One of the many important aspects that I believe is extremely important in anyone’s growth in photography, particularly for learning/amateur photographers is consistency. I have seen many people trying too hard, and exploring too many things, with their minds scattered all over the places without proper focus and concentration towards a clear and aimed direction to lead to. Being consistent in every aspect of photography, may it be technical execution, photography vision and choice of gear can influence your overall pace of improvement. Of course, if you are a professional photographer or have been practicing photography for many years, you know what works best for you, but for many new-comers to photography, they do not even know what they want to do, and what works for them, or what not. Therefore, my sharing here is only valid for mostly beginners and new-comers to photography, the group of photographers that I can relate myself to better.
1) Be CONSISTENT with your Choice of Gear
Jumping ship from brand to brand will not improve your photography that far. Upgrading to that more powerful lens does not necessarily upgrade your skills either. Shooting with too many mediums all at once, trying too many different cameras and setup will lose your focus and screw up your learning process. Pick one main camera system, with some basic lenses to begin with. Start simple, and learn to master your simple setup before you progress further. Learn how to bring the best in your equipment, manipulate its weaknesses while exploiting its strengths to bring out the maximum potential of your setup. How can you decide whether your camera is bad or good, if you have only been using it for a few months, with very limited hands on shooting experience with it? I shudder at the thought of some friends upgrading straight from an entry level DSLR to a full frame (or even more advanced the rangefinder such as Leica) but they could barely control their basic camera system well enough. How do you know if you have maxed out the capabilities of your camera, and not explored the power that is stored within it? It is often prudent to stay with one camera and one system, while consistently shooting to know the system inside out. Only through countless shutter clicks that you will come to reap the benefits of your consistency of camera choice, and see the stark improvement between the photograph you took with that same camera now, than a year ago.
It does not matter which choice of camera you want to shoot with, the important thing is to stay consistent with it. No camera is perfect. However, being able to deliver consistent results with the camera you have known very well, makes a huge difference than using a powerful camera that you can barely master.
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520
Street of man and birds
The shoes walks.
Reading or thinking?
Waiting for business
To shield from the weather, or to use as a weapon?
2) Be CONSISTENT in technical execution
Before exploring really advanced photography techniques (such as multiple strobes/wireless flash, HDR merging, etc), it is more crucial for a photographer to at least be consistent with basic technical execution. Focusing must not be an issue. Often I noticed how some photographers attempted panning photography (getting the moving subject clear while having motion blur background), but they did not even understand the basic concept of focusing, or how to achieve tack sharp focus on still subjects in the first place. When I questioned them further, the grasp and knowledge of Depth of Field were almost non-existent. Photography is a technical art, you cannot run away from learning to master the settings and controls of the camera. There are many basic controls that cannot be skipped. Is your focusing confidently accurate all the time? Are you able to nail consistent white balance? Can you set your exposure parameters properly corresponding to different ambient available light conditions? Do you even know what spot metering does, or how efficiently can you get it to work for you when you do need it? Only being consistent enough with those controls and settings can one photographer move on to more advanced techniques. Yes, I am a little old school. I do not discourage new-comers to explore advanced techniques, but seriously, if you want to shoot extreme macro, how can you get a decent photograph if you cannot even set up a properly diffused flash, or even understand the meaning of TTL (through the lens)?
3) Be CONSISTENT with your choice of genres
Choose a few photography genre to explore. Pick the ones that attract you the most, and you know you will enjoy shooting. You do not have to try everything!! Being too adventurous and ambitious won’t be good, but start with moderation, and most importantly, be consistent with your choice of genres. So the National Geographic magazine has nice photographs of lions and polar bears. It would be ridiculous just to make a trip all the way to South Africa or the North Pole to explore wildlife photography, when you can’t even produce decent shoots from your pets. Do what you can do often, and can spend time doing. I personally chose insect macro and street photography as my main genres. Some people love shooting portraits, some people do landscapes. The common mistake I noticed is trying to do too many things at the same time. How can you be good in anything if you are only touching the surface of everything? Stay with one genre, go deep into it, learn the tips and tricks to produce amazing photography, and practice, practice, practice all the way until you get it right. Keep going and going, always shoot consistently, until you achieve the standard that you are happy with. Then break your own limitations, and soar to new heights. You can only succeed, if you never give up, and stay consistent all the time.
A man and his trishaw
The pulling act.
Outside a glass panel
Jason Lioh and Banana Leaf Rice !!!
All the images in this entry were taken with my old Olympus E-520 (in 2009 and 2010, before I got the Olympus E-5), one same camera which I have used for almost three years. I have been hitting the streets almost every single weekend (I would do so everyday but hey, I do have a full time job) and after each session, I would select a series of photographs to update on this blog, without fail. I have been doing so for more than two years now, and I am still doing it consistently. I admit, I have many flaws and my photography is still far from being anything great or qualify as “magazine” material, but I love what I am doing with my photography, and I do it consistently.
Most of the famous and successful photographers that I admire have been shooting all the time, consistently maintaining considerably high standards of work. They stay true to themselves and their passion, and have the courage to walk on. They have a vision, and aim to accomplish, and they will never stop until they finally obtain their goal. They do not run out of inspiration to shoot, and they never get bored shooting. They do not burn out. They do not contradict themselves. That is what truly differentiates a great photographer from an ordinary one: they are VERY consistent all the times, when it comes to strong motivation to shoot, and having persistent photography philosophy and ideologies.