Question #41: About Developing Your Photographic Eye

Q: "Newbie here.... What's the best way to develop your photographic eye? I know experience is important, but any other key ideas?" Tony Burtt

A: "Good question Tony, and one that I get asked often. A big component of my photo workshops is about learning to see photographically. Practice, practice, practice. Exercising those 'visual pushups' as often as possible is key to growing as a photographer. 

  • Shoot as often as possible. What to shoot? I always encourage people to shoot what they love to get the motivation to go out more often. Whether it's classic cars, horses or flowers, you will always get more enjoyment photographing things that you are most passionate about, you will shoot more and get better in the process. 
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Why? It's very important to try new things too. If you love photographing flowers, I would encourage you to try your photographic eye at something completely different. You will learn a lot in the process and you may surprise yourself by discovering and enjoying something new. Trying your eye at different genres will also make you a well rounded photographer, better prepared in any situation.
  • Slow down! Why? The digital age tends to make photographers a bit lazy. It is definitely an advantage to accelerate the learning curve and give immediate gratification. On the other hand, the unlimited shutter click possibilities can be a crutch. Many photographer take the 'spray and pray' approach instead of slowing down to make decisions before pressing the shutter release. I encourage my students to practice setting some limitation on some photo walks. One camera, one prime lens and a limited number of frames (let's say 36 exposures). Every time photographers slow down and make decisions in camera without relying so much on post processing tools, they always have more keepers at the end of the day. Try it!
  • Seek inspiration online. But don't spend all your time on the Internet. Going out with your camera will still be much more valuable that drooling over the amazing images featured on 500px.
  • Go on photo walks with like-minded people. It's fun and a great way to learn a lot from each other. No photo walk group in your area? Start your own!
  • Give yourself some themes or challenges to work on when you go out with your camera. Work on a shot list. Try new techniques. Limit yourself to a prime lens or the camera on your phone.
  • Attend a photo workshop! :)

I hope this helps and that the community has more tips to share in the comment section below." Valerie

©Valerie Jardin   Flowers are not 'my thing' but I like to see the world through my lens and I shoot pretty much anything that catches my eye. Those daily 'visual push-ups' add up to develop your vision and make you a better photographer!

©Valerie Jardin  

Flowers are not 'my thing' but I like to see the world through my lens and I shoot pretty much anything that catches my eye. Those daily 'visual push-ups' add up to develop your vision and make you a better photographer!

If you received this blog post via email, click on the title to view the actual published post. If you found it useful, please leave a comment below and share your experience with the community. If you have a question, feel free to send it to Valerie for an upcoming Q&A blog post. This blog cannot exist without your questions!