When I first started with my d-SLR, in 2004, I thought my photography was hot stuff. Here I was with this big heavy camera and a detachable lens. I really had NO idea what I was doing. Even though I never used full auto (the green box), I was a fan of the “face symbol” and “running man” icons. I let the camera decide most of what happened. For my first few months using the Canon 20D camera, I had no idea what ISO, Aperture, and Speed really meant. I read the manual, got the Bryan Peterson book Understanding Exposure, and did a little research online. I also practiced.
Fast forward to 2012. I was recently looking through old photos I had stored on disk and locked away in a safe. I scanned through photos from my first year with my SLR. I cringed. Then I analyzed a few. The biggest things I noticed were underexposure and lack of clarity. My photos were NOT sharp and one after another were dark. Remember, I was in a form of “auto” mode. The camera is smart, but not that smart. After a year or so I was in full manual mode for exposure and things improved a lot. I also slowly upgraded my lenses, which made a huge difference.
But the biggest difference, in hindsight was learning to select my focus points in the back of my camera. When I first was learning, everyone said “focus and recompose.” So I did. This lead to one soft or blurry image after another. They were just never crisp. The photo below is an example of this. You can tell, even in the edited version, that her eyes are not tack sharp. Cringe again…
Are you wondering why I’d share my mistakes with the world, on a blog read by so many? There are two reasons:
- It is important to track your own growth as a photographer. You should only compare your photography to your own past work. If you start looking at other photographers, you will always find someone better than you, and some worse. And you will never gain self-confidence.
- I want you to learn from my mistakes. If even a few people look back at their old photos today and see how they have grown, it is worth it. If you come back to this post and share a tip in the comments on what was instrumental in improving your photography, others can learn from you too.
I expect to look back at my current work someday and think “wow, in 2012, I had no clue…”
Here’s an “instant flashback” of mine. I did a quick re-edit, which helped, but I know if I was in this same location today the photo would be much improved in focus, lighting, composition and more. As the unknown authored quote goes, “Strive to be a better version of yourself.”