What does being 'good' at photography mean for you?

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Stephen Berger

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I can imagine for some people it's capturing images like Steve's or some other masterful shooter (of any genre) or for some it could be clearly capturing the bird or building or scene or model or loved one or event they wanted (or were paid to create) a record of.

I've always measured it for myself as how close the images I capture come to what I was seeing/intending and/or even feeling. I don't know that I'll ever be at a place where I'm fully 'there' but Im happy with my progress towards my goal and know that I've reached a new level of photographic maturity, if you will, because things -meaning wildlife in action - have slowed way down for me when I'm out which I liken a bit to the 'flow state' in sports.

What/how is ti for you?
 

abc123brian

Well-known member
It’s about the same as you mentioned, getting the shot as how I intended to when I captured the shot. Preferably without noticing something either poorly intersecting with the horizon or edge of the frame. The time I can dedicate to photography is limited and I often cannot be out during the absolute best times of the day so I try to make the best of what I can and keep working towards improving.
 

NorthernFocus

Well-known member
Supporting Member
That's a good question. And one I've never really given any thought until now. It's not a simple answer. I guess being a good photographer means producing good photos. For me a good wildlife photo reveals details(either anatomical or behavioral) that are not normally seen by people. Or show the animal in it's environment. When I'm shooting wildlife there are two tasks. One is producing the opportunity. The other is simply operating the equipment to gather the pixels. Many times I have little/no idea what I have on the memory card until I get home on the computer.

Landscape photography is completely different. A "good" landscape image to me captures what I remember in my mind's eye of the location and moment in time. If it's really successful it brings back the feeling in vivid memory.

Wildlife and landscapes I do for me. If other's like them that's great. But not important. On the other hand I take photos of people for others. They are "good" if other people like them. Pet photography and canine sports are the same. Done for others so they are the judges of success.

So do I consider myself a good photographer? Sometimes. But even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
 

Butlerkid

Moderator
Supporting Member
For me, a good photograph goes way beyond an acceptable level of exposure and sharpness.

I've always thought of photography as a communicative art. For me, a good photograph communicates with the viewer by evoking in the viewer that same reaction/emotions/inspiration that inspired me to take the image in the first place - be that the peace, beauty and hope of a landscape at sunrise, the wonder at seeing nature's creatures and their actions/interactions with each other and their environment, the shock/frustration when seeing nature defiled, etc. These are moments that I experience and want to relive in the future and sometimes share with others who may never experience it for themselves.

Of course I don't create images just for others. But my best images rekindle in me the experience I had when creating the image and can , hopefully, communicate that experience to others.

I rarely create a photograph like that. But it is my inspiration for doing photography as I explore our world.
 

pwaring

Active member
There's a lot of stuff I wrap up together which all equals if I'm any good at photography or not. I'm better at some bits than others. I'm a pretty harsh critic of my own work but I've had a lot of people say some very nice things about my photos and selling prints to strangers has been a real confidence boost. This isn't an exhaustive list but it's what springs to mind:
  • Technical use of a camera - pretty good at all this. If there's an opportunity then I don't expect to miss it because I screwed up with the camera or had bad technique.
  • Artistic composition - I still shoot more images than I'd like but I'm very conscious of backgrounds and elements in the frame and I think the images I ultimately like are generally very pleasing. I'd like to be able to get more action shots and feel the same way about them.
  • Editing - pretty decent at this. I'd like more photoshop skills but I'm very comfortable with lightroom.
  • Fieldcraft - poor. I'm slowly improving at identifying UK birds. My knowledge of bird calls is next to nothing. Slowly improving on general animal behaviour. I tend to use nature reserves or photography hides. Aiming to have far more local projects once I move house later this year. My fitness needs a lot of improvement and for my age my knees are really bad so I struggle to get low as easily as others.
  • Dedication - mixed bag and hoping it really improves when I move close to loads of great nature. I already save and use money for incredible trips. Happy to brave the cold and annoying hours if there's hope of cool wildlife. I've struggled with bothering in the UK though where it never feels like there's anything good in my current local area.
  • Use of images - great. I've grown beyond caring much about social media and I shoot and edit for myself and my tastes. I have my photos printed and framed all over my house and I've started selling some online prints too.
Overall I do consider myself a "good" photographer at this point but after I move house and can walk to a local nature reserve then I have a lot to work on. Mostly fieldcraft and fitness and putting in more time locally . If I can do those things then I have high hopes.
 
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fcotterill

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Photography is that curious confluence where the artistic meets the technical. The technical aspects can be mastered, or at least solutions resolved to work with the hardware and software. The creative aspects are always still 'out there'; this is especially when one uses a camera to record moments in the natural world. One's knowledge of the Natural history of subjects and environs is crucial. This can always be improved upon.
Success in the genres of nature photography hangs as much on one's perceptions of aesthetics, and recognizing the simpler patterns in the scene. So much devolves to capturing proverbial moment. Amidst the flood of images of biodiversity and planet Earth, the truly outstanding images have their way of standing out as exceptions. Invariably, the stand-apart image just has 'that' emotion and tell the story.
As for 'good' ? well, a great deal is about the artist's ability to recognize key elements: Structure and Perspective capture the Depth in the scene: ideally with minimal clutter and obstructing elements etc. An image works if it heightens the Mood and conveys Emotion. Immersion is critical. Often, it's the Gesture that makes one image stand out in a series, i.e. from the more mundane. Such fleeting moments have a habit of persisting for the witness(es): even years later in the eye of the beholder.
This quest is challenging; there's always the same impasse... 'that image' could be better next time....
 
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tclune

Active member
...I want to remember the experience to the fullest, and hopefully capture a few images along the way that rekindle those feelings.
I'm more or less in synch with this. My normal mode of being is walking obliviously through the world. I gravitated to photography to help me experience my surroundings.
 

Butlerkid

Moderator
Supporting Member
The photos you share are world class. Looking at your website is inspiring
Too right… including Sir Isaac and Professor Higgins!!!
Ah.....your kind words are much appreciated! I only pick up a camera about 3-4 times a YEAR! Before each outing, I always feel like I am starting over. And yet, I can see that images I've taken recently are better than my earlier ones taken years ago. So at least I am making progress even with such limited shooting.
 
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gdecamp

Well-known member
Supporting Member
These days being at the local park with my gear, in the back yard or selective road trips are more than enough to keep me happy! I was a winner in the birds division of The Wildlife Photographer of the Year, had my photo in the Smithsonian and several others etc, been there done that but give me a good cup of coffee, a comfy chair in my back yard with some hummingbirds or whatever is at the feeders and I'm just as happy as ever!!
 

jeffnles1

Well-known member
Supporting Member
I don't know that I've ever really defined it. I like to take photos that make me happy and/or make other people happy. Happy can be anything from learning something new about a creature or its environment to a scene that just makes them smile. I like going back through my library and remembering where and when I shot a given photograph. Bringing back those memories is what I consider being "good" at photography. Since I retired early 5 years ago, being content and at peace with the world is what I consider to be good. I don't see photography as a competitive sport just something that I do and it gives me a good excuse to be out in nature and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the woods and fields.
 

Feiertag

Member
Ah.....your kind words are much appreciated! I only pick up a camera about 3-4 times a YEAR! Before each outing, I always feel like I am starting over. And yet, I can see that images I've taken recently are better than my earlier ones taken years ago. So at least I am making progress even with such limited shooting.
I looked at your site, this morning, for the first time. All I can say is, wunderbar! I see you were in Lunenburg, NS. I lived in that beautiful town for a few months (2016). Furthermore, I was a five-minute walk from St. John's Anglican Church, as you elegantly photographed. You have visited Newfoundland, capturing Atlantic Puffins, Northern Gannets and icebergs, as I have. I will be returning to NL, once again, in June. If you haven't been to British Columbia (my home province), you should consider putting it on your bucket list. Cheers!
 

Fishboy1952

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Obviously, being “good” at photography is somewhat nebulous. As someone who is a retired hobbyist, it means something different to me than it does for someone trying to pay the bills with photography. I know that some of my skills have improved over the years, but I still have a way to go. Being good is a goal that I aspire to but I realize I’ll ALWAYS have things to learn. I’ll never get there.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 

Stephen Berger

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Obviously, being “good” at photography is somewhat nebulous. As someone who is a retired hobbyist, it means something different to me than it does for someone trying to pay the bills with photography. I know that some of my skills have improved over the years, but I still have a way to go. Being good is a goal that I aspire to but I realize I’ll ALWAYS have things to learn. I’ll never get there.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Always!
 

Stephen Berger

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
I don't know that I've ever really defined it. I like to take photos that make me happy and/or make other people happy. Happy can be anything from learning something new about a creature or its environment to a scene that just makes them smile. I like going back through my library and remembering where and when I shot a given photograph. Bringing back those memories is what I consider being "good" at photography. Since I retired early 5 years ago, being content and at peace with the world is what I consider to be good. I don't see photography as a competitive sport just something that I do and it gives me a good excuse to be out in nature and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the woods and fields.
Believe me I love coming back with images I like but no matter what always enjoy being out.
 
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Stephen Berger

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
These days being at the local park with my gear, in the back yard or selective road trips are more than enough to keep me happy! I was a winner in the birds division of The Wildlife Photographer of the Year, had my photo in the Smithsonian and several others etc, been there done that but give me a good cup of coffee, a comfy chair in my back yard with some hummingbirds or whatever is at the feeders and I'm just as happy as ever!!
I love this.
 

Stephen Berger

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Thread starter
Of course I don't create images just for others. But my best images rekindle in me the experience I had when creating the image and can , hopefully, communicate that experience to others.

I rarely create a photograph like that. But it is my inspiration for doing photography as I explore our world.
Here here! It's SO satisfying when the image meets ones desires and pleases others in the same way.
 
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Stephen Berger

Well-known member
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Thread starter
For me, being "good" doesn't just mean getting the shot you want, it means knowing what you did wrong without asking when you don't get the shot - and not getting it wrong again.
I believe it's the best way to improve. We may create a great image and not know why but if we get it wrong and figure out how to get it right we've learned something that - hopefully - won't go away.
 

Stephen Berger

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Supporting Member
Thread starter
Sometimes maybe being good is knowing when NOT to bother tripping the shutter. Or at least recognizing your trying to make the proverbial purse out of a sow's ear while in the field rather than forced to admit it at the computer.
Definitely! That is for sure an area I've improved in. Knowing when to call it cause it's just not happening (and sometimes it's me that's not happening, slower reaction times or timing off in general and/or just not feeling it).
 
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