Photographers have many reasons to celebrate as digital cameras and photo editing software have grown increasingly sophisticated, but there is a learning curve and online videos and software tutorials can take you only so far. How can you grow as an artist?
Fine arts degree programs are perhaps the most comprehensive, systematic method of photography education, offered by such prestigious institutions as Yale and the Art Institute of Chicago. However, they tend to be the most expensive and time-consuming as well. You may find your needs met by taking just a few lessons that address your specific topics of concentration. Such courses may be found online, or you may find classes in your area offered by master photographers, photo clubs, camera shops or community colleges.
When you want to get better at something you have to do it on a regular basis. Get a job where you can use your photography talents, such as becoming a photojournalist or professional portrait photographer. If such jobs are scarce in your area you may be able to arrange a job shadowing experience or internship. Alternatively, hire professionals to do assignment photography for you – you can take notes on their techniques and study the final product.
Not every talent needs to be monetized. If you prefer to practice photography as a hobby, there are still many ways to improve your skills and enhance your enjoyment. Visit art museums—better yet, volunteer as a docent—and attend art functions such as gallery showings and artist events. Join photography groups in person and online; many specialize (using a certain editing software, nature shots, portraits only) so you can narrow your focus accordingly. Take part in photography competitions, many of which offer judges’ feedback along with a ranking or score. Go on photo field trips to botanical gardens, scenic hikes or urban locales, then post your best shots on social media. Limit your post to three or four pictures and ask for specific feedback. Most of all, keep having fun!