Confidence In Photography

FallCottonwoods

How many times have you looked at an image and said to yourself… Wow what a fabulous shot, I wish I was that good…? Come on, be honest with yourself, how many times? Well let me tell you that you can be that good, or at least pretty close. All you need is confidence in your photography skills and a lot of practice. Yep, it’s that simple.

I can hear you saying: So Mr. wise guy, how do I gain this elusive confidence?

I’m glad you asked…

There are only two ways I know of to accomplish that. The first is wake up one morning and find that you have miraculously been turned into the next Ansel Adams! If that happens, you better run down and buy a lottery ticket.

OK, that leaves us with number two. Now pay close attention here: the secret is… you must get better at what you want to do in photography! No two ways about it.

Wait, don’t you dare click that back button on me, it’s really very simple and a lot more fun than you might think. At least it is for me and that’s what this is about. Some of the important things I have done and continue to do to build my confidence and make better images. Let’s get started.

1: Learn your camera.

Every camera whether it be a DSLR, point & shoot or even your cell phone comes with an owner’s manual. You know that little booklet that can put you to sleep faster than a political speech. Open that baby up and let’s get started: Whoa, those groans are deafening! Trust me, it’s not that bad. What I did was take it one item at a time.

The manual will show you how to change the settings on your camera but it’s not very good at explaining why. So what I did, and I’m sure many others have also, is to focus on one thing and learn how to change that setting in my sleep.

Practice it for days if you have to but be able to do it without thinking. Then go online and do a search for that function and find some articles that explain when and why you would use it.

I did that with each function on my camera until they all became second nature. Sure it takes time and effort but it’s worth it in the end. You will focus on the shot and not on changing some setting.

2: Shoot every day.

I have not found an alternative for this one. It’s so important to understand how minor changes in light, composition and camera settings affect the image. The only way to do that is shoot! You will have many more bad shots than good ones. (Remember the Delete button is our friend) That’s how you learn.

I keep a pocket notebook with me and jot down my settings and a little blurb about time of day, sunny, cloudy etc, for each shot. Then I compare it with the images when I get them into the computer. That may sound excessive to some but photography has become a passion with me and I strive daily to get better at it. Even if you’re not as obsessed as I am, It really doesn’t take that much time and the education is priceless.

I’m blessed to live in an area of the country that has awesome scenery so I can go just about anywhere to shoot. But you know sometimes you don’t want to go anyplace. You would be amazed at how many shots I have of weeds in my back yard. Anything works for learning.

You may think you don’t have anything interesting around you to shoot. But that would be a mistake. As you get deeper into photography, you’ll look at the world around you differently. You’ll understand that every place has beauty; you just need to look at it with different eyes.

3: Study other’s images.

As you get more confident and practiced in your skills you will understand what the photographer has done to draw viewers into their image. How they use light, leading lines, cropping, DOF etc to make the image almost jump off the page. It’s magic! But guess what, you’re starting to master some of that magic and your images are getting better because of it.

See an image you really like, study it and go out and try to duplicate what you liked about it. Don’t give up; keep trying until you are happy with the result.
I know no better place to learn from others than the “I Love Photography Group”. There is such a wealth of information posted in that group daily; a person could never take it all in. I try but what can I say, I’m strange…

4: Read

I hear ya; you’re so busy with everything I’ve said already when do I expect you to read? We all have the same amount of time in a day. It comes down to how you choose to use it. Don’t get me wrong, believe me, I understand life gets in the way. We all have more than our share of obligations so time does get tight.
But you remember those blogs where you found help with understanding your camera settings; well they can teach you many more things. So when you can, squeeze in a few minutes to learn and try something new. And may I recommend this very blog to get you started…

I know this is very basic and there is a world of information on this subject along with so many photographers more experienced than I. But I hope I was able to help a few of you to take some easy new steps and get that confidence growing.

Am I there yet? Not even close. But just between you, me and the fence post I’m getting better with every click of the shudder…

About The Author

Chuck SummersChuck Summers is an amateur photographer living with his wife in scenic Northern New Mexico. A self professed landscape junky who enjoys bringing the beauty of New Mexico to the world through his images.

He’s a semi-retired custom woodworker that can be found most days’ ankle deep in sawdust daydreaming about his next photo walk.

46 Comments

  1. Janet MillerJanet Miller10-01-2012

    Great article!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Janet, I really appreciate the comment!

  2. Vickey RobinsonVickey Robinson10-01-2012

    What an awesome job, and how encouraging !
    Now we all know that you are a great writer as well as a wonderful photographer.

    Vic

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Vickey for the nice comment! You may be just slightly off with the great and wonderful but I like it!!! 🙂

  3. Carol TomanyCarol Tomany10-01-2012

    Thank you so much for taking the time. I’ll read my manual a little more.

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Carol, I enjoyed writing it. Made me remember a few things too.

  4. HaleyHaley10-01-2012

    Love this! The humor had me giggling, and lots of great tips! Great job 🙂

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Haley, I appreciate the comment. So happy you enjoyed it!

  5. Leroy JacksonLeroy Jackson10-01-2012

    Great article Chuck, some great tips and info. Really enjoyed reading it, Thanks!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you for the kind words Leroy!

  6. Pete PemantellPete Pemantell10-01-2012

    I found this to be very refreshing, things I have done in the past but forget to practice day after day came to mind. To add one small item that I found to help me is that I enjoy shooting with someone but learn more when I am alone. I find it easier to concentrate on a subject when I do a solo shoot. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a shoot with a friend as well. Kudos Chuck, this is so well done and is very informative. Thanks for sharing. Pete

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Wow Pete! Thanks you so much for those words. Means a lot to me. And I agree, solo is a better learning experience.

  7. Tim HarrisTim Harris10-01-2012

    This is a very well written article along with some very solid advice. A few years ago I purchased a book for my specific camera written by someone other than the manufacturer. As I read it, I performed what I was reading at the time on my physical camera until I knew that portion well and before moving on to the next subject. A few years have gone by and my knowledge has improved, but I still read often and it amazes me that each time I still learn something else about my camera that I didn’t get on the prior read. I too take photos every day. I have seen my skills grow since I started doing that over a year ago.

    Again, Chuck well done and thanks for taking your time to write this.

    Tim Harris

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Tim! I appreciate the comment. Funny how it works that way. I too have read something over again and again and see something new that I missed…

  8. John KainJohn Kain10-01-2012

    A great read Chuck. The basics, very simply stated and so true.

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks John! Sometimes it’s good to revisit the basics every once in a while…

  9. Cori SmelkerCori Smelker10-01-2012

    Thank you for the reminder. I know when I got my camera I read the manual, and scoured You Tube. A friend of mine had taken some really cool photos and I asked her what she shot with. It turned out we had the same camera. She was able to give me some great tips.

    Another thing that a friend of mine did was a form an interest based group at her church and once a month they get together for a meeting where they discuss everything from taking the photo to editing it, and then they go out to a specific location and spend time taking photos.

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Cori! It’s great to have a friend to help you get acquainted with your camera. I’ve never tried shooting with a group, may have to see if I can find one that would let me in…lol

  10. Charlene SummersCharlene Summers10-01-2012

    Yay!! So proud of you daddy. I love you

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      WaHoo!! My own private fan club! lol Thank you so much baby, love ya…

  11. GaryGary10-01-2012

    This is a great article, Chuck.. Loved the humor and all the steps you have put into place making this a fun and interesting Article.

    Gary

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Gary! It was a lot of fun to do. Glad you enjoyed it.

      • Diana TrueDiana True10-01-2012

        Very well written and some very good suggestions. I really liked the second part – I do see the world in a different way now and like you I have taken many shots of beautiful weeds.

        • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

          Thank you Diana! We all are always in such a hurry, when we slow down we get to really see the beauty around us.

  12. Karen BainKaren Bain10-01-2012

    Excellent article. Back to the basics. Always a good experience. LOL I especially like your idea to appreciate the photos of others. This is possible to do in I Love Photography – so many great shots in one place. While looking at the “closeups” of the latest challenge, I realized I had a closeup to share. Builds confidence – as in – “Oh, I can do that, too.”

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Exactly what I was getting at Karen! When you go through the basics, you build the confidence. Thank you so much for your comment.

  13. vickievickie10-01-2012

    WAY TO GO DADDY. I SO WANT TO TAKE UP PHOTOGRAPHY

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Vickie! As far as taking up photography, I don’t have a clue who you could learn from…LOL Thanks for commenting honey, Love ya…

  14. ShellieShellie10-01-2012

    This is so well written!!! And your pictures are more and more beautiful every day! I love you daddy!! Let me know when you want to try shooting family photos….me, Jason and the kids can really use some updated shots! 🙂

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Shellie! LOL pretty soon folks are going to start thinking I paid you guys to comment… by the way where should I send the checks? 🙂 Love ya, talk to you soon

  15. Mimi CollinsMimi Collins10-01-2012

    Wonderful, Chuck, thanks for sharing your thoughts – and practices! I really enjoy your NM landscapes! ~Mimi

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Mimi! Glad to hear you enjoy the photos, I sure enjoy taking them…

  16. Ron StraitRon Strait10-01-2012

    Chuck… GREAT READ! & so true ! I have been doing just that, slowly but doing it. I am learning so much from others & I am so appreciative! Learning the camera & the editing programs are very challenging but the more you do it the easier it gets. The key is to take baby steps so you can keep it fun because I agree it needs to be fun if your going to be the best you can be, practice, practice practice! Thanks Chuck keep up the good work!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Ron I’m happy you enjoyed it. You’re right about the baby steps, they’re kind of like pennys, there’s not much to them but pretty soon they start to add up into something good. Appreciate the comment.

  17. Julie ClarkJulie Clark10-01-2012

    LOVE this !!!! Great advice…. and its soooo true…..

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Julie! So happy you liked it…

  18. Alison GrahamAlison Graham10-01-2012

    Nice job, Chuck! I enjoyed your conversational style and down to earth advice. I’m still learning the technical aspects of my camera, every shoot is a learning experience. Learning from others on the I Love Photography group has also helped me get better far faster than working in isolation would. Thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom with us!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you so much for the kind words Alison. So true about learning from others, I always search out photographers more experienced and try to learn all I can squeeze out of them…lol Are you still shooting the D60? How are you liking it?

  19. Joyce CampJoyce Camp10-01-2012

    Awesome article Chuck, Thank You so much not only for the tips but taking the time to do this for us and putting it in words that even I understand what you mean!
    Sometimes I will go to articles and get totally lost in what they are talking about!
    I have learned so much in our facebook group and am excited to keep learning more now through this blog! I have such a hard time finding stuff on the group page so the blog should really help a lot!
    Again…Thank You!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you for the comment Joyce. So happy you got something out of it… I love out photography group, I learn new thing every day.

  20. Terry CrankTerry Crank10-01-2012

    Nice Reminder Chuck. I will open my manual again.. Also need to get into taking pics everyday. Love the challenges on I Love Photography site. Humor was a plus made me smile.

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thank you Terry, I really appreciate your comment…

  21. Jerry TurnerJerry Turner10-01-2012

    Great article and advise Chuck! You are a man of many talents, Good job!

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-01-2012

      Thanks Jerry! But I got to tell ya, the woodworking and photography are a lot easier… lol Thanks again my friend.

  22. DAVE FAGANDAVE FAGAN10-03-2012

    ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES I HAVE TAKEN THE TIME TO READ.. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK..

    • Chuck SummersChuck Summers10-03-2012

      Thank you Dave, I really appreciate your comment.

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