On Self improvement

Briar

All-Pro
Location
Scotland
Your opening post kind of points to the problem of studying popular photographers from the past. That is you run the risk of just copying their style rather than finding your own style.

Rather than focussing your study on other people’s work, give serious study to your own. See what works for you and try to develop it further. Developing that vision will make you a photographer that is truer to yourself.

I’d rather see that photographer rather than someone’s shots that put me in mind of ... insert name of photographer master of choice here!
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Your opening post kind of points to the problem of studying popular photographers from the past. That is you run the risk of just copying their style rather than finding your own style.
This was my rationale for a long time, to avoid careful study of the masters.

But I have since realized that even if you know the photos down to the pixel you can't replicate them because the situations are different.

And the point is to study your masters, then overcome them, "kill your masters" as some say. Become better.

It has given me some motivation and hope to see a great HCB landscape and see how I have employed similar things in some older shots of mine.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
I think part of the problem is that the vast majority of the photographers we all look up to the most are from the 20th century, and it's very hard (and a little bit ridiculous) to try and replicate what is, most of the time, a bygone world. I've yet to see what a truly modern "style" looks like. We are all looking to develop a style of our own, yet informing ourselves from a nonexistent fantasy.
 
Some of you should do an exhibition.

Exhibit your photos, speak with anyone and everyone who comes to have a look at your work. Or pretend you don't know who the photographer is and elicit an honest response from people.

Yes, studying books and learning from other photographers are important things you can do in your learning journey. But don't forget to exhibit too.

There are plenty of places where you can do an exhibition for zero to very little cost (other than the cost of printing your photos*).

Go check out your local library. I know my local has space on the walls downstairs and actual exhibition space upstairs where they've been happy to host artwork from local artists. They run a schedule and are usually booked a year ahead. Even if your local library has never hosted an art exhibition before, go ask them, they may think it's a brilliant idea and insipre them to start doing it, starting with your photo exhibition.

You might also want to consider your local cafes or restaurants. I kinda live in a beautiful touristy area. Some of the local cafes here exhibit or display artwork from local artists. It adds to a a local vibe. And the artwork is usually for sale.

Your local community centre - similar circs as your local library.

Your local govt offices - I've seen artwork in the lobby space where there's high traffic.

Learn from feedback or just learn from the experience of holding your own exhibition. Work towards your next exhibition with photography goals in mind. It's your journey.

(*Honestly, you don't have to spend a ton of money on the most expensive printing methods for the best quality prints. Go make some cheap but still decent $5 prints from Walmart. It's not for MOMA or the Louvre).
 
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PS. A couple of years ago I made some enquiries to exhibit at my local library's exhibition space. The librarians I spoke with loved my photos and booked me in for a 6 week exhibition. They then forwarded my application to head office for the rubber stamp .... but one of the managerial meatheads turned my application down because she said my photos would scare the children.

 

re-note

All-Pro
Location
Bremen - Germany
Real Name
Rolf
Have you ever tried to get input from other media than photography.
There are cinema films that can be helpful.
Another source of inspiration may be poetry(no need to be afraid of it, there is an abundant variety for all tastes)
Music or sounds may lead to unexpected results, in case you don´t take it literally.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Some of you should do an exhibition.
Also many recommend very much on making books.

Your inner editor activates the critical eye when it comes to filling a limited number of blank pages -- as opposed to limitless social media posts. Supposedly a book project will in a natural way direct your themes, visual style towards consistency.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
I think part of the problem is that the vast majority of the photographers we all look up to the most are from the 20th century, and it's very hard (and a little bit ridiculous) to try and replicate what is, most of the time, a bygone world. I've yet to see what a truly modern "style" looks like. We are all looking to develop a style of our own, yet informing ourselves from a nonexistent fantasy.
On the other hand this will help "not copying" the masters of old. It might be downright impossible. :)
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
Have you ever tried to get input from other media than photography.
There are cinema films that can be helpful.
Do you mean input as in "inspiration" or input as in "compositional, lighting advice".

Cinema and some TV serves nicely in both departments. :)

Another source of inspiration may be poetry(no need to be afraid of it, there is an abundant variety for all tastes)
There are some nongentrified neighborhoods in Helsinki that bring some dirty limericks to mind... 🤔

Music or sounds may lead to unexpected results, in case you don´t take it literally.
Agreed, music that resonates with me is a superb thing. Ted Vieira for one advices to try listening to your favorite tunes while photographing, see if the mood of the music helps to capture the mood of the scene on film (if they match).
 

doobs

Regular
Location
Reston, VA
Real Name
Chris
So I finished up "Seeing Through Photographs" presented by the NY MOMA last weekend.

It was very thought provoking, as it touched on a number of current hot button issues.

I cannot honestly say whether that was good or bad, but it did seem to deflect from the task at hand at times.

With all that, I would recommend it to anyway looking to broaden their photographic horizons, if for nothing else, than the included reading materials, which are universally excellent.
 

mumu

Regular
Between nice cameras and gear lust and everything I stopped to think why I just don't get the next dream camera of mine: I don't think I deserve it.

A woman I met on a photography course shot very good street photography. The compositions were clean, there were interesting people in them, overall some of the shots had HCB-esque style to them. She told the secret was to study hard. Study the photographs, study the masters, study your personal heroes.

While on the streets, I also recognize what my weaknesses are but I lack real motivation in trying to overcome them.

I think if I should put myself on a strict training regimen to get myself towards the photographic ideals that I value. Some tough love on myself, like in those 80s kung fu movies? "Go walk that street up and down and don't come back until you got something!"

Something that could be measured would perhaps help? "Spend 60 minutes in a library studying photo books at least 4 evenings a week."

Would taking notes help with focusing? But will it actually help with progressing towards goals?
(I just joined this forum so apologies for dredging up an old thread.)

At the urging of my teenage son I started an Instagram account last year about this time. I've found it to be a great source of inspiration, motivation, and enjoyment. The first month or two, I would just trawl through my Lightroom catalogue and post one or two (or 3 or 4 during the initial spurt) photos per day. I realized that I would, at some point, run out of photos I thought were good enough to post publicly. Like you, I'm also into street photography but it was something I only did while travelling, and we all know what travel was like in 2020. So, to feed my habit of posting a photo per day, I had to force myself to start shooting street locally. I was never interested in doing it before because I've seen the same culture, buildings, markets, and other sights for DECADES. Local stuff did not get my creative juices flowing. Even more importantly, as someone who is an introvert and very confrontationally challenged, I couldn't take advantage of my "hey, I'm just a tourist" status to photograph people with impunity. But after a few months of getting likes from people on Instagram, I wanted to keep up with it so I made the effort to head out every other weekend to make photos for my feed.

Instagram wasn't just useful for the motivation. I learned from it, too. I followed several street photographers that were recommended on various photo sites and I found inspiration in their work. By studying their photos and seeing dozens of great, new street photos in my feed every day, I learned to hunt for light, shadows, reflections, colours, repeating patterns and mirrored elements. The daily exposure to these elements in my Instagram feed helped me to find those things in my own city where before I saw no photo opportunities.

I also started watching Youtube videos. The POV street photography videos weren't usually very helpful. In fact, after doing street somewhat religiously for a year now, I'd have to say that most of the street POV Youtubers are actually not particularly good at it. The only one that stands out is The Real Sir Robin (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc-9JMcDZSh6R4OXuWX6Gag) simply because it is eye opening to see how blatantly obvious he is about photographing people and they don't seem to care. His photos are also quite good, especially when he shoots with the Xpan. But two Youtubers I'd really recommend are Nick Turpin (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7KQzmf51UIB0sUyAq8gW6g) and Olaf Photo (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtfoRWmCw_Rny7_JFnkTktg) because they explain how they work a scene and what thoughts go through their heads while shooting.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the likes I'd get from my photos were very addictive. It helped to keep me motivated so, despite the shallow nature of trying to earn likes, they had a very positive effective in forcing me to practice my photography on a regular basis. But I was clear-eyed enough to know that my favourite photos didn't always get as many likes as some of my less favourite ones, and that I shouldn't change my style to follow the likes. In the end, the photos are for myself. Also, the longer I was on Instagram, the more I began to recognize over-used street photography templates (juxtaposition of young, attractive model on billboard and old woman walking in front of it; shadows on the ground but the image is flipped over so it looks like they're standing up; person blowing smoke; silhouettes of people walking between shadows). Yes, I indulged in those tropes but I don't see it as a bad thing. I learned from them and I can see how over-used they are and will strive for something beyond them.

Oh, another thing: I did not tell my friends about my Instagram account. I only wanted strangers, preferably street photographers or people who enjoyed looking at street photography, to follow me. Getting a bunch of likes from friends who will give a like for anything you do isn't helpful in terms of using Instagram likes to encourage your photography.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Location
Finland
(I just joined this forum so apologies for dredging up an old thread.)
Welcome aboard. No apologies necessary. :D
At the urging of my teenage son I started an Instagram account last year about this time. I've found it to be a great source of inspiration, motivation, and enjoyment.
Instagram is a great place to be I'm sure, but I have always been very critical of Facebook and now IG too now that FB bought it some years back. As such I'm biased against and always see the negative opinion pieces and articles about how "FB rots your brain" and "IG rots your eyes" and whatever....

Instagram wasn't just useful for the motivation. I learned from it, too. I followed several street photographers that were recommended on various photo sites and I found inspiration in their work. By studying their photos and seeing dozens of great, new street photos in my feed every day, I learned to hunt for light, shadows, reflections, colours, repeating patterns and mirrored elements
...but you do make a compelling case for IG.

I also started watching Youtube videos. The POV street photography videos weren't usually very helpful. In fact, after doing street somewhat religiously for a year now, I'd have to say that most of the street POV Youtubers are actually not particularly good at it.
I usually enjoy street photography youtube, especially those that contain those "behind the scenes" materials. The photog doesn't have to be particularly skillful, there's plenty of inspiration to be absorbed from every video.

I'm not ashamed to admit that the likes I'd get from my photos were very addictive. It helped to keep me motivated so, despite the shallow nature of trying to earn likes

Yeah who doesn't like likes. I enjoy bathing in likes here on this forum but it's not a healthy thing to obsess over. We both have it on a healthy basis, we don't chase the likes or let them alter our content. Perhaps my problem with IG is that I wouldn't want to keep the company of like-chasers. Purely a made up problem. :)

Did Instagram go through with what they planned, hide the likes from showing? If so that would be a great thing.

Oh, another thing: I did not tell my friends about my Instagram account. I only wanted strangers, preferably street photographers or people who enjoyed looking at street photography, to follow me.
This seems to be a very wise approach!
 

wee-pics

Hall of Famer
Location
Germany
Real Name
Walter
Do you mean input as in "inspiration" or input as in "compositional, lighting advice".

Cinema and some TV serves nicely in both departments. :)


There are some nongentrified neighborhoods in Helsinki that bring some dirty limericks to mind... 🤔


Agreed, music that resonates with me is a superb thing. Ted Vieira for one advices to try listening to your favorite tunes while photographing, see if the mood of the music helps to capture the mood of the scene on film (if they match).
For me the old masters are still a great field of inspiration. Reading them and looking at their photos does not mean copying them, but finding out what exactly it is in a photo that "puts the spell on you". But I agree with Rolf (re-note) that you need inspiration from all kinds of fields. And just to make it clear what the place of inspiration is I'd lie to quote Einstein. When asked what genius is to him his answer was short and to the point: 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
'm also into street photography but it was something I only did while travelling, and we all know what travel was like in 2020. So, to feed my habit of posting a photo per day, I had to force myself to start shooting street locally. I was never interested in doing it before because I've seen the same culture, buildings, markets, and other sights for DECADES. Local stuff did not get my creative juices flowing. Even more importantly, as someone who is an introvert and very confrontationally challenged, I couldn't take advantage of my "hey, I'm just a tourist" status to photograph people with impunity.
I did a lot of the same earlier this year. The typical touristy spots in my little town were more interesting this year, even if the documentary-style shots that I've gotten don't age well and I don't want to go back and look at them once this is all over... at least I got out and shot. It was therapeutic.
 

agentlossing

All-Pro
Location
S. Oregon Coast (the Northernmost-Cal of them All)
Real Name
Andrew Lossing
For me the old masters are still a great field of inspiration. Reading them and looking at their photos does not mean copying them, but finding out what exactly it is in a photo that "puts the spell on you". But I agree with Rolf (re-note) that you need inspiration from all kinds of fields. And just to make it clear what the place of inspiration is I'd lie to quote Einstein. When asked what genius is to him his answer was short and to the point: 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration.
Agreed, and my older post maybe needs to be clarified: I think there's plenty of inspiration to be gotten from older photographers. I just see a lot of (especially street) photographers trying so hard to mimic old things that just don't happen the same way anymore. You can still find people in the street but you typically won't find them cutting hair, picnicking or throwing stones at each other like Cartier-Bresson did.

I just got Walker Evans' American Photographs, and it's a fantastic book to look through and appreciate his compositions and storytelling. I hope to learn from it.
 

mumu

Regular
Instagram is a great place to be I'm sure, but I have always been very critical of Facebook and now IG too now that FB bought it some years back. As such I'm biased against and always see the negative opinion pieces and articles about how "FB rots your brain" and "IG rots your eyes" and whatever....

I agree with you. If I had my way, there'd be something other than the widespread, integrated tentacles of FB/IG and all the other "free" services. But it's hard to deny the pros along with the more hidden but equally significant cons. Maybe one day there'll be an open source, heavily encrypted, widely distributed over shared/donated computer resources, social network as an analog to FB and similar services. In the meantime, I'm trying to use what's available judiciously and to my advantage.

I usually enjoy street photography youtube, especially those that contain those "behind the scenes" materials. The photog doesn't have to be particularly skillful, there's plenty of inspiration to be absorbed from every video.

Yeah, I accept your point. Also, as their skills/experience and results improve, they'll gravitate to the better photographers' videos...or not. It depends on how much they want to push themselves, as it does in any endeavour.

Yeah who doesn't like likes. I enjoy bathing in likes here on this forum but it's not a healthy thing to obsess over. We both have it on a healthy basis, we don't chase the likes or let them alter our content. Perhaps my problem with IG is that I wouldn't want to keep the company of like-chasers. Purely a made up problem. :)

Yes, use Instagram for what you want to get out of it. I know there are certain types of my photos that generate more likes than others (most of the frame filled with architecture or geometric shapes with a person or silhouette occupying a small portion) but that hasn't changed my preference for wanting to photograph people from closer distances. You can be true to your own interests and passions while still enjoying having an IG account. But I do understand if you're simply averse to some types of social media. I still haven't embraced Twitter despite having an account for many years, now.


Did Instagram go through with what they planned, hide the likes from showing? If so that would be a great thing.
Not really. I can see the total number of likes, as well as who liked, any one of my photos.

On the app, I can see who liked someone else's photos but it doesn't show a total count, although you could count them all if you wanted to (eg: scroll down a list of those who liked the photo) but that's seems a bit desperate.
On the web site, I can see a total count of who liked someone else's photos as well as a list.

I've only started using IG a year ago so I don't know if that's a change from before.
 

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