The notion that you need to have 'natural talent' to excel at photography is a myth. The truth is that anyone can learn to create photographs, and do it well. All that is required is the right information (presented in the right way), practice and a passion for photography.
Becoming a proficient photographer is a possibility for anybody who is willing to study intensively, and practise by taking a lot of photos. When you look at an amazing photograph, you are looking at the end product of a process measured in years. The countless hours of practice that have gone into making an image, the mastery of technique, the study of art, and the fluency in visual language – none of these are visible or apparent to us when we look at a great photograph.
When a master photographer is creating an image, he or she is not demonstrating some unusual or special gifts. What they are showing is that they are able to extract more information from the environment, compose the image, and read the light more efficiently than the rest of us. In turn, all of these things allow him or her to make an exceptional photograph.
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. "-- Calvin Coolidge
A master photographer's advantage has been gathered from experience, from countless hours of taking images, studying them and perfecting techniques. It is their regular practice that has given them this expertise, not talent.
The art of photography can be divided into two main categories: Craft and Artistry - and there is nothing magical about either of them. They are simply skill sets that anyone can learn. In other words, to become a great photographer is a long process of focused practice and it doesn't happen overnight.
Most importantly, you need to figure out what kind of practice you will actually need for improvement of your image-making process to ensure constant and continuous progress of your ability level. Studying and understanding who you are is the first step in your journey. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will enable you to choose the right activities and utilise the available resources.
In developing talent you should begin with the fundamentals of photography. Work on your techniques of capturing light and shadow. If you want to move forward quickly, study your own images. Ask yourself, "What areas of my photography have I excelled in? Where do I need improvement?" If you have difficulties answering those questions, seek feedback from people who have a genuine interest in helping you. Constructive feedback is very important. It allows you to fine tune your skills and focus on areas that need improvement. Analyse all the technical difficulties and the reasons why some of your pictures are successful and some are not.
Through practice, find out what works best for you and which activities are especially productive. Perhaps attending a workshop is the best way for you to learn new skills, or finding a mentor who will not only help you but also motivate you. For some, reading a book or magazine will be enough. Regardless of what you do, make sure that you implement new information into your image-making practice.
To truly learn you must always attempt new challenges and, when those have been mastered, move on to new challenges. You must expand your horizons in order to stretch your creativity and grow your abilities. Try techniques that you have never used before. Practise, try new solutions, make mistakes and learn from them. You need to be open-minded and flexible.
Remember, your images are only a reflection of how advanced your technical skills are, in combination with your powers of observation at a particular moment in time. If you want to get better at photography the only thing stopping you is you. So focus on your skills, establish a system of self-improvement and you will be on the path toward becoming a great photographer.
5 Tips to Accelerate the Development of Your Photographic Talent:
- Practise – Improvement is directly proportional to time spent with your camera.
- Study your own images – Masterpieces are few and far between, but there is a lesson to be learned in almost every image.
- Seek feedback - It will speed up the learning process.
- Believe in your own abilities – Talent can be developed.
- Never give up – If you stick at it, you will improve.