Being a good photographer involves plenty of skills. Some of them are simple to learn, like your camera menu and settings. But the others involve lifelong learning and improving. In this video, Nigel Danson talks about three of these skills that every photographer should learn and develop with time. These are not only skills that, once learned, will serve you well forever. They also can be developed and expanded forever, and that’s what makes photography extra beautiful and rewarding.
Nigel talking about developing the skill of observation reminded me of an interview with Henri Cartier-Bresson I watched ages ago. An interviewer asked him “Can one learn to see?” The photographer responded: “Can one learn to have sex?” That’s a response that makes one chuckle, but it also makes you wonder.
But in all seriousness, Nigel believes that observation is a skill you can learn. I tend to agree. But of course, like any other skill, it takes time to master it and it’s a muscle you should train forever to stay in shape. Improving your observation skills will make it easier to make better compositions.
So, how do you learn to observe? Nigel gives you a few practical tips that should help. First of all, take your time when you get to the location. Just look around, take it in for a moment, and don’t rush in to start shooting.
Next, don’t just look at the scene and think how amazing it is. Instead, think about why it is amazing and which element of it would make an interesting photo.
It’s also important to look at textures, shapes, forms, and colors around you. Think about how you can combine them and make an interesting image out of them.
An important thing to remember is that a beautiful scene won’t necessarily make an awesome photo. But this is another thing you’ll learn and recognize as you improve your observation skills.
Finally, pay attention to detail and where things are. Not just the big elements, but the small ones as well. Be purposeful about even the simple, small elements in your shot because that will really make your work stand out.
2. Understanding light
We’ve mentioned this many times – it’s the light that makes our photos. So, understanding light is one of the crucial skills to learn. There’s so much to learn about light: how its quality affects different photos, how it interacts with different surfaces, and much more. Nigel gives some beautiful examples on the spot around the 12th minute of the video, showing you how natural light affects the same scene from different angles.
So, when taking photos, it’s crucial to understand the light and how it will affect the entire scene. And of course, you should think about how you can make the best of it.
Perhaps you’ve heard this before – all photos you see on social media and in photographers’ portfolios are post-processed to some extent. Editing gives the final look to your image and this is the way to add your signature look to it. Editing can make or break the shot, and that’s why it’s important to master it. Of course, editing apps change and new ones are being introduced, so there’s always something new to learn if you’re up for it. But mastering the basics and how things work is essential, and it will help you always bring out the maximum of your images.
I would agree that these are some of the essential skills to learn and that they will pay off to us as photographers forever. Also, we can expand them and build upon them forever, which is one of the reasons why photography can be something we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives. Would you agree? Would you add any other skills to this list?
[3 PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS YOU SHOULD LEARN (and will pay off forever) | Nigel Danson]