How do you expand your skill set?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by zedin, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    So I have been wanting to improve my picture taking. However the only pictures I have done are nature shots and nature closeups. I really don't have a clue on how to take good pictures of people or street shots or anything man-made. Its not the technical aspects I cannot get but the seeing the shot. Maybe its because I have always been focused in on nature but I would really like to expand my view and how I look at these other scenes. So kinda a really abstract question but do folks out there have any pointers to try and help see the picture opportunities in non-nature pictures? I can't really go out and just shoot.. I don't think like that. Even with digital I still like to have the shot in my head before clicking the shutter but with urban or people I can never really seem to get the shot to appear in my head.
     
  2. panzershreck

    panzershreck TPF Noob!

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    well you could take pictures of animals, birds are fast, dogs are good, so are cats

    upgrade from there to your family

    you can also simply look at people - their faces, clothes, how they walk, what they're doing, their expressions... that's a good starter

    and of course, nothing is as good as just going out there and shooting what you do know, we've all got to get through the mediocre and cliches before we get to the good stuff, you learn more even if you don't take a single good photo (plus you learn faster than if you were taking pictures of dogs or whatnot)

    it's more about looking for photos than planning photos, basically

    similarly i have no idea how to take nature shots, i don't really like taking pictures without people unless the shot really conveys something, and i'm really used to urban environments, so i just try whatever i can (not exactly brilliant results, but whatevah)
     
  3. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    I'm a portrait photographer at heart. I've been doing it a long time and it seems to come pretty naturally to me. That said, I have been doing more landscapes, macro and other types of photography lately. It's very frustrating for me because it doesn't come easy at all. Everything I do is second guessed and for the first time in my life, I'm bracketing like mad. When I get a good shot, I feel extra good about it cause I know I really worked my tail off to get it. :mrgreen: If you want to do other types of photography you're going to have to motivate yourself to just shoot. Shoot anything and everything that you can. I know it's not what you want to hear but there's no other way to get good at a different type of photography without working your way through the learning curve. It's not something that you read in a book and just automatically put into practice. When you think about it, the best learning is often just a lot of trial and error.
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    There are a number of branches of Photography and so you get a number of different types of photographer.
    Some people have an affinity for Landscape, others for Portrait, Sport, Reportage and so on.
    It can take quite some time to find out where your sympathies lie.
    The best thing to do is to photograph what interests you - at least it will give you a place to start.
     
  5. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Well I wasn't expecting a formula for urban shooting =p Guess I will just stick with it then and get over my deal about not pressing the shutter until I think I have a shot. I will just shoot and go from there =D
     
  6. digifoto

    digifoto TPF Noob!

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    Looking at work by other photographers is always good for generating ideas, so have a look through some photography mags or books. Make notes about any images you particularly like, and use those as a starting point for ideas about photos you could take.
     
  7. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    I started off with landscapes but found myself gravitating towards candid portraits. What helped me a lot was looking at as many images as I could. After taking a photo class called "Snapshot to Series" in which the insturctor spent some time getting us familiar with different photographers' works, I went to the library and took out as many monographs as I could carry. After I studied those, I went back for more. If you are interested in environmental portraiture and street photography, then I would suggest starting with people like Henri-Carier Bresson, Robert Frank, and Eugene Smith. This helped me a lot.

    One of the things I found that I had to develop was the ability to see an image faster. With the landscapes, I could take my time to get everything right, but with candids, I had to prepare myself ahead of time and be ready for anything. As Louis Pasteur said, "In matters of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind." Cartier-Bresson also followed this mindset, calling that point the "decisive moment".

    In my opinion, unless you want to pose people, it requires switching from a "constructing" mindset to a "capturing" one.

    If you do want to stick with the construction method, then studio work might be more up your alley. Looking at the work of photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts would probably help.

    As far as man-made stuff goes, I found that urban landscapes followed the same mindset as natural ones (for me). I haven't done any still-life work, as that combines the two ends of the spectrum I have the least interest in: non-people and studio.
     
  8. zedin

    zedin TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Yeah.. thats is a good idea. I just hate the feeling that I am 'copying' someone =p (even if you are not). I just hate doing the same old stuff everyone and their dog has done mainly because I cannot really see what I can add. I think of all the times I have been to Yosemite I only took a picture from Tunnel View once just because I can't stand my pic being the same and 50 million other ones. I guess this has always been a hang up with learning new areas because I feel that if I go off someone elses work then its not my 'own' picture.
     
  9. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    Well, the work is there whether you view it or not, and it's pretty hard to be completely original. There are lots of combinations of choices, but no matter what style you end up with, it will remind people of others. That's just the way the mind works.

    I had the same concerns, but I figured that by at least by learning what others are doing and have done, I could pick something that worked for me and actually have a better chance of not copying anyone.

    Before I knew who Gene Smith was, I took this picture:

    [​IMG]

    Shorty after I started studying up on everyone, someone asked if it was a quote of Smith's "The Walk To Paradise Garden".

    [​IMG]

    Even though I didn't know who he was at the time, I still ended up shooting something similar enough to evoke a comparison. I've also been told by someone that my work reminded them of Keith Carter. I consider them both strong influences, and would love to have their skill, but I still think I'm different. I personally think that once you start getting practiced, there's no avoiding it.

    I think as long as you are making the art you want to make, there's not much reason to worry about the rest of the world. Even if your work evokes a comparison, your work will still be different, because it's born out of your own personal life experience.
     
  10. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    I found that when I took a class, just being around other people shooting, critiquing the photos and talking really helped me open my eyes to other styles.
     
  11. PachelbelsCanon350D

    PachelbelsCanon350D TPF Noob!

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    I find this the most helpful as well, in all things creative. As a graphic designer I put out the best work when I'm in a bustling office full of other people who are also cranking out ideas. I'm surrounded by books and magazines and stimulation like that.

    I have the opposite problem of yours, I see art in the abstract, urban, even things inside my house. I really really struggle with getting out and finding art in nature. I go out, and am in awe of the beauty of the outdoors, but I just can't seem to capture it. I bring my pictures home and they look tiny, flat, and underwhelming. But I agree with the post above, that it helps tremendously to just surround yourself by others who are good at what you want to be good at. I have learned lots just from observing the works of others on this forum. :)
     

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