September 8, 2011

Bonus – How I learned to take a photo

One of my first photos

School is for suckers.

This, of course, is not true for everyone – but when it comes to photography, I was able to get a much better education outside the classroom than I ever did inside one. To be honest, I’ve never really embraced school in any of its forms. I floated through high school, able to succeed because I wrote well. I got a university degree (in the world I actually work no less!), but didn’t really “learn” what I do until there was a paycheque attached.

I never even picked up my first camera until I was nearly 30.

The reason? Newborn baby. I took all sorts of awful snapshots those first couple of years and when Canon came out with its first consumer SLR, I hopped on board. I took a class and learned the basics, then took another class to learn the intermediates and, well, it wasn’t a fun time.

My real photo education has come from three places – the Internet, books by favourite photographers and trying stuff out for myself. If you’re like me and want to learn more about taking great pics without getting into study-mode, you might want to try these things out too.

The Internet – find stuff you like
I’m constantly looking for photo tips on the web. My big passion is lighting, so I spend a lot of time at (not recommended unless you’re a lighting nerd). I like surfing around, looking at great photos and emulating what I learn from them. For that I just hit Google or Flickr or by looking at the work of other photographers I admire.

·      Communities: Photojojo and Photography Talk
·      Blogs: Strobist, Chase Jarvis
·      Inspiration: Flickr, Chromasia

Books – Get to know Scott Kelby and Joe McNally
I got most of my “formal” learning from books – posing, lighting and inspiration. My all-time favourite is from celeb photographer Michael Grecco. “Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait” was an amazing read. Taught me tonnes about how to turn a great idea into a great photo. Others to think about:

·      Scott Kelby is your man when it comes to Photoshop and Lightroom
·      Joe McNally is a National Geographic photographer with a great eye and nifty insights. His stuff can be a bit technical, but it’s always worth a read

Experience – Screw up a whole lot

And one of my best photos.

There’s rarely a photo session I have where I don’t learn something big – a lot of which shows up in this blog. Missing a messy face or overexposing because I bumped a setting makes me better at taking photos. I’m still taking loads of pictures of my kids these days, it’s just that they look more professional and interesting than ever before.

Want to see more bonus stuff -- and talk tech with other photographers? Check out fab Frame One sponsors Intel Canada on Facebook.

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