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Yes, we agree - taking pictures is the quickest way to get to know your camera and put all the new techniques that you have read about into practice. However, that is not enough to become a truly great photographer and develop your skills even further.
There is much more to being a photographer than simply pressing the shutter release at everything that catches your eye. There’s always more research that can be done, preparations to be finalized, inspiration to be found, and ideas to be manifested.
Yet no one seems to talk about this side of photography that much. Most online beginner guides to photography tend to concentrate on different techniques, settings, gear, and other technical stuff. What about expanding your knowledge of different photography styles? What about the mental preparations that you do before you even take the camera in your hands? What about planning ahead and organizing the shot you want to take?
There is more to being a great photographer than simply taking pictures. There is plenty that needs to be done before and after taking a photograph, plenty that can be learned. So let’s dive into this side of photography - the side that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should.
Things to Do Before Taking Pictures
Just as with anything else creative in the arts industry, learning in photography never stops. There is never too much knowledge or inspiration that you can get, even if you are already very successful in this field. Instead of sitting around and being content, you should always be on a lookout for more. And here’s a few ways of you can do just that.
Do you know where you local photography gallery is? What is on display at the moment? What is coming there next? If you can’t answer any of these questions, you should definitely be stepping up your game.
Visits to galleries expose you to professional work and broaden your knowledge. If the exhibition is good, it can even give you new ideas for your next shoots, and inspiration to try out new and unexplored styles and techniques. Regularly visiting photography galleries also gives you a chance to have a nice day out. After all, being a photographer should be a hobby as well as a profession.
Scouting for Locations
If you're not out shooting, it doesn’t mean that you stop being a photographer. In fact, there is never a time that you are not a photographer. That is why you should always be on the lookout for new potential locations. It should become your second nature - always there, at the back of your mind, the potential for an amazing photograph that you could capture at a later time.
This doesn’t mean that you must have your camera on you at all times though. Don’t undervalue your phone camera or even a small point-and-shoot that fits into your pocket. It will be enough to take a quick snap of the place and keep it as a reference for later.
Painters are always taking pictures of things that they want to paint. A simple, quick snap with their phone is good enough to have as reference for when they will be in their studio ready to put the paint to the canvas.
Great photographers do the exact opposite of that - they doodle in their notebooks planning their next great photograph. Always trying to come up with the next million dollar picture, and then, waiting for the perfect time to execute the shot.
As discussed in Wired, wildlife photographer Alan McFadyen spent six years trying to take the perfect shot of kingfisher diving into water. He says that he took about 720,000 photos before he finally got the shot that he planned out six years ago. Sounds crazy, huh? We suppose it does. However, photography is a slow business and patience is one of the most important tools that you can have.
Things to Do After Taking Pictures
So you gathered up some ideas, planned your photo shoot, and ended up with some great photographs. Congratulations! But your work is not done yet - there’s still a ton of things to
do after you take a picture.
Not only do you have to fix up your RAW files and turn them into amazing pieces of art, but you also have to show them to the world. How else are you planning to make a living?
Unlike many people believe, photographers don’t spend most of their time shooting. In fact, the biggest and longest job always comes after the pictures have been taken.
Depending on your style and the kind of photography that you do, post-processing can take anything from ten minutes to a couple of hours per picture. There really isn’t a wrong or right way of doing it, as it’s all about expressing yourself and producing the work that you are proud to share with others. After all, your work represents you and your business. If it’s not top-notch, it’s not worth having.
Get a few starter tips on post-processing in Lightroom in the video above by Elias Sarantopoulos.
Sharing Your Work With the World
Uploading your work to such platforms as 500px, Flickr, and the PhotographyTalk galleries exposes your photography to thousands of people who would otherwise never see your pictures unless you were a published author of a photography book. So why not use the power of the internet?
After all, sharing your photography with others online is not only an excellent way to show off and advertise your business, but also get some creative criticism and advice from fellow photographers.
There is no better place to ask for feedback and tips on your work than a group of professional photographers, and there’s no better way to celebrate a great shot than by seeing people loving it and sharing it with others.
So What Makes a Great Photographer?
We hope that you see why photography is not only about shooting pictures. There is a lot more work that goes into capturing the perfect scene that will take your audience’s breath away. Photography is not about luck and pure talent. Photography is about planning, skills, and most importantly, hard work.