Twenty-six years working in technology-related positions at colleges and universities impressed upon me the need for continual, lifelong learning. Now that I am focusing on my photography, I find myself ever the student. My social media followers know I recently enrolled in a flower photography course. Yes, I have conducted workshops on wildflower photography. So why did I enroll in this course?
First, I enrolled because I firmly believe in taking advantage of of learning opportunities. That’s the educator in me. The more you know about a subject, the more you know how much you don’t know about that subject. Think on that a bit.
Albert Einstein famously said “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” ― Aristotle
Second, I also believe I can always learn something new–even when the topic is one I know a lot about. I used to teach introductory computer classes, semester after semester. Yet, I often sat in on similar classes taught by others and almost always picked up a few nuggets of information. I find the same with photography. Each photographer has a unique style and approach to shooting, post-processing and that extends to teaching styles. So, I love listening to other photographers and I love learning new tips and techniques.
Third, I needed inspiration. I was in a slump, lacking motivation. Winter doesn’t inspire me. Remember I live in the Brazos Valley area in Texas where brown is the predominant color outdoors in winter.
What do photographers have learn?
For starters there are all the photography basics like shutter speed, ISO, and F-stops. Then there are the more advanced topics: shooting modes, focusing modes, and understanding all the lens choices. And I haven’t even gotten to composition or shooting techniques.
Then there is technology. The is no escaping the fact that computer skills are essential for even the most amateur photographers. My 10 year old grandson is a budding photographer and our most recent lesson was importing photos into the computer for editing. I am often asked for advice from people who say they have a problem with Adobe’s Lightroom, which I use for post-processing. Many times when I begin asking for more details it turns out their question has nothing to do with Lightroom but is really related to basic computer skills. Or, they will say, I’m not good with computers but…. Sorry, but some level of computer savvy is essential to your digital photography workflow. Maybe I should go back to teaching basic computer classes.
Then there is the software. The digital workflow involves importing photo files, maybe some editing, saving them to storage and then backing them up for safekeeping. We can invest a major amount of time researching the available software tools and services in order to help us make the best choice for our needs. It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed by all the choices and decisions. And I haven’t even touched the topic of printing.
Another aspect of technology used by photographers is the camera itself. Digital cameras are technological marvels! Buttons, switches and menus differ between brands and models and sometimes have a steep learning curve. Cameras and lenses require firmware updates. New updates bring new features to learn about. It’s both exciting and exhausting.
The rate of technological improvement affects us as users of technology. According to a tool developed at MIT, the annual rate of change or improvement for the technologies related to cameras ranges from 17.7% to 59.5%. It’s almost impossible to stay caught up. Thus the need to be a lifelong learner.
Now that I’ve laid out the problem, what about a solution? Of course I offer workshops and my blog includes some how-to articles. A quick search will find many resources. I suggest starting with your camera manufacturer and make friends at a local camera shop. There is no local camera shop where I live so I have to drive to Austin or Houston–luckily many are conducting virtual classes these days. I also suggest looking for a local camera club. Not only can you get advice but you get to socialize with others who share a common interest.