Becoming a Master Photographer

This is a dream of many of us photographers. To be called a master, to have other photographers yearning to create like we do, to have clients lining up outside our studio doors, to make images that stand the test of time, to be remembered.

But how do we get there? What are the steps involved to achieve all of these things?? Scott Bourne at PhotoFocus made a great post today about becoming this master photographer, and several of his point hit me hard. These are things I’m constantly struggling with, haunting reminders that I am human and I will always have massive amounts of learning to do..

Summing up Scott’s full post (which I highly recommend reading!!)

1. Stop comparing your gear against anyone else’s gear.

– Seriously one of my largest weaknesses.. Not necessarily comparing what I use to others, but constantly on the look out for new gear, something bigger & better. Rather I need to spend more time mastering what I currently have.

2. Try to understand what it means to have vision.

– I feel like I am fairly good at this. Scott talks about looking past the obvious and photographing the details people overlook. Work on creating new story out of a scene where the same story has been told countless times.

3. Go on a photo walk – but don’t take your camera.

– Very difficult for me! I do scout locations, but always seem to have my camera with me. I really like what Scott pointed out about Ansel Adams, how he would regularly scout with only a yellow filer, a notebook and cardboard cutouts matching his different focal length options. A great strategy to help us slow down. In my experiences, my best photographs have come from when I slowed down and took the time to think it out vs blasting out a dozen frames and used those to make my decisions. I also love the cardboard cutout idea! In college one of my professor gave me an empty slide frame to help compose images in my mind. I’ve since lost it in the clutter of my office, but would love to revisit this thought process. I’ve discovered that my hand at arms length is approximately what I would capture at 70mm, which I often use to judge which lens I will use for a particular shot. The only downside to the cardboard compassion is that you will not have the compression a telephoto lens will give the image.. Our eyesight is equal to about a 60-70mm lens (at least mine is..). So all of our cardboard cutouts would have the compression of a 70mm lens, which we all know is very different from a 24mm, or a 200mm lens. At this point it is up to you to discover what your glass is capable of and learn how to see what you will capture without the need to look through your camera.

4. Care about, know about, think about, dream about, learn about, talk about and downright fall in love with your subjects.

– This has been the bane of my existence.. Up until now I have been photographing everything under the sun, I don’t really have many goals as a photographer outside of being the best I can possibly be. I really need to start specializing what I focus on and really start to get to know my subjects more intimately.

5. Stop thinking about about the reward and spend all your time thinking about the journey.

– Another bane of mine… Reward is so very nice. Especially when the reward is a paycheck I can use to pay my bills! This isn’t the only type of reward Scott is referring to however. What I took from the rest of his text was to stop expecting the title of the worlds greatest photographer to fall into my lap. National Geographic won’t call me tomorrow to go to Alaska and photograph whales. I still need to prove myself, I need to make more mistakes and start loving the process I am living right now! With my eyes fixed on the future I can’t enjoy what I have right now.

Hopefully Scott’s post will inspire you to start thinking a little differently when it comes to your photo career. Or any career for that matter! These principals can be applied to any situation! Keep your chin up, master and fall in love your current situation, and Keep Shooting!

Chris W ‘WhonPhoto’

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