Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Turn Photographic Theory into Photography?

“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience”. (Albert Einstein)

 Have you ever lost your heart in frustration trying to understand photographic theory?
Have you ever found yourself lost while taking photographs as you search for the right exposure compensation?
From the outside photographing looks easy. You just take your camera and press the button and capture the whole world around you.
However, the moment you try to take a photo yourself you quickly realize it’s a little more complicated.
So you read text books, take lessons, sign up for classes. Very soon your head is overflowing with photographic theory information, but for some highly annoying reason it’s not coming out in your photos.
So let’s think about all of this in more practical terms…

How exactly do you turn that photographic theory in your mind into photography?
Learning practical photographic theory.
There are two sides to photographic theory.
On one side is the photographic theory you learn about in books and school: the basics of photography, the flood of photographic terminology, etc.
And then there’s the theory that you actually use when you’re taking photos, the artistic tools you have for sharing a message with the viewer.

Photographic theory information is everywhere. The real question that matters when you take photos is: What can you do with this theory information? How can you use this information to take stunning photos?
The obstacle for any photographer is to turn all of that technical information that you learn about into photos that people want to watch.

You don’t need to know hundreds of scales to take photos. You don’t need to memorize an entire glossary of photographic terminology. Surely all of that information can be useful, but the goal of a photographer isn’t to memorize the terms and rules of photography. The goal is to use them.

 Photographic theory knowledge consists of the skills that you’ve learned and fixed through practice.
So take a look at your own photography. Is photographic theory something that only exists in your mind or is it knowledge that you’ve transferred to your camera? Is it a tool for your self-expression or a barrier to your creativity?

Here are 2 steps every photographer needs to take to turn photographic theory into photography:

Step 1: Avoid this common mistake.
The biggest mistake many photographers make with photographic theory is the skipping over the fundamentals.
“Yeah, I get what an aperture is…let’s get to the advanced stuff!”
But it’s not that easy. You can easily understand the basics in your mind, however using your camera is an entirely different story.
Don’t hurry; you need some time while your theoretical knowledge becomes your practical skills.

Step 2: All you need is practice.
When you begin photographic theory is just that – a theory (definitions, diagrams, and photographic examples).
You need to transform the theory information in your head into real skills, that’s why you need practice. To reach mastery, authors Malcolm Gladwell and Robert Greene claim that 10,000 hours of work will have to be put into training (read more here).
Understanding the theory is only the beginning. Get to the next level by focusing on practical skills.

Let’s review…
Schools, instructors, text books and classes will teach you the information of photographic theory, but it’s your job to transfer this knowledge to your practice.
Your goal is to have the sound of theory in your mind and the technique of theory ingrained on your camera.
To do this you’ll need to focus on these areas in your practice: planning a shoot, scouting a location, experimenting with the light, and finally taking pictures again and again. 

“Practice, practice, practice and when you think you know it all, practice again.” Brett Harkness

Thank you for reading!
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