I’ve heard this school of thought before, and as I progress in my photographic knowledge it makes me laugh even more. It’s pretty true. There are three kinds of photographic skill levels with the photographer learning curve.
(Photo from: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/861087)
The first are happy accidents. When you first get your camera, you are still learning many of the controls, have no idea how to produce anything really amazing, tend to over photoshop, and occasionally get something awesome right in camera.
The second level is where a photographer spends the majority of their career. They know the look they want but have a difficult time duplicating it. They know just enough to frustrate the absolute crap out of themselves.
Lastly of course are the experts. They know every single function of their camera, could repeat the inverse square law in their sleep, and all the photogs drool over any and all blog posts by said expert photog.
This of course is slightly exaggerated, but I think depending on our level of experience we can identify with each of these areas. I spent the first few years making accidents. I don’t know if every beginner does this, I researched many specific topics to help my photography grow. One example was trying to shoot in the dark. My friend Christina was coming to stay the night and we wanting to learn about taking pictures of star trails. We spent hours reading, researching and trying to understand the “bulb” mode. It was awesome. I did this for many projects in my 365, I didn’t understand my camera enough to produce the results I wanted, so I read up. Or I wanted to try some sort of crazy technique I saw in another photographers stream, so I learned about Photoshop and created my own compilation.
To me, this is the most exciting part about my craft. It’s like when you’re dating a new guy. The relationship is shiny and new. Your hand feels so sweaty, uncomfortable, and relaxed at the same time in theirs. Learning what their likes and dislikes are. Those super long phone conversations (2 hours of sleep in a new relationship is a super high!). The awkwardness of the first kiss. Even though I don’t make out with my camera (that you know of), I still get really excited when I see a result I’d love to learn and then actually learn it.
I often practice on myself. I have yet to come across a friend or client who I wanted to experiment on and been met with hesitation. Every time I have asked, “Hey, can I try something?” the answer is an always resounding “sure, what do you want me to do?” My peeps are awesome like that. There is a comfort zone with clients though. You want to produce safe results giving them the best product you can. Doings self portrait just seems easier. Although I’m becoming more likely to try crazy things with my new friends ;)
I don’t know much about off camera flash. I’ve been studying, but it’s really like a foreign language for me. I don’t know the lingo so I might as well be Googling Greek. It’s so intriguing, and I love the result, but it’s intimidating sometimes. I’m particularly interested in fashion and commercial photography these days. I’ve been studying the greats like Sue Bryce and Awesome Fashion Photography of Peter Coulson. When I came across this photo I scoured the Internet until I figured out how to do it. I’ve learned a lot about natural lighting, but trying to get a shallow depth of field with a flash felt like rocket science. Thankfully, it wasn’t as difficult as I first thought and getting it right in camera gave me a high equivalent to a first movie date! Wooohooo!
-Looking at the photos, the second one on the right looks soft (which it wasn’t until I compressed it for the blog). I’ll have to take a look at the file again, ha!