I had noticed that unless there is some assignment or something important, my camera lies safely in its abode. I felt I’m not photographing enough in order to make myself a better photographer. Hence came the idea of undertaking a 365 Project.
In the beginning, I was daunted by the huge mountain of 365 Project. I thought to myself how long would I climb it successfully before I run out of oxygen. Each of the passing day meant fewer ideas for future shots. That’s when the climb began to feel stiffer. Slowly I could see the one’s who joined the project being motivated by me began to drop out one by one. There came a time when I was the only man climbing to the top. No, I didn’t think them to be my competition but on the contrary it was fun to have some people working on the same personal & collective goal.
The goal was distant but as they say, “to eat an elephant you need to just take an ant size bite”. Similarly, one must approach 365 Project one day at a time. No point in seeing it as a whole as that will definitely mean failure. I spread the word about my project all across my family & peers as that would mean further opportunities(and less nagging when I’m photographing as the food arrives at the hotel).
It has been a wonderful journey for 365 days & at the end I can only say, 365 Project not only made me a better photographer but also taught me a few other things. It taught me how to keep your feet grounded even if you achieve a higher position in life. Being humble is very important. No matter how big a photographer you are as there will be days when you just won’t be able to produce your magic. It was such days I use to get disappointed at first but later I accepted them as a part of project. These days of ordinary photographs keep you rooted & if you take them positively, they can fire you to continue doing better.
Secondly, 365 Project teaches you to be patient. Everyday you will be under pressure(see it as good pressure) to produce a different unique photograph for the day. As the clock clicks & you’re yet to photograph here you will begin to rush on things. And as you rush things, they get messier. Its time you stay calm & think about what & how to photograph. To be honest, I just had a single day in the year where I was under utmost bad pressure but still managed to produce a decent photograph. Over the time it got into me that 24 hours is a long time-span to get one photograph – a unique, well crafted, well seen photograph.
In a gist, 365 Project teaches you the qualities you need to lead life beautifully. The virtues of humility, patience, perseverance, endurance, practise, completing small chunks to accomplish large tasks/goals all help you to lead a better life. I highly recommend you to undertake the ’365 Project’. I’m continuing the project for the second successive year. Would love to have your company. Do drop your project links in comments so I can follow you.
My 365 Project
In order to become a better & a successful photographer one doesn’t solely requires sound technical knowledge about photography. There are myriad other factors which determine the growth & success of a photographer.
Will/Determination – Anything is impossible without a will. A person should have the will to photograph. One should have in mind that he wants to photograph come what may. Only if one has will for photography, one would adopt it, experiment with it & create photographs. This will/determination should be strong and must endure test of time. A temporary or fluctuating determination is of no use. If you do not feel driven from within to create photographs, do not do so. You may find some other thing that will appeal to you which you should search & work upon to become successful.
Patience – “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” – Thomas Jefferson. Patience is a great virtue. Its is very true, haste makes waste. In order to rise in photography, one needs patience at every sidewalk. One needs patience while setting up the tripod, one needs patience while setting up the lights, one needs patience while waiting for the perfect landscape light, one needs patience in order to capture the peak moment & I can go on. A good photograph takes time to manifest. Sure, you may get lucky at times but overall it takes a lot of patience. If you’re short tempered you need to take a calm approach to photography. At times, you might not get the shot you desired but if you’re patient you’ll eventually. Also if you’re shooting for a client & mid-shoot any of your equipment dies on you, you need to stay calm & think appropriate solutions to get the shoot done. Such situation require a calm & patient attitude. This one quality will help you a great deal not only in Photography(or any art) but also in life.
Hard Work – There is no substitute for hard work. Armed with will & patience, continue to work harder on your photography skills. Sweat it out. Perform to the best of your abilities & capabilities of your equipment. Leave no stone unturned. Then the results will speak for themselves. Trust me, there is no greater satisfaction than getting the desired results after all that hard work.
Positive attitude – Think it, get it. If you think positive & feel the goodwill, good things will happen to you. Positive attitude does not mean you go aggressive & rash. It means to keep a positive frame of mind as you go around photographing. Its often the fear of failure which limit oneself. This fear cannot be totally eliminated but with positive thoughts it can be tossed into backseat allowing you to perform better & get the desired results. So work on yourself to remain positive under any circumstances.
All the above qualities go hand in hand. Work upon to cultivate & build upon all of them in yourself, you’ll get better with whichever art you want to master.
Digital photography has been a boon to photographers since one can shoot to heart’s content since the cost is nil compared to film days. However this has also lead to a down-fall as most amateur photographers do not think twice & keep on spraying(on shooting spree) the shutter in hope to capture a good shot. However, if you put a few simple things into consideration before shooting, it will do a world of good to your photography. Here is a small check-list.
To become a better photographer, a photographer must be able to anticipate the moments. He/She must have a foresight which will allow him to prepare well in advance for the shot. A lot of time, photographer do have the foresight but are still not able to get the shot. The Reason? Improper camera settings.
Most photographers think with today’s high precision automated features in camera’s setting it up is not a big deal. The fuel to this belief is added further by camera manufacturer who tout their camera’s will do all the required stuff as the photographer concentrates on the moment. Sure, its true but to a very certain degree. Unless you switch onto the AUTO mode, you’ll need to think of certain setting beforehand to capture the future moment perfectly.
When I’m about to photograph in crunch situation where getting a shot is crucial, I tend to make note of some simple things in mind. I foresight the situation in which I will need to make a photograph & plan accordingly.
Watch the background. It is the background which will often make or break your image. No matter how good your subject is & how pleasant the light is but a cluttered background can ruin your entire photograph.
The key to a good background is to keep it simple. Often including too many things can give the background a cluttered look. Even if you shoot with a shallow depth-of-field, a cluttered background will still look busy. If you’re shooting outside, be on the lookout for streams of light which may be passing through tiny gaps in your background. These can be a nuisance. Instead try to get a clear single coloured background which would not compete with the subject. Often we see tree branches poking out of people’s head. Unless you want to portray your subject as a reindeer, its better you take time while framing to avoid this common mistake.
Most amateur photographers are tempted to include a flashy background which off-course looks good but directs the viewer eyes to the background than the point of interest in the photograph. You do not want this to happen. A good background is one which complements the subject & not one which competes with the subject.
There are many tips on how one can get a good background to shoot but that will demand an entire post. I’ll do it in future. For time-being, watch the background & see how your photographs improve radically.