I recently read that there are over one billion photographs taken every day around the world.
Most of these will appear briefly on some social media platform, garner a few likes, then disappear into oblivion.
I often wonder,
How many of these photographs will be printed?
How many of them will even be kept digitally to be viewed again?
Not too many, I think.
So, what is the point of this type of photography?
I believe this type of photography has many reasons for existence but most of them do not relate to the art of making images for their own sake.
When we are making images for their own sake, we are engaging in the type of photography that produces enjoyment and fulfilment, the type that increases our powers of observation, supports our mental and physical health and inspires in us a sense of awe and wonder at what we can create with a camera.
Three years ago, I began to delve into this type of photography.
I took on the challenge of learning more about this craft, getting out regularly with my camera to practise what I was learning, studying the work of passionate photographers, following the adventures of those for whom photography is a way of life as well as a means of earning a living, and generally reaping the huge rewards of this exciting pursuit.
In the past year I have added to my enjoyment of photography by experimenting, by exploring new ways to become more creative in my image-making and by taking inspiration from those whose approach to photography resonates with me.
Here are the top ten things I will take from the past year:
3 photographers who inspired me, and why
I regularly watch YouTube videos from professional photographers, many of whom are award winners and whose channels have many thousands of followers.
Some of these channels are entertaining as well as giving useful photography tips for those learning or improving their photography.
Others concentrate on a particular niche and give more detailed presentations on specific topics.
From all the photographers that I follow on YouTube I have picked 3 whose channels I most enjoyed during the year.
All of them are understanding of the needs of the non-professional photographer, they are humble and grateful for the support they get from their viewers, and they try to give value in terms of their content.
Each of them willingly admits to making mistakes and to using mistakes, or days when things go wrong, as part of their own learning process.
Nigel Danson’s channel is a great mixture of photography tips (particularly on composition) fantastic woodland and landscape images and Lightroom tutorials on how to edit your own images. Nigel is a great lover of nature and he never fails to appreciate the beauty around him. He has a very engaging manner and a simple teaching style, great for beginners.
Kim Grant is a Scottish photographer whose channel, Visualising Scotland, blends photography with an appreciation of the Scottish landscape. Her connection to the natural world, her commitment to conservation and her love for Scotland are very evident from her photography work. Kim is inspirational in her approach, always encouraging her viewers to be unique in the practise of their craft and to photograph what they love.
You can visit Kim's website here
Thomas Heaton’s channel is focused on the adventure of photography. He brings us along on his van trips and hikes, all the while chatting about photography and making suggestions for his viewers. He has built a huge following, and deservedly so as his channel is entertaining as well as informative, and it is very inspiring just to watch how he captures his beautiful images.
I also highly recommend the channels of Henry Turner, James Popsys and Mads Peter Iversen and enjoy what each of them brings to my photography journey.
For a photographic flavour of Ireland, Darren J. Spoonley's channel gives great inspiration as he travels around the south and west coast with his camera.
Darren's latest vlog may be of interest too as he gives a mention to 5 Outdoor Photographers to watch out for in the coming year.
3 new approaches I have taken to my photography
I spent a lot of time during the early part of the year practising mindful photography and this has informed most of my photography since then.
I have slowed down, become more accepting of my own limits and more appreciative of my achievements.
Above all, I have become more observant, more in tune with my surroundings and more open to all the opportunities that present themselves to me.
Here are some of my posts on the topic:
At times when I have felt that my photography is becoming stale or when I feel that there is nothing that I want to photograph, I have shaken things up by experimenting with something new, by going to a new location or doing something completely different with my photography.
During the year this approach led me to experimenting with woodland photography, and discovering that I really enjoy it, and that in turn led me to trying ICM (intentional camera movement), something which was entirely different for me and which I intend to continue to develop. It is an enjoyable aspect of photography which has many avid followers and is something which can be practised on those dull days that are not entirely suitable for other types of photography.
I have begun to enjoy woodland photography although I realise that it is a difficult genre to master.
Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)
ICM involves a lot of experimentation but it is an interesting and unique way to express your creativity.
ICM photography is something I want to pursue further in the future.
Shoot the things I want to shoot.
The third important approach I have worked on this year is training myself to shoot the things that I enjoy shooting and not to become overly concerned about whether my photography appeals to others.
It can be easy to become deflated when you post an image that you are proud of and someone else tears it to shreds, so I decided to continue to improve for myself, not for likes from others.
3 new things I have learned that improve my photography
The importance of working on composition
This was undoubtedly my number one lesson of the year.
A good composition makes the difference between a good and a not-so-good image.
While an interesting subject is important in our images, subject alone will not translate our image into a compelling one if the image is not composed in such a way that it leads the viewer’s eye into and around the frame to properly see the subject.
There is much to be learned about composition, yet nothing improves our composition skills quite like getting out regularly with our camera and composing!
Shoot what you love, what gives you passion
This already came up in my new approaches for the year and it has also been one of the top learnings that I will take away from this year.
I have come to realise that if I shoot what I love and take pride in those images, I have a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfilment from my photography, and for me, that’s what it’s all about.
The value of your local environment
Since this past year was another in which travel opportunities were somewhat limited, I concentrated on discovering what my own local area could offer in terms of photographic opportunities and I soon discovered that there is a wealth of potential for image-making right on my doorstep.
In this post I outlined why I believe that your local area could in fact become your dream photography location.
One big takeaway from the past year
Be yourself - your photography will benefit.
There is a saying displayed on the wall in my local coffee shop which says,
Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken.
This applies in photography as well as generally in life.
There are many role models in photography – people whose philosophy and approach to photography we admire, in addition to being drawn to their images.
Yet it is still important to be ourselves, to find subjects that we are drawn to and to make our images in ways that are pleasing to us.
The best images will develop out of a passion for what we do rather than trying to model ourselves on someone else.
Each one of us is unique so it follows that our images will be uniquely ours.
Embrace that fact and shoot the things you love.
Bring a passion for what you shoot into your photography.
Don’t compare your images with those of someone else and consider yours to be inferior.
Show your images with pride.
Love your images and you will love your photography, and you will be rewarded in terms of satisfaction in your achievements and a sense of joy every time you go out with your camera.
Thank you for reading my posts. I hope you have found them useful.
If you would like to begin your own photography journey, I hope you will find some tips here to get you started.
Please keep reading and here’s to another year of enjoyable photography!