Practice – gateway to creativity
You may, just like I did, have the wrong impression that creativity is a gift we were born with. Even though we all have different aptitudes or inclinations, I truly believe that the more you practice and know the field you are working in, the more knowledgeable and creative you can become over the time. Photography needs vision and imagination but also technical knowledge. At first I thought that you can get away with trying to see things and photograph them in your own way, but what if you do not know how to capture them?
What if you imagine something but your technical ignorance prevents you from photographing the scene successfully? What if, while you search for your settings in the camera, the moment passed away and there is nothing to photograph anymore?
To be a successful photographer you have to know your camera, know what your gear does and how it can help you capture what you want. You can only be creative once you get passed the technical stuff that prevents you from thinking about the image, the subject, composition, balancing elements of the photograph.
Practicing is not just about the gear, it’s quite intuitive to understand that the more you play with your camera, the better you will know how to use it. Still, there are so many elements that you have to include in your practice.
- Patience – this is for me the most important element to practice, even more now with digital photography. It’s so easy to press the shutter at every scene that you see in front of you without even thinking for a moment what is your subject and what mood are you trying to capture. Photography transformed itself over the years from a contemplative form of art to a “capture the moment” phenomena that everybody uses. This is why patience – waiting for the right moment, right light, right expression – is something that has to be practiced at all times.
- Work your subject – now because you practiced patience and you are actively thinking about your subject every time you put the camera to the eye, you have to work that subject so your final image shows your own vision of the scene. This means getting closer or further away, trying different angles, changing lenses, or even come back on a different day that will help you fulfill your vision.
- Understanding exposure – you can get away with not knowing settings in your camera (that will only make your life easier, by the way) but you cannot get away with not understanding exposure. This is a crucial step in your journey as photographer and has to be practiced every single time you take your camera out of the bag. Only when you will be able to fully control your camera, will you be able to progress in photography. Try to understand the connection of Shutter Speed, ISO and Aperture and practice them with every new photograph you take by shooting in manual mode.
- Analyze your images in post production – this is one of the most important steps to practice so you can evolve as a photographer. It is important to go through your images regularly and analyze them with a critical eye, not only to see how you evolved but also to find ways to improve. This is a critical point that will help you get to know your lenses, achieve balance, accomplish what you imagined and realize what could have been done differently.
I am sure you all can find different things to practice on, focusing on your weakest points. Take your camera in your hands and learn something new with every new shoot. The more familiar you are with your camera, your lenses, your flashes, working with them becomes second nature. If you have the technical part sorted out, your brain can work on being creative.
Only when you practiced enough you will understand that this is your gateway to improvement and, as time passes by, it will open the door to creativity. What do you include in your practice? What are the things that make you a better photographer? We would love to hear your own experience.