I’ve been taking a photography class for the last several weeks, and I have learned a lot. I highly, highly recommend you take a photography class if you have a DSLR and want to actually learn how to do it.
Before I took the class I played with my DSLR for about 3 years. I even thought I was pretty good at taking photos! I could shoot in manual, kind of, and I truly thought I had a decent eye for what makes a good shot. Plus, I even taught myself how to use Lightroom to do basic edits.
However, taking a Photo 1 class humbled me. My main takeaway was that I had no idea what I was doing before the class. The thing that helped me the most in the class was having a certain assignment to work on. We had several including showing motion, depth of field, taking pictures of public art to work on different angles, etc.
We had one assignment in class that I thought was particularly helpful: We were instructed to team up with a classmate and take 48 pictures of each other – so I got practice as a photographer and as a subject. I thought it was a great experience!
The main goal of the assignment was to figure out how to get the subject to look natural and to take interesting shots that says something about them as a person. It was also interesting to look at the photos after the assignment to determine which pictures were my favorite (as the photographer) vs which photos the subject (my partner) thought looked most like him. My classmates had to describe the mood of each picture in one word – so we were able to see if the mood we wanted was actually captured.
Not only was the shooting a lot of fun, but the critiquing was also really interesting and helpful.
I highly recommend doing this if you ever get the chance. I take tons of pictures of Clara (although lately I haven’t been taking as many as I used to with my ‘nice’ camera… I should really get on that!) but it’s different to work with a person who actually understands directions and who doesn’t necessarily love being in front of the camera. Shooting an adult, I believe, is actually more challenging!
I think this assignment will allow me to take better photos of family and friends in the future, and I really benefited from completing it.
So go find someone and take lots of pictures of them at one time and see what you learn about you as a photographer and about them as a subject! (And then switch off, if they want the practice, too.) I think I might make Tim do this exercise so he can better see what makes a ‘good’ picture of a person. Make sure you ask the person which picture they like, and see if you both choose the same one.