Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work. —Martin Parr
Spring officially arrives this next week and along with that comes the annual spade full of photography workshops, seminars, and “master” classes all of which have one primary goal in mind: separating you from your money. I’m not saying the people holding those seminars don’t have any valuable insight or information, they very well may have just the words you need to transform your work. What I’m saying is that, in most cases, there is not enough value to match the price of admission. Many of the people I see holding workshops today are only doing so because they can’t make enough money as photographers to pay the bills. Are any of the workshops out there actually worth $200, $500, or even $2500? None that I’ve seen.
Every photographer should always be looking for ways to refine and improve their photography. Given that we live and work in a digital age, the honing of our skills changes every time a new software update is release. When Adobe pushed out an update to the RAW engine this week, I wasn’t expecting much other than the addition of new camera profiles. First time I opened an image, though, the entire interface had changed! There is always a need to continue learning, to keep up to date, and to improve our skills. But do you need a workshop for that? Absolutely not!
If YouTube is not already one of your most trusted sources of information, that needs to change. With thousands of photographers online and willing to share their experiences and information, there are myriad sources to help you hone your craft and become a better photographer. Photographer-oriented website PetaPixel published a list last week of 13 Photography Channels on YouTube You Should Follow. Actually, their current list is up to 23, which just goes to make my point: the Internet is loaded with more than enough free sources that paying for seminars should be limisted to the very few instances where you can get one-on-one, hands-on help with your photography.
Caveat #1: not every photography-oriented video is created equal. There is a lot of ego-driven bullshit here just as there is with live seminars. That’s why I’m not giving you links to whole channels. I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t have its share of time-wasting nonsense. Some discretion is necessary and in some cases, especially those involving software tutorials, video quality can make all the difference in the world.
Caveat #2: even with the best instruction available, it is up to you to adapt that instruction to your specific style of shooting. New Mexico doesn’t need 10,000 Ansel Adams clones running around in the desert. Make use of what you learn to develop your style more creatively and proficiently.
All that being said, here are five videos that stand out and may just be something that changes the way you take pictures. A couple of them are pretty long, so you may want to bookmark this page or save the video on YouTube if you have an account there. Creating your own playlist is a good way to keep track of useful videos you find so you can reference the information again later. However you choose to handle them, I sincerely hope they all help in some way. Becoming better photographers not only increases the value of your own work but increases the value of all photography.
Using Any Light Source
There’s no such thing as “bad” light, especially with today’s digital cameras that can shoot with practically no light at all. This is over an hour, though, so make sure you have time to get through the whole thing before you start.
50 Quick Photography Tricks
Many of these are common sense to those with sufficient experience, but others are things we just don’t think about and represent some bad or sloppy habits that are easy to fall into. The video isn’t too long. Take a look and see how many of these things you’re already doing.
Are You An Artist?
Want to start an argument among photographers? Ask them this question. There are many opinions as to whether photography can even be an art. Artist Roger Ballen gives you his answer and I find it quite instructive for anyone who wants an artistic edge to their work. The video is just over two minutes but the impact may alter everything you shoot the rest of yourlife.
Finding Photographic Style
Here’s another long one (two hours) from the manager of the B&H event space. This is like getting a whole seminar for free. He really gets deep into the various concepts and methods one can use to explore their own style and stimulate creativity. Block out the time so you don’t have any interuptions.
Creating Visual Stories.
This is an increibly important topic and photographic documentarian Dan Milnor provides some great insight into how to give storytelling abilities to your photographs. In just seven minutes, he can change the way you look at photographs.
That should keep you busy for a while. I strongly suggest that after every one of the videos you take your camera out and see how you can apply what you’ve learned to the pictures you take. Bookmark this page, bookmark the article on PetaPixel, and create a list of your favorite and most isueful videos. Visit them again and again, and search out more. There is plenty of information being shared. What’s left is for you to receive it.