The Key to Personal Growth as a Photographer

The Key to Personal Growth as a Photographer

What is the key to growth as a photographer? Is it buying the best gear you can possibly afford? Nope. Or is it strategically curating your Instagram feed? Probably not. 

So, what is the path to progress as a photographer? In my opinion, the best thing we can do for our own development as creatives is to study the work of other photographers and artists. No matter what gear we have or how nice our social media looks to our viewers, we risk stagnation if we aren't learning from fellow photographers.

If you specialize in one genre of photography, I can't recommend enough studying the work of other photographers in other genres. I'm mainly a landscape photographer, but I find much inspiration in street and architecture photography. Viewing George Byrne's photographs, for example, has influenced the way I look at nature. Though his images mostly showcase concrete jungles, his simple, colorful compositions have helped me see trees, mountains, and rivers in a simpler light. 

Further, once I discovered famous paintings by Caravaggio, my style drastically changed. Caravaggio was an Italian painter during the Baroque period, and he often used a technique called chiaroscuro. This artistic approach manipulates extreme darkness and brightness to create emphasis and and dramatic contrast in an image. After discovering this artist's style, I quickly fell in love and began to apply it to my own photographs. 

What do you think is the key to personal growth as a photographer? Do you agree with this philosophy or do you have a different approach? If you agree, what photographers and artists influence your work and the way you see the world? 

Cover photo by Sushobhan Badhai on Unsplash.

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12 Comments

I agree, those things are important, but think it's more important to develop and scrutinize my thoughts and feelings about my subjects and life as a whole. The former helps in discovering new ways to say what I want to say while the latter helps me discover what it is I want to say. Without the former, I may be able to communicate, albeit less eloquently. Without the latter, I'm babbling about nothing.

joseph cole's picture

absolutely my background is painting and illustration I'm used to making my own colors, creating depth, shadows and highlights so for me I'm learning how to deal with whats given and working with it instead of making whats in my head.

Relentless practice and self-critique to improve.

Study to broaden.

Geoff Thompson's picture

Just take pictures.

I ve found out that the best I can do is to go and shoot and change/experiment with the scene setups (I mean holy trinity and distances with different lens I have) - what I mean is learning to control focus - as I found really hard to shoot 200 mm f2. 8 just 1 meter from my subject etc... In general knowing which parts of the photo are going to be in focus. Eg last lesson I learned was I can get much better pictures of my kids when using live view with face tracking (dual pixel though) then to try these always moving devils shoot trough viewfinder.... And so on....

Rick McEvoy's picture

The key for me to personal growth is to get out and take photos. Work hard at your compositions.Study the results and get honest independent crituiques of your work.

https://rickmcevoyphotography.com/

Tim Behuniak's picture

I enjoy your crisp, clean style. Perhaps studying the work of landscape photographers will help you further develop your portfolio!

Photography as an art is pretty much dead, thanks to the cell phone. There is no need for perfect photography with correct lighting and DOF and all the hoopla that most of us spent years mastering. I was at a wedding 2 weeks ago and the bride and groom took 80% of their photos with cell phones, the hired photographer was a bystander. My advise to anyone planning a career in photography is "NO". Photographs are viewed online at 72 dpi on small screens in numerous lighting conditions. No one cares if the photographs are in focus much less correct lighting, its going to take another 20 years for current photographers to get it in their heads that their high price, expensive gear generated images are not needed. DSLRs are not even seen these days at events, its all phones, and i must admit these photos from phones are just as good as any DSLR.

Tim Behuniak's picture

It could be argued that the right market values a true artist, not just a cell phone shooter. Perhaps you're not in/catering to the right that will value your hard work, knowledge, and artistic ability. If photography as an art is pretty much dead, then photographers wouldn't put out photo books or host galleries. Yet, they still are. I beg to differ.

Go to any event and see what kind of photography is in motion.. hint.. its not a dslr.

Tim Behuniak's picture

I've shot a few weddings at a fairly high price and always had success. Of course family and friends and the occasional aunt use their phones, tablets, or even entry-level DSLR, but as the photographer, I'm hired with the expectation that I have knowledge and skill to capture critical moments and deliver high-quality images to my clients that their family and friends cannot. The same can be said of concerts, public events, etc. Still not sure where you're hanging around, haha.

Shakil Ahamed's picture

Tim Behuniak, really you touch all important thing for personal growth as a photographer. I think more and more learning about the photograph and communicate all of the professional photographers for getting important and valuable tips for increasing photographing knowledge.