Saturday, 8 May 2010

Photography - My Top 5

With manufacturers constantly dangling the latest 'gear carrots' in front of our noses (e.g. for me, it's the Canon EF 70-200mm F/2.8 L IS II USM Lens), tempting us to depart with our hard-earned cash, I thought I'd reflect on what things have actually improved my photography standard.  

It would be great to hear your views too and the whole point of the exercise is that it doesn't have to be new gear, it might be an exhibition you visited, a book you read, another photographer, etc.  

Here's my 'Top 5':

  1. Visiting Costa Rica.  I'd always had a passing interest in photography and enjoyed the outdoors, but it was on a trip to Costa Rica where it all came together so magically.  For such a small country, it's crammed with 5% of the globe's biodiversity in it and it's simply breathtaking.  I'd recommend an operator like Exodus, where you can more efficiently get around to the key sites and the local guide that supported our trip was exceptional.
  2. Asking for honest feedback.  It's great to hear compliments, but we're probably going to improve more with some honest, constructive feedback.  Although there have been plenty of times I've been excited about a shot (usually because of the story behind the shot), it's sometimes good (albeit sometimes painful) to hear what someone who wasn't there thinks!
  3. Photo magazine subscription.  Although there are tons of books that will promise to help improve photography, I find a monthly subscription to a magazine a great way to get regular 'bite-size' chunks of inspiration and guidance.  I'd recommend Digital Camera in the UK.
  4. Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Speaking of books, if I can't make the exhibition, I'll always hope that Father Christmas gets me the hardback 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year' book.  It's the world's best wildlife photography competition and the winning photos are incredible (except if it's a wolf in sheep's clothing!).
  5. Other people's photos.  Obvious enough, but before I head anywhere or snap a particular subject, I always check out Flickr to see what other people have done.  Not to copy directly, but to inspire me.

So that's my Top 5 - not a whiff of a piece of gear! What would yours be?


  1. Well for me it was actually was the gear that was the number one area of my improvement, but not any one piece - just the advent of digital photography. Having photographed for years on film seeing the results instantly and being able to adapt my photo there and then to get a better picture meant the rate at which I learn improved immesurably faster.

    The second thing for me also isn't on your list. It was actually submitting to stock agencies. The rejection of a lot of images taught me a great deal about making sure there were no distracting elements, sharp focus on the parts of the image that mattered and careful use of the post processing tools (such as not sharpening any more). I am now much more critical of my own photos. That has improved my photography in leaps and bounds, whether I am shooting for stock or not.

  2. p.s. I also get the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio each year!