This Will Make You Realize That Photography Takes Time, Patience, and Passion to Master but Even the Worst Can Learn

You might think your progression is slow, you might think you suck and will never be as good as your idols. It takes time to learn photography and here I show you my development.

In the above video, I share a lot of my old photography and spoiler alert; it is terrible. I am however not ashamed of it, because it led me to the photographer I am today and I have absolutely loved that journey. It is also important to notice that I did not use social media to reach a broad audience for the first many years. I just uploaded to my private Facebook account because I wanted to show my photos. I had no expectation of ever get to earn money from it. From 2011/2012 photography was just a hobby and I wanted to improve.

When I learned about a "long shutter speed" everything changed!

Back then, I photographed everything. Flowers, car trails, roads, stars, fishing boats, empty beaches and sunsets. So many sunsets. I relatively fast learned about raw files and with the help of Canon’s raw converter, which is a very simple version of Adobe Lightroom, I figured out how professional photographers managed to change their photos. My mind was blown by the flow of dopamine and it instantly made me addicted to photography. I have not retrieved from it.

With the help of post processing I really managed to pull out those colors.

Over the next years, I continued to photograph in east and west. Through various YouTube videos, I got the hang of camera settings, depth of field, ISO, what lenses to use for what and so forth. I also came by some fantastic colorful and dramatic photos that were called HDR!

I do not even know what to say...

I think we all have had our HDR phase. Besides HDR, I also had a thing for light painting and lens flares.

I made light painting with lasers, flash lights, torches, steel wool and sparkles and it was a lot of fun!

But, it was by documenting different social events I became happy about photographing humans. I also had many friends who were not afraid of standing in front of a camera, which made it easy to practice headshots and commercial photography. For a long time, I thought that was the direction I wanted to go. Highly influenced by tutorials from photographers like Joel Grimes and Peter Hurley I got my first studio and went to work.

For a long time I thought portrait and headshot photography was what I was meant to do.

Over the years, I combined many of the different skills I had learned. Portraits and light painting, light painting and building, landscapes and portraits, and loads of editing. I loved the post-processing phase of photography – it was here my vision came into reality.

Combining studio work with out-door backgrounds helped me make some imaginative images.

After a growing interest in landscape photography and heavily influenced by Photographing the World with Elia Locardi, I decided to head to Iceland for three weeks during autumn 2015. On the first day in Iceland, I experienced both a gorgeous sunset at a huge waterfall and a magical night with northern lights on top of a volcano crater. That was when I realized I wanted to do landscape photography for many, many years to come. The photos that came out of my first visit to Iceland varied a lot in quality, but over the next 6-9 months, I managed to curate, edit, and release the best ones.

My "best" photo from my first tour to Iceland - also the single photo that has earned me the most.

After a couple more trips to Iceland, where I kept building on top of previous experiences I realized that not all landscape photos needed a shutter speed of two minutes. During 2016 and 2017 I got myself to the Western U.S, the Faroe Islands, Britain, and other locations in Europe, always with the goal in mind of getting the most amazing and epic photos no matter the conditions.

With the help of my composite skills I managed to make a rather powerful collection of Milky Way images from the US.

What made me grow the most in this period, besides continued influence from YouTube, tutorials, and my own curiosity for pushing the limits, were my photography friends. Having some friends with the same passion who can review your work is essential for your growth and push your photos from good to great!

Despite getting wet, moody weather always delivers some of my favorite photos.

Over the years, I had several small jobs as a videographer, portrait photographer, and wedding photographer, but if your passion is not in that work, you surely want to move on. During 2018 and especially 2019, I reached the point where I was able to start earning some real money from my landscape photography and my YouTube channel has surely been the key to it all. With ideas from workshop clients and my co-YouTuber Nigel Danson, I have managed to monetize my work. It took me about four years to find what genre of photography I was most passionate about and another 2-3 years to monetize it. I am not saying it will be the same for you, but I will say that it takes time if you want to live from it.

Combining several different editing techniques this photo came together.

Running a business and a YouTube channel leaves unsurprisingly little time to develop as a photographer, which on one hand is a shame, however, I am not in a rush and I do not want to burn through it all too fast. The question is also in what way to go from here. I shoot more locally, I learn what photos I actually resonate the most with in the long run, and I explore other genres within nature photography such as woodland and abstract photography. What will stick and what will bore me only time will tell, but I know for sure that my development as a photographer is still ongoing and there is plenty still to learn!

In 2019 my passion for woodland photography exploded.

During 2019 and 2020 I have really started to use the long lens more in my landscape photography.

Check out the video above to see even more of my old photos.

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4 Comments

Jordan McChesney's picture

I love nothing more than when great photographers open up about their learning process. I love going back and laughing at some of my worst images ever, it helps me remember where I used to be, which helps a lot when giving advice/critiques to people just getting into photography.

Thanks for sharing Mads!

By the way, I too am a lover of the long lens. I almost never leave home without my 70-200 despite making me wake up with the back pain of a 70 year old man, haha.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

You're much welcome, Jordan! It's always fun to go back and see your process and yes the long lens is a great tool!

Yeah, really interesting to see how you have developed - often don't get to see that. Inspiring me to get on with editing more - There is so much you can do with an image,as long as you are honest that it's composited - I enjoy the challenge of getting the best shot I can in camera but I enjoy editing too.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks, Ian. Yeah, I don't think people have to disclose how they made a certain photo unless there are some external requirements for it like competition or some investigative cases. However, it is wrong to lie saying one image is one exposure if it is not ;)