The most obvious and at the same time naive marker of your growth as a professional today is social networks. Subscribers, likes, lights and hearts. However, all this is not the main indicator of your growth as a photographer. It is difficult to imagine life outside the context of social networks. This is a tool for working on your name, but relying only on them is stupid. Moreover, they do not always reflect the true situation. How to understand that you are growing as a photographer and are you growing at all? We analyze in six points: about everything except likes and subscribers.
1. Inspiration from the work of other photographers
Focusing on others, and even more so trying to copy them, is stupid, especially when you have long stepped over the first stages in the work of a photographer. However, it is also pointless to exist out of context: it is worth following trends, developing observation and drawing on new stylistic solutions.
It is important to distinguish between observation and blind copying. For “observers” there is a good exercise. Look and notice: unnecessary details in the frame, ineptly littered horizon, crooked framing or a clamped pose. Learning from mistakes is important, and it is especially important to include learning from the mistakes of others! A kind of anti-observation, how to shoot is not necessary. Let the outlook and study of others in search of inspiration go hand in hand with analysis.
The easiest way to do this is on social networks: there are few shootings of already ascended photography stars, in which you are unlikely to find any blots. In addition, this way you can search for photographers from your city, see where and how they shoot. Perhaps you will see familiar locations, or maybe even low-quality shots in these locations (everyone starts somewhere) — why not be proud of yourself, knowing that you would have shot (or already shot) there differently and took into account those features that others have overlooked.
2. Analysis of your work
Even if in the vein of analysis, but viewing other people’s work is still a comparison. This tool can be used in another field: compare yourself with yourself. See what you did before, how you filmed and how you processed. It is enough just to lift the archives from the hard drive or scroll through the social networks.
There is a very simple exercise that can be applied not only in photography — include it on the scale of your whole self and your own personality. Think about yourself exactly a year ago and yourself now. It is not necessary to think about everything that happened in the past 365 days, just a slice in the moment.
In the context of photography, you can remember one of those shoots that took place during that period and one of the last ones now. Compare yourself as a professional. How did you work with the model, how did you expose the frame, how did you work with the finished material, and what did you end up with. Most likely, almost everyone will see the difference. Another factor in favor of the fact that you are growing!
3. Comments on photos
We promised not to pay attention to likes and emoticons in social networks. But there is another tool that you can rely on when introspection — comments.
Comments carry a reaction, emotion, response and admiration for what they see. If you’re really heading in the right direction and the footage is getting stronger, then you’ll see it. What you should pay attention to:
- reposts from friends (or even not necessarily friends) with a response to the work;
- reposts of shootings by communities;
- meaningful comments with a response (not “cool, well done”, but some kind of texture — when a person noted the composition, lighting, processing, framing, etc.);
- feedback from the people you have photographed. Especially if you didn’t even ask and people decided to share and thank you in person. Be sure to save;
- live compliments from friends who saw something from your shooting and expressed admiration at the meeting;
- a review about you as a professional that you accidentally heard;
- when new customers come through word of mouth;
- a review or comment from that person (people) about whom it seemed to you that they underestimated you in vain (“They don’t put likes, but praise them in person when they meet. How mean!”). Admit it, you definitely have them. But again: don’t make likes the top of everything.
The list can go on and on, just write in your own observations. And for the future, keep especially valuable and detailed words for yourself, let this be motivation at the right time. After all, since they write this, it means that you are already growing as a photographer, your pictures are worth something.
4. Technique and skills
Growth is not only a quantitative indicator of your revenue from shootings or new orders, growth is the quality of the output images, in which everyone reaches new heights in one way or another, albeit at a different speed. The quality is not only in the size of the matrix, but in the understanding of the very skill of you as a Photographer with a capital letter, who works in this profession, and not “just gets carried away.” This indicator can also be tracked.
First of all, this is the technical side: a more modern camera with a full-frame matrix, fast optics, a powerful computer and functional programs for working with photographs. These are the expenses that you invest in yourself, your professionalism and the power of the result. Each new hardware or software update is a more confident position on this ground in the context of the other points.
The second is your skills. A wide range of working angles or skillful work with artificial light, an open new tool in Photoshop or a well-established technique of the Dutch angle. Even working out the intricacies of the psychology of communication and interaction with customers makes you stronger.
Think of your skills as a Christmas tree, on which you hang different decorations and toys. At first, it is empty for everyone. Then, with every new shoot, every new client, class, or new lens, you hang something new. Now there are several balls, even if they are beautiful, but the remaining branches are empty, there are still many decorations ahead that will find their place.
Imagine yourself now in front of this tree. How many decorations, garlands and balls will there be? More than at the beginning — it means that you have already grown. For some, it will be a richly decorated and sparkling spruce, while for others it will be modest, but already tightly hung.
Just go over in your head everything how you can shoot, what to do, with what technique and what techniques using. Each time, you can present it with a new spruce decoration. To simplify: scroll through your shootings to remember more clearly.
5. Expertise and orders
You are trusted. You are being asked. They listen to you. This factor is not the most obvious and not so easy to track, but over time you will learn how to do it. Each new time will be another reminder: yes, you are growing, your work is considered serious and it is you who are listened to as a photographer.
When they advise friends, ask for an opinion, ask them to tell you about something expertly, and even help with choosing a new camera for someone on their birthday.
The second aspect is the number of orders and third-party orders. Every time you are asked by an acquaintance to help, shoot and consult, do not consider this as using yourself. This factor speaks of confidence in your opinion and professionalism in photography. Most importantly, make sure you don’t overdo it. At some point, you can even begin to form a friendly price list if there are a lot of orders for “our own”.
Seeing as the other side of the toolkit of your skills from point 4. The question “How is this filmed?” Rarely arises when you see the strong work of others. You can easily explain the lighting patterns or what artifact was used to create the highlight in the photo. You watch, listen, read on the topic of photography and there are almost no questions along the way. You are at ease, you understand what they are talking about, you can make out a beautiful picture, understanding how it was taken, and you have no difficulty reading the text about certain functions.
If earlier there was a blind admiration for the top works of great masters, now, looking at these photographs, you read in detail the competently done work at all levels. You are growing!