A Great Way To Improve Your Photography

July 02, 2015  •  2 Comments

bigstock-Photography-School-Camera-Dia-72670300bigstock-Photography-School-Camera-Dia-72670300 Are you just starting out in photography?  Have you been doing it for a while and are wondering how to improve?  Most people will tell you that to improve you need to practice and I would agree.  However, there is another component that is often overlooked. 

When I first started out I read a lot of books.  I watched countless videos.  I practiced with my camera endless hours to make sure I knew my camera and how it worked.  But the one thing that helped the most was associating with people that were already producing the kind of images that I wanted to create.  Why not go straight to the source, right?  Through my local photo clubs and workshops I attended I introduced myself to a number of individuals whom I considered to be producing outstanding work.  Not every introduction led to a contact but soon I had a number of photographers who I could contact when I needed help.  From camera and lens questions to what is the best way to print a photograph, I could ask questions and feel confident that I was getting the right answer. 

One of the main reasons for making these contacts was to have my photographs critiqued by someone that I knew would give me an honest answer.  Your family, friends and relatives usually will not give you an honest answer; they all seem to like your photos because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Luckily I found someone that was producing great photography who was willing to critique my photos on a regular basis.  He didn’t always like my photos, in fact he sometimes didn’t like any of them, but he provided positive feedback.  He didn’t just come out and tell me my photos were crap; and looking at them now, they were.  He would tell me what I could have done differently to improve them or what made them not appealing.  It sometimes hurt to have someone tell me that a photo I liked was not very good, but I knew it was helping improve my photography.   In the end, having my photos critiqued early on was one of the main foundations to my improvement in photography.

So whether it is through a workshop, social media, or your local photography club, find someone that is already making  the kind of photos that you insprire to create and ask them questions or if they will critique your photos for you.  I think you will find most of them are happy to help and it just might improve your photography like it did mine.

DISCLAIMER!  A lot of photographers teach photography for their livelihood, whether they write books, run workshops or classes or get paid to critique photos. It is how they make a living so do not be surprised, offended, or upset if they point you towards their products or ask for some money for their advice.  Not everything in life is free and sometimes it is worth every penny.


J. Silkstone Photography
Great question Sharon. Sounds like you have two questions. 1) How do I go through my photos to find the best ones to put into a portfolio and 2) how should I present them to friends, family, clients etc. Lets start with the first.

It sounds like you have been doing photography for a long time to amass such a large collection of photos. You will need to come up with a system that allows you to sift through them in an organized manner and allows you to identify the best ones from the "OK" ones and the not so good ones (A portfolio should only contain your very best shots - not your kinda good shots - just your very best)

I use LR to go through my shots after each photo shoot and mark each one that catches my eye and I think might make a nice photo. Then I go through those and pick the ones that really stand out to me. Then I go through those and pick the best of the best. For example - you shoot 100 photos. On the first pass you think 20 of those might be suitable to show. Then you go through those 20 and you get down to 8 that you really think are good. Then you go through those and you are left with 2 or 3 that are the best. Those are the keepers that might make into your portfolio. This is pretty easy on a computer using software like LR but can also be done with prints and slides by using the same technique but just doing it manually.

With the amount you have you may want to start with the digital files and work with the most recent (2015) and make your way back.

How to present your photos is up to you. Personally, a digital portfolio makes a lot of sense these days. You can show them anywhere to anyone with ease by just using a computer, Ipad or even a phone. There are places that let you upload your photos for free (Flikr, 500px etc) and are a great way to get you work out there. For the negatives you will need to scan them to files and then use them just like any other digital file. If you want to show case your work in print then you can use a porfolio display such as http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/562998-REG/Itoya_AD24_9_Art_Portfolio_Advantage_Book.html They come in different szes so you can pick the size that works best for you. Another option would be to create a photo book from such places as Blurb and Adorama Pix.

Hope this helps.
With 2 Tb of photos, plus hundreds of negatives and slides, how would I begin to put a portfolio of my work together? Do the prints need to be a certain size ?
In order to have someone look at my works, I would really like a presentable collection.
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