You may not have to spend too much to get better at your hobby.
Photography is an expensive hobby. Aside from equipment expenses which you may be tempted to do after a new super duper camera or lens enters the market, you might also consider learning through a workshop or a course. But these things cost money, and there’s so much to learn.
If you are like many of photography hobbyists who would like to learn photography techniques but also need to pay bills and eat, there is a way you can take the learning opportunities available for free, and embark on a planned, effective learning path.
But how do you begin? And what sort of habits should you practice to improve your photography systematically?
The answer might be in applying a systematic, strategic plan that involves something as simple as directing your brain to start learning.
I told myself if I drove past this salt farm and the light was right, I would stop to photograph it. And I did.
Heidi Grant Halvorson, author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, wrote recently in Edutopia about a strategy that you can apply to your photography and improve skills.
Halverson writes that most of us have a problem with transitioning from an idea, for example “I want to learn how to use a slow shutter to show motion” to action, which is actually doing it.
The author has written about a productive strategy called “if-then planning.” This strategy is designed to get you acting on a goal using the natural inclination of your brain.
The if-then planning goes like this.
First, you decide what you’re going to do, in advance, and try to name the action as specifically as you can. For example, say your goal is “Learn how to use a slow shutter to show motion in an image.” You can break down the goal into actions, for example:
• Use shutter speed priority on my camera to find out the shutter speeds that will keep walking people sharp.
• Use panning technique with slow shutter speed (learned in the practice session above) to create images.
Then, you schedule when you’re going to do these things, in advance. For example, you can schedule the shutter speed practice this way: “If I finish work on Tuesday or Wednesday and it’s already almost sunset, I will find a street where there are pedestrians and practice using shutter speed priority to photograph people walking.”
The way the strategy works is, if you set the conditions for the action, your brain will automatically push you to act upon it when the conditions you set are right. That means if you leave work just before sunset on Tuesday and the weather is right, you will be more likely to go to a street corner and practice making photos of people walking in shutter speed priority mode.
This is a tried-and-true strategy that actually has a pretty high success rate. Instead of wondering if you should go shoot on any given day, the if-then planning will push you to actually go ahead and do it.
And that decisive action could spell the difference between intention and actual results.
If you want to journey with me as I rekindle my love for all kinds of photography in 2012, and learn lots of things along the way, head on over to our Imagine That Photography Tribe Facebook page (and like us!), where you can participate in project modules, get some feedback, talk photography, and have your photography featured in a monthly roundup!
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