellent learning platform for a photographer when used wisely. Learning how to let go of all the cool stuff that we want to watch is step number one.
I said watch less and listen more. I meant that we should also focus more on podcast or video with voice content, things we can listen without having to look at a screen. That makes a lot of sense because it allows us to do others stuff at the same time. It saves us time! We can listen to a podcast in our car, while we are working, while we are jogging, but we can't watch a video while doing these. Skip the screen! Of course, those podcasts or talks should also be about a subject that matters, that's obvious. Let's focus on conversations that are straightly related to growing photography business, a topic like how to find potential customers, how to brand yourself, how to get the best out of social media, how to create content, etc. The best photographers are the best businessman in the domain, they know how to sell their products and services, and that's what we should be studying. There is a lot of good stuff available for free, instead of watching why John Smith changed his Sony A7ii for the A7iii, we should listen to guys like Gary Vee who teaches people how to grow their brand. It makes sense to me.
Shoot more, think less
This is going to be short and sweet. You're bored and don't know what to do? Go out and shoot. Your plans for the night were canceled because of the bad weather? Go out and shoot. You want to figure out how to become a better photographer? Go out and shoot. Your mom loves you... go out and shoot! Got it?
Writing more about your photography is one right way to improve it. It's well known. Stories are what make good photographs better. Have a quick look at National Geographic on Instagram (@natgeotravel), every picture comes with a scenario, it is an excellent example to follow. People want to see great photos, but they love the story that comes with the photo more. Just like me, if you like street photography, create a series with a concept and explain it with words. If you love landscape photography, tell us how you got to capture your images. If you're a traveler, tell people about your adventure and give details that will enhance your pictures.
Get off your comfort zone
Stop doing the same thing. Get inspired and get better by exploring a new type of photography. Change de way you interact with people. Get closer. Go further. Doing the same things on and on kills us a little by little. I know it is comfortable and it feels good to be in a safe spot, but staying there won't make us upgrade as fast as someone who gets out of his comfort zone and tries new stuff and fails and tries again and fails more, etc.
Stop caring about others
I once read something on the internet, something that I found to be super true but sometimes hard to apply. It goes like this: The day you will stop caring about others opinion, is the day you will realize how dangerously free you are.
Take a screenshot of this and make it the background of your iPhone. I like to refer to Dougie Wallace and the way he handles his obstrusive style of shooting when he's out int the street. Please get yourself a cup of coffee and watch this BBC 30 minutes documentary about Dougie. Looking at him working might help you gain some confidence... https://vimeo.com/1948692
Spend your money wisely
For me becoming a better photographer also mean making the right choices. Investing in gear is inevitable. Cameras, flashes, studio, and all that stuff are tools that we need, but equipment isn't all. We need to invest in marketing, advertisement, branding and all that stuff that looks super boring and unrelated to pushing a camera shutter button.
At this moment, I've figured out pretty much everything that's written above, but I am still struggling to get everything done correctly. In other words, I am working on it. Writing this blog post was one way for me to help myself being a better photographer. I wanted to put out everything I found that could make me become a better photographer and share it. Now, time and discipline are what I need.
Thank you for reading!
My Photo Gear:
Fujifilm X-H1 - Amazon link
Fujifilm X-E2 - Amazon link
Fujifilm X100T - Amazon link
Fujifilm XF 18-55 - Amazon link
Fujifilm WCL-X100 - Amazon link