That all too often posed question, “What do I need to do to improve?” is so open ended and so woolly that it can raise even more questions than answers. Visiting a couple of forums on a regular basis there appears to be a movement towards complete reliance on advice rather than working it out for oneself. Learning by other’s mistakes is an admirable way of progressing but not half as admirable as learning by your own.
What I find perplexing is when someone asks for advice on equipment of any description, whether it be cameras, lenses, even camera bags, there is such a widespread of opinion that I’m sure the questioner ends up more confused than when he/she asked the question in the first place.
The other question that bemuses me is, “I’m visiting such and such a place, where should I go to take photographs?” Why not say, “Where can I go to take the same photographs that everyone else takes when they visit?” For me the pure pleasure of photography is finding somewhere or something that for me is different and unique and that only occurs very rarely which makes it all the more satisfying when it happens. Sure I have regular haunts that are open to everyone, but I do try and find something different when I visit.
Now here is some advice that I give freely and somewhat with tongue in cheek.
The chart below is invaluable when asked to judge either at a camera club, or pass comment on pictures on a forum.
By choosing any word from column 1, followed by any other word from column 2 and so on up to column 4 you can string together a totally meaningless but nevertheless an impressive comment that is guaranteed to impress any audience and by so doing enhance your reputation no end.
I have it on good authority that most commentators, critics and museum curators use a chart somewhat similar to this! Especially at the Photographers Gallery.
1 2 3 4
Eye-catching Expressive Representational Image
Well seen Graphic Impressionistic Picture
Innovative Striking Intimate Rendering
Conventional Vivid Vibrant Creation
Unusual Charming Nebulous Concept
Iconic Luminous Inspirational Portrayal
You may want to add a further columns, but you run the risk of people thinking perhaps you're bullshitting!
An Iconic, Charming Representational Creation.