Blogging to become a better photographer

The recipe
Before starting to write this first post, I had a quick look at first posts from a random selection of blogs. Most of them go by the following recipe: The author describes who (s)he is, what (s)he does and what’s going to be so unique about their blog, often topped off with a nice quote and a promise of much more to come.

I feel a bit like this fledgling Winter Wren: For the first time exploring a new world.

Nothing new under the sun
Within this setup, most authors try to come up with an original, unique first post, aspiring to bring in many readers. Unfortunately, with well over 150 million public blogs scattered over the world wide web (as tracked by http://www.blogpulse.com), that’s going to be tough these days. So rather than trying to come up with some unique concept for the first post, I decided to simply start doing what I plan on doing in most of my posts: Share my work and thoughts on photography and related topics. I’m sure that I’ll be learning along the way, and hopefully I’ll also teach some readers a thing or two.

Learning by teaching
Whether it’s a new macro-photography technique you learned or image sensor technology you read about, the best way to find out if you really understood something properly is by trying to explain it to others. If you find yourself struggling to explain how to do time lapse photography to your photo buddy, you should probably dive into the the subject matter again.
This concept struck me as I started discussing pictures and techniques with a friend (Julien Martin). In trying to criticize pictures we selected to discuss via email, I sometimes found myself doubting as to whether my comments made sense: our discussions really stimulated me to read up and learn more about things I thought I already knew.

A good soundboard
This type of learning works best when the person you’re interacting with knows at least as much about the subject as you do, as is the case with my friend. It’s easy to impress people that have much less or no knowledge on the matter. Soon enough you will find yourself ‘cheating’ by being sloppy with facts, thinking “even if it’s not entirely correct, he wouldn’t know anyway”. Having a knowledgeable soundboard keeps you on your toes.

Improving the old…
Although sites like Flickr offer great photo sharing opportunities, reading the same comment under each picture (“great shot!”) makes me think it doesn’t help the photographer much in getting better. Critical, and more importantly, constructive feedback, can be very valuable, as long as the receiver is open to it and willing to learn. Or, as the Greek philosopher Epictetus put it: “It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.”

…and learning the new
Beyond stimulating you to become more knowledgeable about topics you may have thought you already knew, a ‘photo buddy’ can offer his/her own, unique point of view and suggest techniques you might never even have heard of. So not only will you improve your skills and knowledge on certain subjects/techniques, you also learn things that are completely new to you.
Starting a blog, that might (hopefully) get many readers, of which some quite critical and knowledgeable, ups the ante even more. Although I’m not afraid to learn from others, I also don’t want to write an instructional post on techniques that I haven’t properly mastered,
or explain how a lens works if I don’t actually understand the physics. As such, although challenging and somewhat frightening, I thought this would be a great way to force myself to get the most out of my photography, while at the same time hopefully offer readers food for thought and improvement as well.

More to come(?)
As for conforming to a traditional first post: I used a quote already, but didn’t tell you much about who I am or what I do (other than my favourite pastime) and I’m not planning to bore you with that very much either. To wrap up a traditional first blog post I should tell you that you can expect much more exciting stuff coming soon… Well, I will promise you at least one more post ;). In the mean time, feel free to check out the few pages that I have started to prepare and when you are done with that, go find yourself a good soundboard and start learning.

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4 thoughts on “Blogging to become a better photographer

    • Thanks Karen. I’m pretty new to this (you’re actually the first to comment!), but knowing that it’s being read inspires me to finish a few other posts I’ve been working on. More to come soon.

  1. I share your philosophy about the value of a good sounding-board and am fortunate to have found a few who share what they really think and, like us, are both willing and eager to learn more. As the Tsahik (?) said, in Avatar, “It is hard to fill a cup that is already full.” I am looking forward to more of your work!

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