Wylies Baths, NSW Australia

Power of observation: photography

For the month of January, I committed to taking photos every single day as part of my 30 day challenge x 12 project. This project consists of a series of 12 challenges related to self-improvement. The reason that photography is on the list is that I have been trying to develop passions outside of work to become more well rounded and ultimately happier. As a designer I’m highly creative in my day to day work but do not have any form of artistic expression outside of my side projects within the technology space — in addition, I wanted a hobby that would bring me outdoors more often.

The style of photography that I’m mainly interested in is landscape and architecture. I use to think photography was overrated, why not just download a photo online of the place you were interested in and instead just enjoy the view and be present while you’re there. That was because I never appreciated the skill it took to take a great photo until I started learning what went into photography. And like with most things I realized I knew absolutely nothing. Being a designer I could recognize a great photo but did not actually know how to take a great photo, the following book Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs helped me with the basics. There is something powerful about being able to envision an idea in your head and then make it a reality by controlling the settings on the camera — it can be equally frustrating when your photo does not turn out as you expected it.

My top 10 takeaways from this experience are:

  1. Practice. Like everything else practice makes perfect, developing your eye for photography and creating your own unique style takes time. In addition, learning the mechanics of how to use your camera and developing muscle memory is priceless.
  2. Slow down. A great photo takes time to set up, wait for the scene to unfold in the way that fits your vision, don’t rush things.
  3. Observe everything. Photography is a pure form of storytelling, if you take your time you can see the story unfold and capture it as it is happening around you in a way that fits the story you want to tell.
  4. Quality over quantity. It’s better to have 1 great photo than 10 mediocre photos. I have learned to not be as trigger happy and mostly stay out of continuous mode.
  5. Subject matters. If you’re likely to never look at the photo again it is not worth taking it.
  6. Be prepared. Scope out your location beforehand and come prepared with the right gear to support your vision — think about what filters or lenses you’ll need and if you’ll need a tripod. And it’s always worth carrying an extra battery.
  7. The best camera you have is the one that you have on you. The camera on most phones now is excellent, if it is the only camera you have at that moment use it.
  8. Some moments are not meant to be captured. This is still something that I’m working on learning — when to take the photo and when not to.
  9. Early bird gets the worm. It’s worth getting out of bed early every once in a while to capture the early morning light.
  10. Publish. Similar to any other form of art it’s worth publishing your photography for others to enjoy. It’s OK if it is not perfect, you are your toughest critic.

I’m still far away from taking great photos, but like everything else, this is a journey of a thousand steps. You can view the 31 photos I took for the month of January on my instagram.com/patrickt010 and follow me at unsplash.com/@patrickt010 for free high-resolution photos.

The next challenge that I have started is 30 days of yoga.