Today’s post takes the form of an analogy related to my own activities. Its relevance to photography may not seem obvious to begin with, but bear with me…
When I set about getting my exercise fix, my mind can sometimes wander. I currently do my workouts first thing in the morning (at which point, if I’m honest, I’m not completely awake – but that’s another story).
Anyway, in those hazy minutes of trying to build a stronger, better me, my mind can often run through lots of random thoughts about photography, the outdoors, the day ahead etc.
Earlier in the week, whilst flicking through a book about weight training exercises, it occurred to me that there are actually some direct parallels to be drawn between the worlds of bodybuilding and photography.
If you are trying to build muscle, your routine should be based around a set of core exercises which target multiple muscle groups at a time. Known as ‘compound’ moves (squats, deadlifts etc), along with good nutrition these could be considered the building blocks – or foundation – on which your body grows. Bicep curls might look impressive to onlookers, but such ‘isolation’ moves only target individual muscle groups each time.
With me so far?
Ok, now think about the fundamentals of what makes up a good photograph and how we grow as photographers.
Aperture & shutter speed, composition & learning to visualise a picture, interacting with your subjects… these are among the cornerstones which underpin all great pictures. Master them and you will be able to get more creative, tweaking and and fine-tuning your technique – just like adding in isolation moves.
Of course, you have to start somewhere. The two worlds of activity described here are veritable minefields when it comes to setting out on the learning path. What one book or website says you should do may be directly contradicted by another. Likewise, just when you think you’ve understood – and, more importantly, invested time and money – in one approach, up pops yet another ‘expert’ telling you where you’re going wrong!
So what is the best way to learn our craft and progress as photographers? Simple – just get out there and take pictures. Ours is a practical skill, one which can only progress by the act of doing – and there’s no excuse for not doing. Potential subjects are everywhere we look.
I love learning and applying the techniques I’ve studied or simply heard about. For me, even now, it’s as much about inspiration as anything – and there’s no better way of pushing forward than to latch onto something, get off your backside and head off with that feeling of ‘I want to try that!’
Disclaimer: I’m no expert when it comes to exercise, training methods or nutrition – I’ve just read a lot over the years, picking up knowledge and experimenting with what works for me.