In October of 2005 I purchased my first digital single lens reflect (DSLR) camera. It was an original model of the Canon Rebel, an XT. That year (mostly at Christmas) we took 3274 pictures. That was up from 1324 in 2004. But in 2006, the first full year with a DSLR, we took over 13,000 pictures. We did the same in 2007 and 2008. Some time during 2008, I upgraded to a Canon 40D and in 2009 we took more than 25,773 pictures. I was getting good pictures, but I was using the “Mongolian Horde Approach”ť to photography. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it means I was taking hundreds of pictures to get a few good ones.
In 2010 I decided to change my approach. I wanted every shot to have the potential to be a good photograph. To be able to do that, I needed to understand photography well beyond focusing and pressing the shutter button. I turned to my old, reliable friend, the podcast. Since I listen to several TWIT podcasts, I started listening to This Week in Photography. That podcast had been going for several years, so I started with number one and went through the backlog until I caught up. Along the way, one of the members of TWiP started his own podcast, Photo Focus. I started listening to that one too. There were a few other podcasts that I occasionally listened to, but most of what I learned came from TWiP and Photo Focus.
Of course, everyone on the podcasts was saying, â€śtake more pictures.â€ť So in 2010 I did take more pictures, more than 40,000. In the past I had used Googleâ€™s free photography management software, Picasa. I highly recommend it and the price is right, but in the podcasts everyone was using Aperture (an Apple only program) or Adobe Lightroom. I picked up a copy of Lightroom and am learning to use that. (Lightroom keeps track of the total number of pictures on my computer. That is where I am getting all these numbers.) I also bought a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements. It does 95% of what the full version of Photoshop does, but at a small fraction of the price.
This year I am doing a 365 project. This involves taking and publishing a picture every day for a year. If you look at my numbers, taking a picture every day is not a problem for me. Last year I took 5000 pictures with the point-and-shoot I keep in my jacket pocket. But a 365 project is more than just taking a picture every day. I joined a Flickr group called 365: the 2011 edition. Each week there is a new theme for our photos. I learned early on in the podcasts that themes make better photographers. Anyone can take a picture of an interesting topic in good light, but by restricting the topic to a theme requires more skill, not just technical skill, but creative skill.
By participating in this 365 group (there are more than 800 members), I am also getting more people to look at my pictures and give me valuable feedback. Social networking is important in photography. Last year I started posting my Flickr pictures in Facebook. From that, my average picture view went from 3 to 30. Now that I am a part of a group where everyone is interested in making better pictures, I am looking at more pictures and more people are looking at my pictures. It’s going to be an exciting year in picture taking. There is still time to join us.