Friday, July 15, 2016

5 things that have improved my photography

It is not uncommon for me to get upset and impatient with myself. I think a lot of us are like that.  We  live with constraints and limitations, some of those limitations can be addressed others - not really. When I was doing a shoot which involved a bicycle, I was trying to balance the bike and take a picture - at the same time.'s not possible, two hands can only do so much. To berate myself for my physical limitations is not going to help...or probably set me up for failure. However, there are a lot of things that can be worked and re- worked. I try and follow some basics principals that have helped me with my craft. I have them in my photo-journal, and it helps to go back every now and then to read it and reinforce it in  my own mind.

Food Photography tutorials email me -

1- How to capture Steam in food photography
2- How to capture white objects on white.
3- Composition theory for food photography
4- How to shoot moody and intense images
5- Painting props for food photography
6- Personalized tutorials.

This may not be generic, we all our different - this has been true for me.

1- Commitment : You can't get much out of anything unless you invest. You have to invest yourself in your art. You have to want it. Time, effort, equipment and most important consistency.  It's not a few hours in a day or a few weeks. I don't think the learning ever stops. Initially, I struggled to execute, causing a lot of heart burn and disappointment. I wanted to rush the process and learn and execute overnight. It's a journey, I have to keep telling this to myself. A path of a self-learner and it's so fulfilling. The question in my mind, initially was, "where do I begin?" A few things that helped me...
  • I made a list of,  websites, tutorials and set aside a time to read. It really helped me learn at my own pace. Workshops are great, but since I have never been to one and I enjoy learning at my pace - I prefer books and online tutorials. 
  • I would gaze at images on Pinterest, analyze them, not just food - landscapes and portraits too.  (Pinterest is a great resource - I have a few photography boards,  here is a link
  • The most boring and the most effective - reading the camera manual. I realized,  I cannot create an image unless I know my tool. I'm still working on this...!! It's not easy, they make the manuals so boring - how can anyone blame us. I'm still not done with reading the whole manual, this is a good reminder for me. 
  • I love to maintain a journal of my learning - to remind me of the basics and the core. 
  • I use my camera - everyday - 365 days no excuse. Practice, practice till I ran out of 1 TB of space and wondered how that happened. 
As my friend Bart says, "We will rest when we die, now its time to work..." 

2- Critique : Most of us are, our worst critics. I'm a firm believer in critiquing my own work. I can be harsh with myself and push myself - no one else can do that for me. It's like an adrenaline rush - to overcome your limitations. However, to get a third eye which is trained better, always helps. Critique is a double edge sword - use it wisely with more than a pinch of salt. Don't let anyone tell you - your work is not worth it !! I have had that experience - the condescending side comment, it not only hurts but makes you self doubt. It's not about you - but their inadequacies. WALK AWAY from toxic criticism no matter who they are.  I think this is THE most important aspect. It shakes your self confidence and it's not good for your work.

I constantly get my work critiqued from my mother, my peers (love the support of my readers) and people I look up too. I have approached them and I have got some very constructive inputs, a lot of times very specific, which helps a lot.

In case of doubt, rather have your work not critiqued than ask opinion from someone who is wearing colored glasses.

How do you know who's the right person to critique your work ?

For me it was my peers like Bart, Sophia, many friends. Specially my family, my husband always pushing me to a challenge, propelling me to learn something and my mother my pillar of strength. My teen is my favorite critic - very factual and specific. They gave me constructive feed back and it was never a monologue - always a discussion. A lot of times I would argue to defend my work...then when I sat back , I realized I need to get objective, to learn. I'm still learning to receive critique - but I must confess, I have evolved quite a bit, but room to improve.  Social-media critique groups have helped me a lot.

3- Don't seek validation: It is a bit of a paradox. We create for consumption...but if you are constantly thinking of what your consumer thinks of your cannot give your best. I remember my author friend tell me once,"your biggest validation will come from you " - Monica Bhide. Do not seek it from outside.

 The moment you seek validation for you work, it shows lack of confidence. Believe in yourself and it will show in your work. For many years, I would seek validation  not just for  my work but a lot of things I did, second guessing myself. I realized no matter what I did,  some people can never be happy - why am I looking for validation?, these are people who love to punch holes. Once, you walk away, you release how much time you have wasted.  Shed have freedom to create, to be who you are and the energy is used to create and not validate an approval.

Use critique,  and shed validation, is it a contradiction? It's a thin line. Are you seeking approval in your critique ??- that's asking validation in bold. OR Are you asking feedback to improve your craft ?

4- Get rid of all your negative energy: as adults we come with some baggage and nothing uglier than carrying a huge weight on the shoulder. I think most people who are creative are sensitive too.

What really helps me is to write all my negative feeling on a paper, make 5 photocopies of it and shred them one at a time. Watch them disappear ... that's what they are worth. And please don't get into the self pity, vicious circle. We all have a lot of things to be thankful for.

There are instance in life that we have no control over. We have to deal with the negative and ugly sometimes. But, there are a lot of times, we can avoid negative energy. I can't get along with everyone, if my interactions start getting abrasive, rather than meaningful, I have learnt to withdraw and walk away. It does not help me to prove anything to anyone. I really feel, learning this was not easy but it definitely evolved me into a better person.

You might wonder what does it have to do with photography?? If your mind is not at peace and you are not happy, you cannot concentrate on giving your best.If you have someone who is a source of negative energy,  block them,  remove them, unfollow them - in real life and/or social media. I need to be peaceful to create and get the clutter out.

5- Time management : limit social media I don't think I should be writing about this, as I fail miserably at it. It is definitely a work-in-progress. There was a time when I would spend a lot of my time 'catching-up' on the phone, phone calls, i-message, whatsapp.. I have cut that down a lot, I hardly talk on the phone - compared to 2-3 hours a day. Messaging, only when someone messages me  regarding work or some light-talk (once in a while).

When am working on something, I open a social media site (read Facebook)...just to see what's going on and end up spending more time than I need too. It's something you can check in but hard to check out. I'm sure a lot of you are in the same boat. Locking down and restricting with a timer never works for me...the rebel in me will throw out the idea. Once I make up my mind, I'm sure I'll execute.

What has helped is, meeting my friends real time over a cup of coffee. I do that at least once a month and it's so refreshing. I was just thinking about it the other day and realized, the reason why we I am on social media for longer times, is my need to fulfill my social capital. I'm quite a dreamer, so I love spending time alone. But, we all need social interaction - can't live in a bubble. Meeting face to face is so much easier.

I'm looking forward to more time to do constructive work,  than hang around invisible on social media. I guess this is it- my list!

Sorry, if you were looking forward to a more technical post. Telling you about light, camera setting. Those are the backbone of photography...but that is not what helped me become better, knowing what camera an artist used, the setting or the light or the way they post processed. Trying  to develop your own creative IQ is a far more rewarding experience than trying to create an image that looks like   the image that got repined ten thousand times on Pinterest.  It's all about the journey ....Thanks for being part of it. Have a fabulous weekend !!

All Photograph on this post are mine and the quotes have the authors mentioned- the ones that I have not mentioned - I was not able to find the author's name, please ask before you use. 

Print Friendly and PDF


  1. Absolutely love this post! Some of the things you've said must go as quotes on my bulletin board. Thank you for sharing :) Really look up to your work :)

  2. Beautifully written simi! Soo inspiring! loved it! and awesome captures as always!

  3. Great article Simi... U r such a great inspiring person.....! All your shots are magical expressions of your art.... :)

  4. Simi ...You have beautifully explained about photographers constrains, limitations and how to overcomes and lead a less congested life. Hats off..

  5. Yes!! The best!! The real Inspiration!!

  6. This post just shows how much you enjoy your work. Every point is spot on! The commitment...consistent...It's a beautifully writen thoughtful post Simi. Really enjoyed it.

  7. Beautiful post! So much to learn from you Simi..

  8. All the 5 points are so important.. I try to do follow few of these it is really commitment to follow it.. You are amazing Simi!

  9. Sorry, the weekend was a bit busy so could not write before!! Photography is more about attitude than technical details. This is a powerful post <3 it.

  10. Such an inspiring write up. I have bookmarked it so I can read it again whenever I feel down. I have felt the same so many times... And it's great to know that some else (whom I look as my inspiration) has felt the same. Thank you Simi. Can't tell you how much this write up means to me. Thank you.

  11. your commitment note you said you had books and online tutorials that helped you learn. do you mind listing the books that helped you?

    thanks, Rae


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to browse. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. Hope you enjoy your stay :))


Related Posts with Thumbnails