We Are Our Best Teacher!
Getting better, that is a constant theme in just about everything photographic. Is it just human nature or is it just the nature of photographers? Whatever it is, getting better at our craft is a huge part of what it is to be a photographer. You know what I’m talking about. You do it, we all do it, that’s why you’re reading this blog post right now. You’re hoping that some pearl of wisdom will leak out of my pea brain that will help you be a better photographer. I’m just as guilty of it. I’m constantly looking for that piece of advice of a posting, that one statement in a video that will trigger a response in my head to send me out clicking. But quite often, I find some of my best learning comes right from my own files.
I was looking for a specific image of a specific aircraft for a client. They wanted a particular angle, which while important to the client, didn’t really excite me at the time I took it so it wasn’t one of the images I finished for myself. In the process of locating the image, I came across the original Nefs of the AZ Wing of CAF B-17G “Sentimental Journey.” A favorite of mine, I never was satisfied with the 24×30 print. I didn’t like the blue reflection of the sky in the fuselage. I didn’t like the gesture in the frame and I wasn’t satisfied with sharpness. The image, which is now almost 4yrs old, was selected as a favorite 4yrs ago. That’s a LONG time ago in the life of a photographer!
In my own files, I found what 4yrs later I think is a better image. Why is it better? Since the photo itself is 4yrs old, it’s not because I shot it differently. Rather, what in my mind as a definition of what makes a better image has changed. At the same time, while software offers more options, how I use those options has evolved as I’ve learned more. What I have learned (and has stuck in my mind) then affects how I see and how I communicate. By looking at my own files, I’m not finding “new” images that can be reprocessed, but can find what new lessons have taught me that can be put into action.
But more importantly, by looking at your own files when you put that camera to your eye, you see better when you go click. While I might fine that one file that I can reprocess to produce a better image, more importantly that one file might click in my own mind an important lesson I want to put into practice in the viewfinder. Ya, you run the huge risk of seeing images you’ll say quietly to yourself “that sucks, what was I thinking” but that’s OK, you learn from them just as well. Why is that? Because we are our own best teachers!