This post will be a little out of the ordinary. I will be attending a Summit Adventure Photography Workshop starting on Saturday and I wanted to get down a few thoughts on improving as a photographer.
How do you continually improve at your craft? Do you seek out industry professionals to learn from? Do you read industry articles and blog posts to stay informed of the latest trends? Do you get out and practice regularly? These are all questions I have at one time or another asked myself. Below is a list of the things that I try and do on a regular basis to stay inspired and seek out improvement.
This is perhaps one of the easiest things to do on a regular basis as information is always readily available. If you've read any of my reviews in the past, I am always scouring the internet for videos, PDF's, ebooks and the like. Between getting inspired, actually making pictures, sharing pictures that I've made, selecting images for portfolios, and editing images on a computer, I have a constant list of topics that I can be improving upon. I think David DuChemin is one of the most regular creators of content surrounding improving as a creative. I regularly read his blog and have several ebooks from his company Craft & Vision. Another great online resource that I utilize is CreativeLive. Co-founded by Chase Jarvis, they regularly air new content for free that is later available for purchase. I own several classes from CreativeLive and have been extremely satisfied with the quality of content.
PROFESSIONAL FEEDBACK AND CRITIQUE
In the past year I started seeking out critiques from several industry professionals whose work I know and admire. I first select two of my own images that I feel fit into their genre of photography, and then ask them to quickly review the images and answer five basic questions. This is something that I've tried to do on a monthly basis, and all told I have received responses from all but one photographer. Critique is something I benefit from and have greatly missed being outside of a photography classroom.
This next item could easily fit inside either of the two categories, but I felt deserved a section all to itself. At the beginning of this year I paid for an Eyeist review of my website. This gave me an audio recording from Amy Silverman, the Photo Editor for Outside Magazine, reviewing my website on an image by image basis with an overall look at my work. After answering a questionnaire and a couple of emails from Amy, I found my work wasn't communicating what I thought it was. These moments are great for improvement as I was forced to take a step back, evaluate my work, and decide what I wanted to accomplish.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I'm headed for Jackson Hole at the end of the week to a workshop with the Summit Series. I'm excited for a full week of shooting, critique, networking with photographers, editors and other professionals. I know I'll improve and come away with some great work. Having never attended a workshop of this caliber, I will of course be leaving my thoughts here on my blog in the future.
The last item I wanted to share would be this...blogging. I haven't had any feedback on posts, and I don't really know if anyone is listening on a regular basis, but that's not the point. The exercise of thinking through my processes, finding inspirational items to share, and ultimately shaping my thoughts into words, helps me to improve. It also helps that my website gains SEO (Search engine Optimization) value.
Hopefully this helped someone else in some way, if not, it definitely helped me.