Delete Your Photos!

This entry is for n00bs only.  Ok, anyone can read it, but it’s aimed at those of you who have just started to get interested in photography.  One of the reasons that there are so many grumpy photographers on the internet (trust me, there are lots) can be summarized visually using the following graph:

As you can see, most enthusiast photographers are working very hard with not very much to show for it.  That’s why many of them give up photography and change their hobby to pixel peeping.  Anyway, the purpose here is to get you, the reader, to the point where people will compliment your photos and maybe even give you a compliment such as “you’re a good photographer,” or the more dreaded, “ooh, you’re good, can you take pictures at the next family gathering?”

Doomed to be a Photographer
Doomed to be a Photographer, by Brian Auer

The reality is, it’s not that hard to be way better at photography than just about everyone else.  Getting there doesn’t require knowledge of f-stops, apertures, shutter speeds, dynamic range, or even tripods.  All it takes is editing.  Don’t show anybody your bad photos.  That’s it.  Even better, delete the bad ones.  It’s shocking to me how many people upload their entire memory cards to Flickr for all to see.  Don’t get me started on Facebook pictures.  It’s just as well that most Facebook pictures are crap, though, since Facebook keeps all the rights to anything you upload there.  If you can’t decide for yourself which photos are bad or good, get someone else’s opinion.

If, and only if, you are following the advice of the previous paragraph, then the next step to having better photos is to take more.  Again, only do this if you are consistently deleting your bad photos. Take lots of photos of the same thing, and make sure to try different angles and camera settings if you’re ready to get out of Auto mode.

Ok, now you’re probably 2/3 of the way up the curve I made up, good job!  We’re not going to go into any technical details today, so look elsewhere if you have reached the point that you’d like to learn what PASM means.  Or, if you use a Canon, PAvTvM.  Look it up.  To reach the “you can get here in 2-3 months” point on the curve, the last thing you must do is be deliberate.  What I mean is think about the photo you are taking and make sure everything in the photo is how you want it.  In other words, don’t just point and shoot.  Pay attention to the background, think about whether or not you want to use the flash, etc.  Basically, whatever you do, do it on purpose.

There are literally millions of books, blogs, or photography classes out there where you can learn as much as you’d like about any detail related to taking better pictures.  If you love photography, seek them out and learn from them.  If you have no interest in photography but simply want to have better pictures to share, then follow these steps.  You might find that photography’s a lot more fun when people think you know what you’re doing.  So remember:

  • Take more pictures
  • Delete more pictures
  • Be deliberate

6 thoughts on “Delete Your Photos!

  1. Great illustration. Boy, open source spreadsheet software has really taken a hit in quality lately.

    Snob Alert!

    I think that not everyone is cut out to get past that 2-3 month mark. Some people are born with a great eye for detail or telling stories through pictures. Some are better at telling stories with words. And some are amazing at logic. This is just how the world works.

    I know a lot of people are taking better photographs but there will always be an upper echelon of photographers that can make it as professionals. Everyone else will be stuck in the middle somewhere because they’re great accountants or managers.

    I wrote a blog post about this very subject that you can check out here.

    It’s not snobby so much as it it’s what I feel is the truth. Many people will be stuck in the middle (the classic bell curve) but most of them will get stuck at some point shooting really nice images but never making the ultimate leap to professional or artist.

    Good article, though, and good advice about not showing people everything. Remember that only about 10-15 photos — from pros with decades of experience — even make it into their portfolios. So if the pros don’t show you their crap photos, you shouldn’t either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s