Monday, 16 July 2012

Learning to Take Better Photos

I am not a photographer. I have grown up next to photography: one of the extra-vivid childhood memories is me crouching over the table in the darkened kitchen, watching my dad place a sheet of white paper into some liquid and say: "now, let's see what will appear!" It was some random lady dancing or practising in a dark gym leotard - and I felt a little pang of disappointment that it wasn't someone I knew. (Like me, for example.) But in present day, flipping through the print stacks stored in those black paper envelopes, I can still recognize that picture - or at least the series it came from. As an adult, I have also had the occasional joy to work alongside with photographers and I've found myself able to temporarily pick up the main concepts and terminology quite well.

Observing other people work, has made it abundantly clear in my mind - I am not a photographer and I do not aspire to be one. What I like to do, however, is to point, shoot and ogle (preferably at subjects that won't run away). In summer days like these, I like to incorporate some crawling-in-the-grass-trying-to -catch-an-image into my waking routine. (Oftentimes there is also some coffee waiting under a bush - that is, if I don't spill it.)
Yesterday (or yesterday-adjacent. Ish.), after I had discovered rgbstock, I got so bold that I made myself an account there and uploaded a bunch of my recent experimenting there. Rgbstock has this system where they check the photos first and then publish the ones they're happy with. They seem to have a somewhat standardized quality-checklist to go with the process because for the images they don't pick, they always provide the information why (but without getting into too many details). This is brilliant! I mean, if an image wasn't picked because they already host the same subject in abundance, there isn't much to do about it - but if they give pointers about lighting, cropping, background noise and such, this provides me a wonderful learning opportunity!

For example: this pic didn't make it because it was too dark.

This one had too much stuff going on in the background.

With this one they suggested reconsidering the frame/ cropping.

But the wonderful part? They actually did publish some of my images! Like, a whole six of them! Considering my doesn't-run-off-or-move-too-much subject choice (read: flowers), this is a lot more than I anticipated. In any case, all this gives me a lot of courage and motivation to go on with the experimenting, and occasionally trying to hang out the results for others to see.

Oh, almost forgot. There is also another skill that this process would (unintentionally) improve. In my line of work I often have to search and pick images. Sometimes I find myself in the situation where I need to decide if the image has good enough quality to use or not - and I've found my skill noticeably lacking in this department. In other words - having other people assess my stuff and then trying to apply their critique on my future images, I'm developing a keen eye on multiple fronts. Win-win :)

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