Hello everyone! Today I thought we could talk about something that helped my improve tremendously as a photographer (though I still have tons to learn) and that can help you improve too. Taking a photography class.
If you read one of my earlier posts, “Adventures you can Take with your Camera in your Area” then you’ve see that I’ve suggested this before. I used to think that I could learn everything I needed to know from a book. While photography books are extremely helpful and I recommend that any beginner pick one up, however, a book can only teach you so much.
Photography classes put into action what a book can’t.
I have to admit… I was extremely nervous to take a photography class. I had hardly taken pictures of people, and I felt a little uncomfortable walking out in public with a camera slung around my neck. That’s exactly what the class of my choice forced me to do.
I also had doubts about the ones who would be with me in the class… Honestly, I assumed that I wouldn’t have a good time because someone might be better than me. Lose that mentality if you feel the same way. It does not matter who’s better or who’s worse. What matters is that you’re there to learn. Sure some in my class were older and much more experienced, but I had a great time!
Remember: Every instructor is different. If you take a class and you feel beaten up by the end of the day, then I am sorry. That is not how it should be.
Here’s some things that I learned from taking just one class:
How to use and adjust to light that’s available
The class I went to took place throughout one whole day, half of it walking around downtown Memphis and the other half in class room learning how to “master” lightroom and photoshop.
Because it was a bright, sunny day in Memphis I was fully prepared to use a low ISO and small aperture. To my dismay it turns out I actually had to work! My instructor gave us a workout by taking us in and out of bright and dark areas. At first I would forget to change my camera settings and end up missing a great shot, but after a while, I learned how to quickly switch between settings.
Within one day I managed to learn how to use my camera better than I had in the five months after I bought it.
How to use quick thinking to capture the perfect shot
One place that we visited was a Cross Fit gym. The owner was pleasant enough to allow a bunch of photographers to come in and watch as his team competed in high intensity training (HIT).
With so many people moving around so quickly in a crowded space, it was hard at first to grab a decent shot. I had to learn to move quickly (without being in the way) so that I would be in the right place at the right time.
You can’t depend on standing in place and using a zoom lens. You have to move around and put yourself in place to catch something truly amazing!
How to be comfortable taking photographs where ever I go
Like I mentioned above, I felt uncomfortable walking around with my camera, taking pictures of everything in site. People walking by would give us weird looks that made me embarrassed. As the day went on, however, I noticed that they weren’t mocking us, they were actually interested in what we were doing. In fact many were willing to model for us.
The “street photography” class also taught me how beneficial it is to communicate with those in your area. One stop we made during the class was in a very old and worn down burger joint. We all hustled in around 9 o’clock in the morning when the place was nearly empty. The owner gladly let us take pictures of his fascinating restaurant while he told us about its interesting history. (Turns out at least 11 movies had been filmed there!)
We were only able to go in there, take photos, and hear the owner’s incredible stories because our instructor had made a connection with the owner.
Be sure that wherever you go, talk to people, make connections, you’ll be glad you did!
How to find a different perspective
I used to have the mentality to go in, take the shot, and get out. My instructor and classmates helped me tremendously by showing me that by taking your time and finding another viewpoint, your photos with improve drastically!
Both the photos above are ones I would have never taken if I hadn’t been taught to look with a different perspective. I learned what it really means to observe what I’m photographing, to make it tell a story.
How to take full advantage of Light-room
After the morning session wrapped up, we all headed out to grab a bite before meeting back to have a lecture on light-room. Our instructor showed us how to organize our files, how to watermark our pictures, and how to use and be familiar with the tools on the program. I hadn’t had light-room for long at this point and I new nothing, so this was very beneficial to me.
Then he sent us to work! We all busted out our laptops and spent the rest of the class editing the photos we had taken that day. He was there the whole time ready to answer any questions we had (I had a lot haha).
By the end of the day I had learned much more than I thought I would. I became more comfortable with my camera, photographing people, and showing others my work. I even won a prize for my best photo!
Telling you all this, however, only teaches you so much. I whole-heartedly recommended that (if you haven’t already done so) you sign up for a photography class near you as soon as possible! Not only will your photography improve, your confidence in it will improve as well!
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Have a wonderful day!