Did you go to school for photography or did you just pick it up on your own? Did you have a mentor? Did you learn through books, magazines, and or internet websites or YouTube videos? I have a Bachelors of Science in Biology from a university that teaches you to teach yourself.
Let's just say with a grandfather and 2 uncles that were retired photo engravers, the seed was probably set by them somehow. But I never touched a camera as an adult until I was 39. I began reading a birder magazine that had a lot of bird photography articles. Then by some strange quirk, I was given a book on bird photography through my sister. It was by Russ Kinne who was a founder of NANPA and a former editor of Popular Photography. I read the book and I was determined to get a camera and lens. A camera body was in my reach but good telephoto lenses for birds were not. My big break came when I was loaned a new Nikon Nikon N50 and 300mm lens to supplement the volunteer field research I was doing on Harbor Seals. I bought my own camera a week later. I joined a PFLI camera club that was a member of the Photographic Society of America. There I met some of the best photo instructors. I was mentored and critiqued in a NY harsh but wise way. I moved to Florida shortly after that. I did work shops with a few known pros. I read every major book on photography and read all the magazines including all the back issues. I enrolled in a local college course in Photoshop. I also got a new mentor in a photo lab owner who had a degree in Photographic arts from Florida Tech. I continue to learn. It all paid off for me as my hobby became a career. But if you try and find a job with a company as a photographer they want a degree in photography. How about you?
Bought a camera and am still trying to figure it out. Actually over the last 50 years + I've owned perhaps a dozen camera's - and I know enough to be dangerous with them. All but two were SLR's along with the last 6 were DSLR's (broke two - well drowned one), I currently have three Nikon's and the wife uses my old fourth one along with a pocket Olympus. My second Nikon was a D40 - which I still use for snapshots that aren't in the "art" category - I sold it once - but the guy didn't want to pay the state tax - so I never sent it to him. My degree is in fine art (painting) one of my best friends in college got his degree in photography.
I was not much interested in photography back in the film days. My interest in photography comes from being an outdoorsman. I've witnessed so many incredible things while out fishing or hunting, and through the years thought about getting into photography. Investing in equipment that would require me to wait to see my results while film was processed, always seemed off putting to me. Once digital started to take off, the idea of getting involved became more and more attractive to me.
I started learning mostly on my own through books and websites. I took a few continuing ed type courses on photography through ed2go.com. I recently purchased New York Institute of Photography's complete course in Professional Photography. I'm mostly doing the NYIP course because I think saying I'm a graduate of their program will look good in my credentials if I start teaching some local workshops or anything like that. The NYIP course will also force me to branch out and experiment with some areas of photography I may not have ventured into on my own.
Studied Professional Photography full-time for 2 years at Montreals' Dawson Institute of Photography (D.I.P.) back in 1986 & 1987.
We covered Architectural, food, industrial, product, fashion, portrait and lab techniques. Using, small, medium and large format cameras.
Of course, this was all before things went digital.
Roy- You were wise to not send the camera. Florida State sales tax people are harsh and not above entrapment. I spent way too much time dealing with them and they showed up at my door once when I didn't file a statement because I did no shows that quarter. I turned in my license and only did B2B sales in Florida after that. Like through a gallery or retail outlet. I won't even give photos on a cd unless they provide a blank.
Andrew- I got involved through the wildlife aspect of things. I shot slides so I could see my true exposure not an adjusted print. I found a 1 hour slide proceesor with a nature preserve near by so I learned from my mistakes and got insatnt gratification. now with digital feedback on exposure is instant. Cuts years off the learning curve. I branched out as a way to make photography more of an income since I always made my equipment pay for itself.
Michel- Not only schooled but schooled "old school". A great foundation.
John-Experience is the best teacher. Yep. Nicholas- best art comes from self.
When I was in High School in Germany, I had a love for photography and happened upon a German Pro who had his own studio. He saw I had a real love for it and decided to teach me whenever I came by and he had time. Well, I was there almost every day, and I learned so very much with one-on-one training. After about a year, I was making my own professional looking 16x20 prints and making money doing portrait work.
Self taught . . . mostly through trial and error. I have spent some time studying the work of others to learn what works and what doesn't. Through this process, I have learned, and am still learning, how to critique my own work.
Self taught for the most part, but did take a dozen classes and also joined a photo club...I also worked as a photographer for the Federal Government for 10 years. I had a darkroom for some 20 years then switched to all digital and Mac computers. And I bought some 100 books on photography along with going to the library and taking out many more...Also attended museums and galleries that exhibited photographs.
A co-worker whose hands were full asked me to hold his Canon A-1 "for a minute"; it was love at first sight. ;-)
A few days later, I purchased three books on 35mm SLR photography. About a week after that, I used my lunch break to buy a Canon AE-1 Program and two rolls of color film. (Still my favorite camera, event though I eventually lost it to burglars.)
Two weeks later, I sold two 16x20 prints -- produced from my very first roll of 35mm film. By then, I'd already begun adding to my kit with several lenses, filters, and a tripod, and was drawing up plans to turn my kitchen into a darkroom . . . which I did.
During that first year or so, I was completely obsessed with reading and learning everything I could. I even joined a photography book club to feed my input craving, and still have those treasured, hard-bound books on my reference shelf. My head would probably have exploded if I'd had access to videos and free information via the Internet!
What a miracle it must be to embark on a new interest in this info-accessible, digital age; I could have saved a fortune! :-)
My degrees are in archaeology and osteology.... entirely self taught on the camera. I saved up to buy my first 35mm SLR and carried it with me on survey jobs (where you just walk around and look for potential sites). Before I went on a big roadtrip to Alaska I bought my first DSLR - mostly to save me money from buying and processing the million photos I'd take. From then on I got very into photography, watched videos, read tutorials. Alaska was 2008, and I was confident enough by 2011 to start putting my work online, letting people see & buy it. So far so good on the self taught route. Now I'm learning more about shooting people, and hopefully soon will have my own little studio instead of only doing outdoor sessions.
Self taught...over a long period of time. Started with a Mamiya/Sekor SLR...had some Canons...also a Nikon FM2...then graduated to DSLRs. My first was the Olympus Camedia E-20n. Currently use a Canon 50D. I read magazines, check out DVDs on photography, and will use YouTube when I need to verify a technique. And, of course, I read the discussions on FAA often!
I started life at an early age on the other side of the lens. Now, like my father before me, I am what you might call a "fine art Photographer". Self taught but much more interested in the philosophical aspects of imagery as opposed to the technical aspects.
Self taught - I got started due to my love of astronomy. I used to make 15 to 30 minute time exposures on Ektachrome 400 slide film through my large Newtonian reflecting telescope. It would take a long time to finish a roll and I was anxious to have it developed so that I could see my images of distant galaxies and nebulae. So I started to shoot some pictures during the day to use up the film. The pictures were very raw and lacked good composition, but I learned the basics and got hooked. Read a lot.
Self-taught here. The learning curve has been steep and when I look at some of the old film stuff I thought was great at the time, I'm embarrassed. That said, after about 20 years, I think I'm finally at the point where I can distinguish a good photo from a bad one. As John said above "practice, practice, practice". I do pretty well with macro and landscape, but I really want to get good at still life, which I find entirely difficult and maddening. I've drawn and painted still-life images all my life, but getting a good one on camera still eludes me.....gotta work more.
I went to a commercial school for visual communications, which included photography, but I've been doing it forever. I also had a mentor who has two masters degrees, one in fine art and learned about lighting as well as personal growth during the process with him.
Photography is never a "learn it once, do it forever" venture-it is constantly evolving and you need to continuously keep learning, trying and expanding.
I have an associates in graphic design. As an "elective" class I took traditional B&W photography class for one semester. But that was all it took for me. The instructor was awesome and really encouraged me to get better (believe it or not by telling me my first few assignments were crap).
I learned a lot in one semester but, like everyone else, I also learn as I go. I read a lot of articles about photography and always try new stuff and fail a lot.
I got a 126 camera from my parents when I was 10...no mentor, just books and trial and error (mostly error). I did a 16 week darkroom class in 1989 and then worked in 1-hour labs in New Zealand and Australia. I knew working in a 1-hour lab wouldn't pay for my travel aspirations so I got a journalism degree....rose up the ranks pretty fast, was chief reporter after a year on the job and only then was I able to afford the fancy trips to Antarctica, Africa etc. Having said that saving for trips like that wasn't easy..didn't have much of a life for five years or so but was well worth it.
Pretty much self taught. I do have a BA Degree in painting and printmaking (woodcuts, intaglio, lithography) which taught me how to look at images. Picked up a camera in my junior year on campus and by my senior year I was known as the photographer on campus. The college I attended did not offer any courses in photography at the time. I became a professional photographer in the early 70's and have been the owner and operator of a professional photography business for the last 38 years. Used many different formats and brand name cameras during those years.
Self taught. Caught the photography bug in my mid twenties and started out with Minolta film equipment. Later changed to Nikon and eventually switched to digital which seemed to give me a big boost as far as intererest and activity. Was part of a large photography group in central NY which was part of a Nature Center there and learned a lot from the other members. Also read a lot and studied other photographer's photos and techniques. Don't really consider myself a technical photographer and try to stick with the basics. For image processing I use Aftershot Pro and Paint Shop Pro.
I has one semester on year book staff in 8th grade and took an ROP class in high school. Learned the basics of developing film and prints. Joined the Navy at 17 and beer machines and strippers were more important than studying. Flunked out of Photography school and never really took photography serious again until I got my first digital camera D-40 from Nikon about 5 years ago. Have started getting more serious as I upload stuff for people to buy. Pretty much read articles on the internet and bug Rich Franco from time to time. Bought a 5100 body a little over a year ago.
I took a 6 week summer class in photography at Bridgewater State College when I was 15 (1975), and operated a B&W darkroom at home. I was a voracious reader of photography magazines at that time. That was the start of my interest in photography.
I took community college photography classes back in the old film processing days, all black and white though. Only recently have I become more serious about my digital photography although I've always loved to take pictures. My shots have improved somewhat over the past couple of years.
Still learning!! There are some great photographers on this site who serve as inspiration. My degree is in English Literature, and I thought I'd always be a writer. But I'm not driven enough, and it takes a lot of work to do it well. As a visual person, basically, photography has always been my number one art interest to read up on, study, collect, and now ... do (or try). I'm not a techie or an "equipment" person, so that aspect of it bugs me, lol.
Finding time to keep up the learning process is challenging, because in retirement I thought I'd have all this time to "do what I want," but there really isn't enough time. Laundry still needs doing, groceries shopped for, pets cared for, house cared for, and on and on. How does anyone find the time?? I try to make a little time each day to get out there and keep progressing, very slowly but surely. Rich Franco has been a huge help, as was Murray (who I hope will be back once he's recovered).
I've not taken formal photography classes but I've learnt a lot from my main mentor, my cousin Diana. She is a professional photog who travels the world and her work is featured on Nikon's website. The Nikon Corporation recently chose one of her images that she took in Norway for their Christmas card this year. She knows many photographers but two of her main mentors have been her friends, William Allard of National Geographic and one of the worlds leading nature photographers,Thomas Mangelsen. So I am very fortunate to have her to call on for advice and to have her work to study from and to also reference to paint if I wish. I also have a brother who has his own photography studio business in the Atlanta area whos specialty is photographing people whom I've gotten advice from before as well. I do have formal art training and I think that what I know about traditional art in general goes into my photography. I'm primarily a painter so when I look through the camera I think of it as looking at a canvas and compose the shot as if I were going to paint it. I started out just taking shots to reference to paint but then decided to print some of my photographs as well from the urging from my cousin to do so.
Vocational photography class, 3 hours per day 11th and 12th grade, onto commercial art and advertising design program at community college 2 yrs in which included more photography classes. All of this was black and white film, no digital, no computers early 80's. So anything I've figured out about digital has been learned this past year + by hands on and voraciously reading here and other online sources, websites and youtube.
Took a mail course eons ago, got a "certificate" for completion/passing, forgot everything I learned. Got back into it when a camera showed up in the lost and found at a motel a friend was working in. It went unclaimed, so he gave it to me, remembering that I liked photography. Been learning ever since.........on my own and by reading and watching others. Now, I am also "learning" editing, which is harder than the actual photography!!
I have to say that I am somewhere between self-taught and mentored. I have made friends along the way that have helped me learn different things.
A couple of weeks before I purchased my camera, I ran into a guy who was shooting at a Baseball game where I had taken my son. After answering a lot of my questions about photography, this guy gave me his website and invited me to his photo team meeting at his church. That's when we realized that we go to the same church. LOL That's how I met Tim Stanley http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/tim-stanley.html?tab=artwork
Next thing I know, he and I are driving all over the place together taking photos. Tim has taught me about photography and I was the one that talked him into joining FAA.
Every time one of us makes a sale, we text the other to kind of keep that competitive spirit alive.
Tim has taught me a lot, but I have also learned through watching tutorials on YouTube and experimentation as well.
I am constantly meeting new people through photography and learning new things from them as well.
Self taught, with the help of a few books and some pointers from my brother when I first started, he took photography in high school but never got serious with it. Since starting out 30 years ago with a Pentax K1000 I've gone through a dozen 35mm cameras, all Pentax and one Minolta, hundreds of rolls of film, (B&W, slide and print) 3 or 4 books, and just got another one, websites, forums, magazines, and of course, trial and error. Still learning but I think I'm pretty good at it finally...also used a couple of instamatic film cameras in both 35mm and 110 format, and my brother's Yashica 35mm rangefinder camera. After going digital I've used a couple of Pentax DSLRs and a couple of different point and shoot models, Samsung and Fuji.
I got into nature photography just by chance, walking around looking for things to point a camera at while learning and figured I'd see more too shoot walking around in the woods. Found myself stopping along the road to shoot wildflowers, nature walks anywhere possible looking for anything and everything, standing out in the yard in freezing weather at night trying to shoot stars, walking the lake bank with ice everywhere...it kinda turned into an obsession, I eventually managed to start getting some good shots.
Vivian I was wondering when someone would mention the FAA forums groups and site mail. I have learned a lot being here. I really would like to pick the brains of some of the people in this thread. Most or all of them actually.
Glad you agree, Bradford.................I simply wouldn't have cut it here without enormous help personally, and by listening,practising ALL the info so kindly offered in forum and privately. And some have saved my bacon, too, to 'catch' a sale...........
Thank you again FAA..........I have grown,learned to 'see' and learned to accept my limitations......very humbling, in the face of the expertise here, who always help, but never denigrate or belittle........
Had a camera since I was 6. But I was just snapping pictures. It wasn't until early 2000s, I started to truly love photography. In 2005, My husband and I took a trip around the US for almost 2 months. At the time, we figure, we both be sharing the one camera we had. Take whatever pictures we want for memories. But shortly into our trip, I took over the camera (which was just a digital P&S) and my husband took over the video camera. When we came home, my husband bought me my first DSLR Nikon D50, shortly he had to get one too. During that trip, I fell in love with nature photography, but I was still just shooting whatever I saw, I didn't worry about composition or lighting. It wasn't until some time later, after I understood photography, that I went back to those pictures and realized I naturally shoot with good composition, and good subject, lighting was good or ok, due to time of day.
The Nikon D50 came with a kit lens 18-55. I learned so much using one lens. I shot in manual for awhile. I completely taught myself and man did I get headaches. lol I never touch the Auto, A, S, P modes or any other mode. But I learned, and glad I did it. Before the D50, I never touched a SLR of any kind, so it was a learning curve for me.
In 2010, I took the NYIP course at home. (finished the course in 3 months) I mainly took the course, to see what I actually knew. As it turns out, everything I been shooting, I knew all about it. What I have never photographed before I didn't know. And it's also nice to have a "degree" under my belt.
I haven't read any books or anything online to learn photography, lighting, composition etc... I have watched youtube videos within the last couple of years to learn how a photographer did a certain thing and then I'll give it a try. ie: infrared photography.
I see some discussion about the value of having learned photography in the days of film. I find my past 35mm SLR and darkroom work was helpful. I learned the basics of lighting, composition, aperture, shutter speed ... did all the practical tasks a class setting offered, from foreground in/out to burning and dodging. I experimented with effects like POP solarization.
So when I made the switch to digital, the groundwork was there. I had to learn where the buttons were, and I had some new features to try out, but I felt pretty well grounded, both in photographic fundamentals and in post-processing.
I know people who get a DSLR who have never worked with SLR, or any other film format, and too often they see the camera as a magic box. There are so many bells and whistles that they fail to focus on basic elements that make up a good shot.
Crystal. I recommend to anyone who wants to really learn photography to put the camera in manual exposure mode. I know many pros who shoot straight manual and wonder why i don't. I prefer aperture priority for most outdoor shooting. You can't really learn anything in automode. I shot in the program mode that shows F/stop and Shutter speed for the first hour (the camera teaching me) and switched to manual after that. Experience is really the best teacher. Experimenting with different shutter speed and aperture combinations is the only way to really learn.
Geoffry-. I learned on slide film. You have to get the exposure within a third of a stop. Not like print where you could be way off and it would get adjusted in the printing/darkroom. With digital you see what you shot also, but it is instant and you can adjust in the field. Shooting slides made me a master of exposure, so the switch to digital was easier. I like my histograms perfect so I still try in get within a third of a stop. The learning curve on digital is easy, but only for those who turn off the icon modes and other useless stuff.
I think learning on your own and at your own pace, is probably the best way to learn. Depends on the goal. If you want to be a studio shooter, then a structured school is probably the best bet, you'll be instructed on every and all types of lighting,posing,products shots,etc. And to try and duplicate that by yourself and on your own budget would be senseless.
On the other hand, if like me and most other artists here, you want to creat your art, mostly outdoors,with the available light, then all you need is a camera. A lens and a tripod is nice to have too! lol.
But for me, the most difficult thing to learn, about photography and art in general, is the vision, the ability to "SEE" art, wherever it might be found. You can learn all the technical stuff and produce images that are technically correct, but visually are boring. We all know people that have all the best gear, yet produce average images. Some of us know artists, that can operate with the simplest equipment and yet, produce images that are World Class!
So vision beats being a gear head, and that's what makes a person grow,as an artist, is learning your vision,how it sees, and how to improve it. I challenge myself all the time and I think I'm a better photographer because of that.
If you hit a "plateau" and your images are becoming repetitive or boring, challenge yourself to create something new and different,something that demands learning a new process or technique and see where it leads.
There are thousands of gradutes from Film/Photography schools, "flipping burgers" tonight, so that isn't the best or only path to learning and being "self-taught"certainly is nothing to be ashamed or embarassed of,since the vast majority of art sold here, is by people just like us......
I do remember, Geoffrey, when I first moved from film to digital, I was very annoyed with the fact that I couldn't get a shallow depth of field, which was a problem with the first digitals. Granted, I had a point and shoot at the time, but it was a pricey point and shoot with a lot of manual settings. I would shoot a nice iris in my neighbor's garden, and everything up to 10 feet behind it was in sharp focus. Coming from an SLR film camera, it was really frustrating. Interesting that our grandkids will probably never experience the film world (or party lines, or soda fountains in the drugstores, etc. etc. LOL).
EDIT - when I got my first SLR film camera, a good friend who did some professional photography recommended a completely manual camera. I HAD to learn how to set everything myself. It was the best advice I ever got from a pro.
Now that I have some time off, I need to read through this thread.
In the mean time, I am self taught. I had my online mentors. I read a lot. When I wanted to do something I read or asked about it, then did it, then got critiques then kept doing it until I could do what I wanted to do.
I am honored to be a part of this group. I am starting to get the hang of this fine arts thing and I like it. If anybody has any advice to make my photos better please let me know. So far I have seen some absolutely amazing artwork. Happy Holidays and keep up the awesome work
Self taught mostly but taught some by my husband who gave me a great start on all the basic technical stuff. He taught me the fun part too like watching a black and white print develop in the dark room but now I shoot digital and I somtimes have to show him how to work the digital camera ;-) . I'm still learning compostion and there is always something new to learn with all the new advanes that keep coming out. I still have MUCH to learn in Photoshop. :-)
I will throw this out as food for thought and it is really more about my taste than anything else.
When I first went digital and bought PS elements I was amazed at what altering the color could do with various filters applied. I think it was because it was so different than what I could do with film. Anyway, after a while it lost its novelty for me and really anyone that has played with filters for the most part. The image below is well composed and would work extremely well done naturally and could make a compelling black and white conversion. It would have an audience that would want to buy it. As it is, you lose a lot of the impact of the image by giving it a funky color scheme and IMO it takes away from the real story behind the image and cheapens it. Just my view of course.
I followed my father around as a kid and got a SLR while in high school. I learned more from a book that showed an image and the process behind creating that image. This past spring I took a photography class at the local community college and enjoyed it. I learned some things from it. The biggest thing I learned was to get over my hesitancy to do any sort of post processing. I still try to take a light hand when it comes to it.
I'd like to take a portrait and studio class because I think there is more I could learn.
All of the above,I self taught ,then when I gleamed all I took I started reading books,asking questions of those whose work I admired,watched tutorials,when I got to a point where I felt I had hit a plateau, I then went to college to pick up what I had not learned.I am not done yet I will always strive to learn more and more.
I carried Nikon equipment for an old boy-friend who was a photographer.....always had a camera but not real serious..just took photos.......love being outside thought I'd get better at shooting.......for the most part, I needed to save money shooting my own art work for uploading to FAA and for other printing adventures.
I've used Nikon, Minolta, Pentax. I'm a Nikon Girl!
Let me also add my $.02! And here's a better example of what JC said:
With the image that JC used, I could ALMOST live with that image in my house, not sure where, but probably could. In the above image that I posted, hurts my eyes just to look at it and there lies the rub. If you are here and using FAA as a "Gallery", then what you create is there for you to show others and there is no desire to sell anything.
If, on the other hand, you would like to sell these images, then your technique, needs to be modified,way modified. The colors being pushed, makes this art really hard for a buyer to imagine,where would they put this artwork, in their home and especially the image that I posted above, would be difficult to place on a wall, with the overpowering magenta/pink "effect", which is one of the more difficult colors to sell.
If you are using the "effect" as a Bandaid, to cover some techincal issue, that's fine, I guess. I've got images on my sight, that needed help and a few filters later, there they are.(most recent example: My Red Shouldered Hawk, which I shot through the dirty window and a screen!).
BUT, if these are strong images to begin with, then you're doing yourself and your images a diservice,by "hiding" them behind the color saturation effect. I can't tell, with the effect on them now, but I would guess, that you have some good images,hiding there.....
Vivian, you took those words right out of my head. lol I was reading this thread and was wondering if anyone would mention the the FAA Academy of fine Arts and Photography. Your list of mentors is so on target! I am self taught, reading, video, and trial and error. Thanks to the fantastic forums/discussions here on FAA I learn something new almost every day. This is a journey that has just begun for me as I enter into retirement ever so slowly.
Self-taught plus a few in-school and extracurricular art classes during my grade school and middle school days that mainly filled some time but some things may have rubbed off. Also looking through my dad's photography mags as a kid.
I've pretty much just learned enough technical details to settle on a semi-auto setting on my DSLR that lets me do the composition of the framing and DOF (aperture on back wheel), nudge the exposure up or down (exp bias on front wheel), and let the camera handle the other details (exposure & ISO automatic, with restrictions placed on ISO to keep it in a range with acceptable noise). Next I may experiment with long exposures and such. But I digress.
Other things I've picked up from reading online. Having enough of a general tech aptitude to understand some of the hows and whys behind the rules and techniques helps too. They say it's best to learn the rules well, then learn when to break them. I feel like I'm starting to get to the rule-breaking stage, in some respects at least.
Hello to all!!I guess I consider myself taught thru informal instructions.
My Journey began as a teen and my first camera.. Put it down for about 25/30 yrs and picked it up again about 5 yrs ago. I have never had formal training thru a school, but have learned from wonderful photographers over the last 4 or 5 yrs... I have taken workshops with Andy Cook out of Colorado the past three years, but really honed my skills thru Old School Square in Delray(Delray Center for the arts) and the Palm Beach Photographic center. I am still learning, but my outlook on photography was influenced by Vincent Versace, Jack Wild, and Lee Gordon.
I never shoot anything but manual. I was intimated by the idea at first, but its so much easier than letting the camera choose the shutter speed or aperature. I see no reason not too because the camera still meters, but you have the freedom to adjust shutter speed while adjusting F-stop. Sometimes I want a bokeh and sometime I want better depth of field. Its all good!