So you have purchased your brand new camera and are looking for different avenues to learn photography skills? While you are trying to figure out which is the best way to learn, I am sure you will be getting tons of advice from your well-wishers and that is probably already making you scratch your head in confusion.
Before I go into suggesting you the different options, you must understand two important aspects which should influence your decision making:
- Right now you are just a camera owner and you must go through proper learning process to qualify as a photographer. This whole process is long and time consuming.
- Take stock of how much time can you invest in learning photography; how much money are you ready to spend, and are you ready to work hard to improve your skills.
Once you have answered the above questions and are clear about these different aspects, it’s time for you to go through the following options which you can look for:
These are very important and actually should not even be taken as one of the options. Ideally these workshops help you understand different nuances of photography, both technical and artistic. They also provide you overview of the different genres of photography which will come in handy when you finally decide to choose your specialized genre you want to pursue. In a nutshell they help you gain confidence in photography and make you comfortable with your complicated looking camera.
These online sessions are a great source of learning photography. It has its own advantages and disadvantages. As a huge advantage, they are relatively cheaper and help you learn in the comfort of your home without having to travel distances. We are currently in a lockdown with severely restricted travel, webinars have become a lifeline for most avid photographers who do not want to stop their learning process. There is a disadvantage as well. These webinars no matter how great in content cannot replace the physical workshops because of the restrictions in practical deliverance. The mentor just cannot hand-hold you and allow you to do practical sessions.
Books & e-Books
Books are another great way to hone your skills. I have used them to great extent and in fact continue to use them. Since book writing is a specialized and tedious work requiring huge level of patience and determination, they usually are written by most experienced and seasoned photographers. But since it takes time to write a book, sometimes they may not have content on latest technology and/or creativity. This is where e-books usually fill the gap. They are precise in content, mostly specific to a particular topic and help you stay interested and engaged and even focused.
So next time you are flying to some place, do not read a novel. Instead pick a photography related book or even e-book and utilize your spare time in most judicious way.
Blogs are relatively new entrant into the photography education arena but have many advantages over previously discussed options. They are instant, they are precise and they focus on a particular topic. Most blogs are also concise in content making the reading and learning fun. However, as a downside, they may not cover complete information. I believe blogs followed by a book or an e-book on the same topic is the right approach. The most important feature of photography related blogs is that they mostly cover recent technologies and individually articulated artistic vision.
YouTube Videos have gained lot of popularity in recent times. Most top photographers representing different genres are creating quality video content on YouTube, making it possible to watch them as if you are attending their workshop sans the possibility of asking questions. They are topic specific, involve two important aspects of quality learning – watching and listening. Most of these videos are also free. But the downside is that they are not interactive and mostly the creator omits some aspects to keep the length of video down.
Though mentioned as a last option but this is probably the most important and most effective way to learn. No library can ever replace a school. An academy, an institute, a school or a University of photography; whatever you want to call it, they are actually the most effective specially if you are serious to take your photography to another level and even want to become a commercial photographer. It can not only help you to master the different technical aspects but also open up your creative vision. Personalized interaction, hand holding etc. are major advantages of an academy. And yes it does instill discipline in you which otherwise is almost impossible to learn in other options mentioned above. Above all an academy will help you take better informed decision about your specialization.
An academy will help you mature your work, your vision, and gives you a better understanding of issues pertaining to creativity. Being the most structured way to learn it clearly steals the show.
How to Decide?
I always say is that as a camera owner your first task is to write down your goals as a photographer. These goals should be both short term and long term. These options are basically the pathways leading to a specific destination. For example, a blog or book may start off well but will leave you mid-way stranded with you looking for another option which can help you complete the journey you started with. Similarly, a workshop if chosen correctly can help you eventually reach your destination albiet with some more time.
As I shared earlier, choose an option that best suits your goal, your dream, your budget and your lifestyle. And don’t feel shy to jump over to another option if you feel the one you chose is not helping you achieve your goal.
Do comment with your thoughts and help us also understand what you think of the options which you feel are good for you.
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