What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Photography!
It’s better on the podcast but I know some of you peeps like to read so take your pick! 🙂
Today I am talking about the thing I wish I knew when I started learning photography!
As a teacher of photography I find myself more and more like a broken record. I am constantly harping on about the need for practice. But I truly believe it needs to be repeated over and over again. It is that important!
There is so much to learn in photography in general but especially when you are beginning. I find that many beginners underestimate what is involved. During my beginners workshops I can see the surprise in the faces in front of me when they realise that there is so much more to photography than composition and button-pressing.
If you have been listening to the podcast then I am sure there have been times that you have had to stop, rewind and listen again. That’s great. I would really encourage you to do that. That is something you can not do during a live workshop. However, that is not enough.
You could consume every bit of information available to you about photography and it still wouldn’t be enough.
Doing that just makes you knowledgeable about photography. It doesn’t make you a photographer.
You know where I am going with this don’t you?
When you first learn how to control your camera manually your head is literally BURSTING with all of the things you have to remember before even taking a shot;
Which ISO to start with
Which WB setting to select
Selecting the correct autofocus modes
Which metering mode to choose
Where to meter the light
Actually metering the light
Adjusting your exposure settings
Moving your focus point
Composing your scene
Holding your camera correctly and steadily
You have fingers all doing different things at the same time and a brain which has 40 tabs open at once.
It is really easy to give up at this point in your photography journey. It is much easier to just switch that camera back to one of the automatic modes and take a photograph. Most people don’t persevere and I will tell you why…
It is because every time they give it a try it has maybe been a few weeks or months since they last gave it a try. They have to look stuff up again because they have forgotten. They have to re-learn lots of things before they can even get started. It ends up being every bit as difficult as it was the last time they tried to practice.
And there is that word again, practice.
Think about when you start a new job. On that first day you are being shown a hundred different processes and learning countless new names. When you get home your head is bursting isn’t it? But you know that you will get there. You know that tomorrow it will be a little easier and by next month you will be almost completely comfortable with it all.
Now I want you to imagine that you only went to this new job once a month or even once every two months (I know it sounds like a perfect life!)
Leaving all that time between going to work at your new job would mean that every time you did go you would feel ‘new’. You would spend much of the time confused and trying to re-learn the processes you learned last time and you certainly wouldn’t remember everyone’s name. You would be stressed, tired and fed up at the end of every working day but, much worse than that, you would feel down on yourself. Like you weren’t good at what you were trying to do.
Unfortunately this was me when I first started learning photography. I used to leave months between practicing. Literally months! I took two steps backwards before I ever moved forwards because I was going over old ground every single time.
I WISH I could go back and do it all differently!
If you have children then I know that you will be familiar with this… How many times do you find yourself telling your children they need to practice something? My son is terrible for becoming really frustrated if he is not good at something straight away. He wants to give up before he even really gets started. We had this issue when he started learning piano and learning to play rugby. The thing is, when you are a child you have your parents insisting that you give something a proper go before deciding whether to give it up don’t you? They drive you to wherever you need to go and they encourage you to practice.
But who is doing that for you when you are an adult?
Unfortunately that responsibility falls on yourself as an adult. And we have exactly the same tendencies as children do. If something is proving difficult, and it is not actually essential, then most of us give up.
So you know what I am getting at here. With photography, practice is key. You will not become skilled without it. And when I say practice, I mean a lot of practice. Especially at the beginning before things start to become second nature.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking;
‘But Julie, I just don’t have enough time. Life is so busy!’
Tell me about it! Life is crazy busy for most of us isn’t it. Finding time for a hobby is nigh on impossible at times. I really do understand because I am just as guilty as the rest of you.
Now if you are reading this and you can’t identify with it then that’s wonderful. Maybe you are one of the few who got into photography, caught the bug immediately and you have rarely been without a camera in your hand since. You do exist and I applaud you. I really do. I love nothing more than to see the progress someone like that makes in such a short space of time.
Beginner photographers who practice constantly are in the minority and I know that for sure because I teach beginners photography and I keep in touch with many of them via my facebook community. The vast majority find it extremely hard to find the time to practice their photography. Those who do are streets ahead. Not because they are more skilled by the way – but because they simply have more experience!
Most of us spend our time putting work and family first. We forget about ourselves don’t we? The thing is, finding time to pursue something you are interested in is so important! It is good for the soul. People with interests beyond work and family are happier, more fulfilled people. It should be a priority for that exact reason.
If we are happier and more fulfilled then we will most likely be more productive at work and more engaged at home with the family.
So we all chatted about it in the facebook group last week. I asked everyone to complete the following sentence;
The hardest thing about learning photography is…
And the overwhelming response was ‘finding time’.
Now I knew that there were many photographers in the group who were very dedicated to their photography and had been from the very beginning so I asked them the very next day if they could share their secrets with the rest of us in the hope that maybe we could all learn from them.
The responses were so helpful that I thought they had to be shared via the podcast. So I am currently putting them all together in some kind of order and I will be sharing them with you in the next episode ‘Six ways to make time for your photography!’
I know this is a common issue so please do tune in if you are suffering from it! In the meantime come and join us in our extremely friendly facebook group and link up with like-minded learners.
And don’t forget if you haven’t signed up for my free crash course you can do that by visiting www.autotomanual.com
See you next time to solve these time issues which are plaguing us all!