Are you tired of seeing your peers gain more followers than you on Instagram? Does it always feel like you're behind everyone else on a technical level, or that maybe you don't get the respect you deserve? Well, I've got the perfect solution for you.
Okay, if you haven't figured it out before clicking on the article, I do apologize for the click-bait title, but really, dude, in this day and age you should have seen it coming. No, there is no simple trick to getting better, but I have condensed the path to improvement into three easy to remember philosophies? Parts? Peas? Yes! That's it.
The Three P's
That's it, folks. All it takes is hours and hours of concentrated effort. There is no magic bullet when it comes to learning a skill, and you're fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Yes, some people can figure things out a little quicker, or they possibly have some innate ability to judge a perfect composition, but for most of us plebs, we just need to put in more hours. It's also worth noting that it's important to learn smartly; as in, set goals for yourself, instead of just mindlessly wandering from one genre to the next, repeating the same technical mistakes or just not pushing yourself to learn something new. It's extra hard if you want to turn your hobby into a full-time profession, but there is a solution to that.
Ha. Got you again. It takes years and years of practice to reach a high level of anything. It can be very frustrating at times, but you need to be patient with yourself. Just keep putting in the hours, and eventually, some little thing will click, and you'll take another step upwards. You're not going to be Vivian Maier in a year. If you think about it, even Vivian Maier wasn't Vivian Maier until after she died! I can't say for sure that she didn't beat herself up for not creating images like Bresson, but she certainly wasn't in it for the fame or money. Do you want fame and money?
Yeah, if you don't truly love what you're doing, then you won't get to a level where you're producing high-class imagery for Nike, or selling a photo of a potato for one million Euros. Some might say: "Hey Mike, I shoot commercial imagery for giant companies and get paid in speedboats and chocolate fountains, but I'm dead inside. How do you account for that?". Well, let's call this guy Pete,to stick with our theme of P: "well, Pete, you need to ask yourself why you started in this business in the first place. I'm sure that you weren't dead inside this whole time, were you? Of course you weren't. At some stage, photography lost it's magic for you. And, while that's disappointing, it's not the end of the world. You just need to move on to the next phase of your life." As for you, the reader, you need to ask yourself why you really want to get better. Because if you just want to be noticed, then your imagery will reflect these vapid notions.
It can be demoralizing when you notice some of your peers pull ahead of you in respect of the quality of images that they produce. We can sometimes make excuses, maybe even feel bitter or envious. But these are useless tendencies. Left alone and without consideration, these feelings will fester into a toxic attitude towards our fellow creatives. I see the results of this all the time on the web; a photographer will be featured or have an image of theirs featured on a popular site, like Fstoppers, and, while the reactions are mostly positive, every now and then, there are one or two snide remarks — often from someone with nothing at all to show for themselves. To those people, I would say: do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? This can be the same for us writers. Thankfully, though, we're immune to most of it due to our thick, weathered hides.
We would really appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on improvement in the comments below. It doesn't have to start with a P, but extra credit if it does!