Danny, in New Orleans, LA writes:
“I’m a new shooter and have gotten pretty lucky in my first few months of doing real estate photography in regard to getting clients. I’m not as good as I want to be, though. I'd really like to make photos like those winning photos on PFRE’s contests! Now that things are starting to slow down, I want to spend some time getting better. How do I amp up my skills quickly?”
Danny, I think the best way to improve your skills is to focus on an effective way to learn, rather than a fast way. So here are a few suggestions that I think will contribute nicely to your learning:
- Don’t Reinvent the Wheel! Everyone in this community learned from those who have come before us. By making sure you’ve got the basics nailed down, you can avoid making (and re-making) certain mistakes. There are certain best practices in our field that have stood the test of time and will always be best practices. For example, many of us learned how to use off-camera flash by watching Scott Hargis’s video; and making sure that you’re getting the best possible composition (IMO, the most important thing in our work) is vital, so check out Tony Colangelo’s tutorial for that. There are so many other learning resources on PFRE's site, so I would encourage you to check them out.
- Measure Your Progress. If your goal is to get better, then how will you know you’re moving forward if you don’t measure? Measuring your progress can come in a lot of ways. I think one of the best ways is to simply ask yourself some questions when you review your images on your computer when you get home from a shoot. As you go through the photos, ask yourself: What went well? What did I find tricky or challenging? Then, pick out photos that best represent what went well and what was tricky for you. Doing this can help you to figure out the things you want to continue doing at future shoots, as well as the things you need to improve. Then every couple of weeks, go back to those original photos and compare them against some of your most recent shots. This should allow you to gauge your progress.
- Work with a Coach/Mentor. I’ve often shared that the single biggest and most important thing that I did to improve my work in my own photography, was to hire a coach. In a few sessions, it felt like my learning and progress was off the charts! I’d encourage you to check out the roster of PFRE Coaches if you're interested in getting this type of support.
- Keep at It! This may seem obvious but it’s worth stating. Yes, it can be very frustrating if we don’t see the progress happening as quickly as we’d like but that’s normal. In fact, hitting plateaus is a normal part of the way people learn. What tends to happen after spending some time at such a plateau is that all the things that we’ve been reading/learning about just seem to click all of the sudden at our next shoot. When it does, it's very satisfying!
What other suggestions do you have for Danny to continue his growth?