We all have reasons to get out of practicing, but it’s never a good idea to stop altogether. Once you stop shooting regularly, even your basic skills can start to atrophy. And while shooting every day can sound like a daunting task, people have asked me why it’s important to do this as a photographer. It’s important because it helps keep your fundamentals grounded. It also serves to keep your eyes active and always looking for new inspiration. There’s so many reasons to shoot every day, but rather than bore you with a laundry list of words, here are 3 reasons to shoot photography every day:
1. Practice Makes Perfect
The first reason to shoot photography every day is because shooting more often will simply make you better! Whether you are starting out in the world of photography or you are an established professional, or even an active hobbyist, there are always things you can learn about your craft, whether it’s improving your vision, your composition, or even refining the controls you have over your gear. You really only can get there through lots and lots of practice. Someone once said that it takes 10,000 hours of practice before you can really consider yourself an expert in anything. Here I would say one caveat and that is to never think you are done learning – adopting that attitude will only blindside you downstream.
I was reading a book recently called “Beyond the Obvious” by Phil McKinney (great book by the way) that challenges people to think about concepts and questions, and then encourages people to look beyond the knee-jerk reactions and responses. This same mentality exists in the world of photography. We see a scene, a portrait, or something that catches our eye and our instinct is to capture that “something”.
McKinney illustrates his point in asking the reader to answer the question:
“What is half of 13?”
He then goes on to show that there are many responses to this. The canned answer is always 6.5, and that’s what came to my mind too. But in going “beyond the obvious”, he shows that if you think about it from the perspective of say, a deck of cards, and 13 cards in a suit. Since the ten, jack, queen and king all are values of 10, then really, half of thirteen in that scenario is 5.5, not 6.5. You could also say that half of thirteen is really “thir” with “teen” being the second half! By illustrating that you can divide either numerically or semantically, entirely different perspectives, thoughts, and answers can be right at the same time! Once I got on the mental plane of looking at things differently, my own result was that half of 13 could also be 1 or 3 – applying the semantic concept to the number…
That is such a great concept, and one I’ve always tried to help people understand here in many different ways. The “half of thirteen” way is probably one one the most succinct I’ve ever seen though. Let’s take that concept now and apply it to photography. Go get your camera! Right now…seriously! Go get your camera, and pick some random object in your room, office, or where ever you happen do be. I don’t care if it’s your SLR, P&S, or camera phone.
Now what? Take 13 pictures of that object. Make each one different! Change the angle, change the light, change the object itself. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do 13 different things. I can guarantee you that at least one of those photos will be something new, unique, and even compelling. Now, take the most compelling one, and post it here.
To get you started on the right mentality, if you’re not already, here’s my own set of thirteen:
The shots above come from the “Wreck of the Peter Iredale” – on the coast of Astoria, Oregon. Now, granted, the setting sun, and the unique nature of the composition made my 13 shots a little easier, but there’s now reason you can’t do the same. Take a speaker and shoot it from as many angles as you can. Run out of angles? Try a different tack and change the lighting! What happens if you pop an on-camera flash? Try throwing your hand up to act as a barn door of sorts. There’s no end to potential…it just takes thinking outside the box!
When taking and making pictures, composing your image in a way that is compelling encompasses many “rules of composition”, including things like filling the frame, the Rule of Thirds, and Golden K, among several others. With virtually any image though, all the rules simply can’t be applied though, so it’s up to you as the photographer to decide which ones are more or less effective in defining your images.
You can help yourself immensely by looking at the works of others to see what appeals to you. Try various styles to see which one or ones speak to your creative vision. Here’s a perfect example of an image where both the Rule of Thirds and Filling the Frame cannot be applied:
The grind in Lightroom was hard to see, so I added emphasis to the Rule of Thirds lines to help illustrate that it’s not really adhering to that, nor am I even filling the frame. So, let’s take a look at both options. First up, the Rule of Thirds:
What’s nice about the Rule of Thirds here is that you are immediately brought into her face, but we still don’t have a lot of detail. The composition is also a bit cleaned up (notice the plastic cup is now effectively cropped out). This could be a usable image to show the customer, but let’s take a look when we fill the frame:
When cropping down to this level, we get a nice full view of the person, there’s no distracting objects and really no other place to look. We know what the subject is, we know where to look, and you can’t help but smile at the result.
Is one more effective than the other? Maybe…but that’s where personal preference comes into play. Different photographers will have different takes on how to crop and apply post production here. Which one do you prefer? Take a look at each after post production without the Lightroom sidebars and see which you like better.
Now it’s your turn – which composition works better for you, Rule of Thirds or Fill the Frame?