Whenever you pick up a guide or a book to learn something about photography, you're usually bombarded with suggestions towards other resources, promoted or not. While that is not all bad, sometimes you need to take a step back and let it all sink in. In the meantime, you can learn photography from many things you do in your everyday life.
They don’t have to be about photography, nor fashion, as basically every magazine has pictures in it. However, most of the well-known magazines have people in charge of handling the photographs, and they are experts in their fields, meaning most of the photographs (roughly 90%) will be technically correct, and carefully photographed.
You can analyze all those shots, and compare them to yours, note the differences and try to learn from that.
Photo by thebarrowboy
Movies are essentially photography in motion (to simplify things). They are the top of the line when it comes to visual arts. Analyzing the framing, composition, light, color, scene, makeup, costumography, actors, and so forth will raise your photography game significantly.
There are certain movie directors who implement certain visual styles, from which you can learn quite a lot. For example, the use of pastel color palettes and symmetrical shots which are the signature for Wes Anderson, or chaotic and close up shots which are typical for Tarantino.
Movies in general, have an aspect ratio of 21:9, while your monitor is 16:9 (the standard 1920×1080 resolution). That would make movies quite a bit wider. If you want to start off with 16:9 first, TV shows would be a great way to start. Shows like Fringe, Sense8, Arrow, DaVinci’s Demons, Game Of Thrones, and so forth have great photography, and you can learn quite a lot from them.
A Stroll Through The City Center
You might not notice it at first, but you are surrounded with photography wherever you're going. The city center especially – all those billboards, product commercials, stores and shops decorations, cafes and what not, are brimming with pictures. Billboards usually are a good place to start.
Billboard photos, especially for major brands, usually incorporate top of the line photography. Analyzing the way it is done and trying to replicate that will lead you to great discoveries.
Photographs in bars and cafes are often quite inspiring and the way they are displayed can teach you about placement in photography, as they’ll often make you think about where the photo will be displayed and the way the photo looks. Often a photo is a part of a bigger picture, therefore, it has to fit some criteria so it fits in the place, improving the overall look of the larger piece.
It doesn’t take photography to teach you photography. Make sure you visit galleries as often as possible. Classical Art often brings new ideas to the table, and you can analyze and learn from the way artists portray certain aspects, as light, color, composition.
Having the ability to paint something, gives the artist a complete control over each aspect, therefore light can actually be exactly as the artist has envisioned it; this can be quite tricky to achieve in photography. Classical artists also own some interesting styles and methods which can be applied partially or completely to photography too.
Take Rembrandt for example, the way he lit his portraits in his paintings is one of the most used one-light methods in photography nowadays. Especially in low key photography.
Photo by RC Designer
There is art all around you. Photography is so vastly incorporated in everyday life, that it has become practically invisible. I’m sure that, if you take a 360 degree look around you, you can find at least 10 photographs, or even more. You can learn from what you see all the time.
The trick is to fine tune your eye to notice all that art, and to fine tune your brain to soak up all that influence and learn from it. Be the sponge, soak up every bit of inspiration and information you can, analyze everything, question everything.
Go back to basics, educate yourself with works of the master painters, classical drawings and so forth. There is always something you can learn. If nothing else, put on a good movie, and notice the light, color, and trickery the film directors do.
What We Recommend to Improve Your Photography Fast
It's possible to get some pretty large improvements in your photography skills very fast be learning some fundamentals. Consider this the 80:20 rule of photography where 80% of the improvements will come from 20% of the learnable skills. Those fundamentals include camera craft, composition, understanding light and mastering post-production. Here are the premium guides we recommend.