The Best Way to Learn Photography

landscape, learning photography, prairie, farm, horizontal, agriculture, summer, sunset, dusk, dan jurak, Alberta, wheat, barley, clouds,

I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful places on Instagram. Maybe even thousands.

A recurring theme seems to be the twisted trees of Patagonia with the impressive granite spires of the Fitzroy group behind them.

Aside from the occasional capture that is spectacular, that is, incredible scenery, beautifully composed and processed the majority are blah.

Blah photos of an incredible subject?

It seems to be very common. Spend your twelve or fourteen thousand dollars to get down to Patagonia, snap away and let the world admire your creativity.

It sounds tempting but it is akin to getting your learners permit to drive and then buying a million dollar supercar to learn with. That is precisely what I see happening.

Learning photography is not a difficult task.

I am still learning and this is after over forty years of taking pictures. The learning process hopefully never ends.

How do you learn? Before you plan a photo trip to Iceland or Patagonia or any other exotic place you need to become familiar with how light falls upon your subject, how to recognize interesting weather, to compose and to process your images.

We all learn differently so I can only recommend what has worked for me.

Get out with your camera as often as you can. Everyday if possible. Get out and take PICTURES.

There is a common wisdom in sports that to master one you must put in over ten thousand hours. With that time invested you get muscle memory, conditioning, strength, etc.

That wisdom also works for photography. If you like street photography, go downtown and shoot. Shoot every day. Night. Shoot every season.

If you can make a “boring” scene interesting, just think what you can do when you get to someplace exotic.

Your progression at first might seem slow with no improvement but you will definitely be going in the right direction.

Lastly, pore over photo sites on the internet. Just to see images good and bad reinforces those in your brain. It increases your brains ability to recognize while in the field what composition and light works for you and what doesn’t.

Lastly, don’t be influenced by the comments you get or don’t get with your photos. Why? What is someone absolutely loves an image that you are neutral about? Does that make the photo better? What if that person has tastes that are contrary to yours? Your job is not to please others but to please yourself.

I take photos for myself. I no longer have an editor or creative director to please.

Unless you have one or both of the above, get out there with your camera and enjoy yourself.

Happy shooting,



~ by Dan Jurak on May 3, 2018.

7 Responses to “The Best Way to Learn Photography”

  1. I take photos almost every day. I love it.

  2. That really is the best way to improve your craft. It’s like training for a marathon. The more you get out there, the better your run will be.

  3. Exactly. 🙂

  4. Good advice.

  5. I think one of the smartest things that I did shortly after buying my first DSLR kit1 was to take classes with local photographer Frank Veronsky. Frank patiently taught me the basics of composition. He did not instruct me on the settings of the camera suggesting that I learn to compose first then “fiddle” later. Over the last twenty years, I have attended various workshops and field trips with Princeton Photo Workshop all with the intent to improve my ability to “see” the light and create emotion in my photography.

    But workshops and field trips are useless unless one practices every day. Several times over the last twenty years I have done photo-a-day projects, photo-a-week projects and last year, photo-a-month. Practices make perfect and although I still have a lot to learn, I know my photography has improved with time. It was only after I felt that my basic skills had improved that I started attending day-long workshops.

    I think it is money well spent and I am still learning to compose and play with light. This year I intend to attend fields trips in and around Philadelphia and New York City.

  6. Wow! What a well written and thoughtful reply.

    The mechanics of photography really are something that need to be second nature and that can be learned quite quickly in this day of digital photography. Learning composition and balance, colour theory takes longer and like all things in life, some people pick it up right away and others like me have to work at it over and over again until we get it.

    You were lucky to have someone like Mr. Veronsky. My impression is that many photo workshops are more about dragging a crowd through the mountains following the instructor while they take their photos.

    Practice does pay dividends. After forty years I still see an evolution in how I see and process and that is encouraging. We are never “there” and for me that is a big part of the attraction, growing as an artist, photographer or whatever we choose to call ourselves.

    Thank you for the great comment,

  7. Its sometimes best to stick with the basic and apply as much knowledge, ingenuity, and innovation as possible with the limited resources one has.

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