Things have certainly evolved since I was in high school developing photos in the dark room from 35 mm film. I currently use a Canon EOS digital camera which entails a lot more learning about technical details on top of the traditional photography techniques required to take good photos.
I mostly take photos when I travel; since I live in China the sites and subjects are endless and I take them for documenting and immortalizing moments of my short span on this earth. I like to think that, even though we live in this digital age where people’s attention spans are quite short and limited, once I am no longer amongst the living I can leave some powerful images for my descendents and others who wish to gain from admiring them. For this, I’ve made it a purpose to learn more about composition and other photography techniques and concepts.
National Geographic has a good primer on the subject (Guide to Photography - Photography Basics) which outlines some key concepts to follow when taking pictures. We cannot underestimate the power of these basic concepts – such as Lighting, Color, Composition, Focal Point, the Rule of Thirds, and Leading Lines – have on this particular art medium. In addition, the magical means by which one can include a sense of story telling in a photograph is not to be forsaken. And as I learn more about these and other concepts, I try to integrate them as much as possible when I take photographs.
Today’s social media sphere (and the world in general) is oversaturated with visual and other stimuli, making it difficult for you or your work to get noticed. I think nowadays with the advent of smartphone and digital cameras most people tend to take too many photos (including those selfies!). The drawback of this is that we substitute quality for quantity. Personally, I’d rather take many images but after reviewing them, only keep the ones that are technically the best and that can tell a story. I am starting to write a book about my 10 years living as a foreigner in China. I will only be able to include a select amount of photographs in my book; so I will need to carefully choose those that are technically radiant, have intrigue, and can tell a story.
I think the best way to improve the art of photography is to learn more about the craft and also look at other people’s photos. National Geographic’s Your Shot is a great place to start, as it can help train your eye so to speak.