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.

Pho­to: sewport.com

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.

Pho­to: www.istockphoto.com

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!

Pho­to: www.istockphoto.com

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.

Image: premiumbeat.com

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.

Pho­to: stock.adobe.com

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”.

6. Seeing

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!