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Continuous Education

May 16, 2010 3 comments

Once an artist starts exhibiting their work and receiving a wealth of positive feedback, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking we know it all and to stop researching our chosen medium. We go on reusing the same techniques over and over again, until the positive feedback starts drying up and we end up feeling uninspired, seeing the same results day in and day out. Those techniques that we knew so well just don’t do it for us, or for anybody else, anymore… our artwork becomes stale!

Maybe I’m speaking for myself in the above paragraph, or maybe it is a common occurence for other artists, too… I’m not sure. Either way, I’ve found a great way to combat this phenomenon: continuous education. I’ve found that the best way to overcome outputting stale artwork is to go back to basics by finding some new guides or tutorials around the net, often ones that tell you what you think you already know.

When I do this, I find that I am reminded of certain factors that made older artworks successful, but that I have been glossing over while shooting within my “I know it all” bubble. For example, I recently became lazy as far as getting high or low was concerned while on location: a quick read of an article today reinforced this fact for me, and I have realised one area where my more recent artwork has been falling short. Likewise, that same article spoke of shooting at dawn and dusk, which led me to reflect on the fact that my most successful photographs have all been shot during one of those times, and yet lately I have been busy in the evenings and sleeping in in the mornings, leading me to shoot during the daylight hours… another area where recent artwork has been falling short!

Not only did this article highlight the areas in which I have been falling short recently… it also gave me some new ideas! I have also aimed to get as much of a landscape into the frame by using only a wide-angle lens… I would never have thought of cropping a landscape tightly using a telephoto/zoom lens had I not read this article today! Who would’ve thought Mr Know-It-All could pick up a new idea from an article that takes us back to basics?!?

Another great reason for constantly reviewing the breadth of new (and old) information available to visual artists on the net is the inspiration that can be gained from the illustrations that go along with them. As visual artists, we are all more than familiar with the cliche that a picture speaks a thousand words, and this rings true for the countless tutorials and instructional texts that have been published for artists, by artists, around the net! While the text content of such articles does serve to make us think about and extend our techniques, it is the pictures that give us inspiration to get out and get the next perfect picture ourselves. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have read an instructional article and thought, “I want to do that,”  in response to the accompanying illustrations!

Coincidentally, the article that I read today and have referred to throughout this post can be accessed here: 5 Opposite Steps to Better Photographs.