Let me fix your frustrations.

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Let me fix your frustrations.

 I have been watching young photographers getting frustrated with their images. They have images in their minds, a vision, they really, really want to share, but it is not quite appearing as they saw it.

 It annoys them.

 It is not something new; I recall when I started out it was the same. I am sure 20 years before me it was the same. However, there is a way to vanquish the frustration but keep the vision.

 The trick is to understand the flow of learning your craft, accepting it, then taking lots of correcting images to speed that process up.

 There are five phases of skill mastery. Until you get proficient at them in the right order, each ascending skill will be weaker, that is what will make you frustrated.

 It is human nature to leap ahead, we are so eager to get to the top fast, even if it means missing steps. My youth was no different. Although youth has nothing to do with it, age wise, just young in experience. So here is how it goes.

 First, know your gear, your camera, lights, reflectors including your image-editing program. This is the most technical part of our craft. If you don’t master this; really know your tools, everything else will be weak. This is your foundation.

 Next is lighting. Understand how it behaves, how it speaks. Yes, it has its own language. Learn modifiers, how to shape the light, how to find it. What does it look like up close, what the heck is specular anyway? What does color temperature say in your image? How can it give you depth in a 2-D plane?

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 Then suddenly you become aware of the person at the center of this. Wow, all those limbs. What is natural, when should the pose be iconic? How to do you talk to them; express yourself; guide them? What props will work with them.

 Slowly as you grasp what to do with all the limbs with different shaped bodies you discover there is a person in there. You find there are emotions to express; smiles to bring out; personality to project into your image; so much depth to add to your story.

 Now, you can create a vision. You can imagine what your image should be, the full story it should tell. With the base, this part becomes the easiest. Actually, each step becomes easier than the last because as you master each stage, your mind stops worrying about it, freeing it to focus on the next stage.

 I should mention this process never really ends. There is always new gear to master, new lighting to explore, a wider variety of people to coax a story out of.

 If you find yourself frustrated, pause. Go back a stage. Your frustration is likely rooted in a weak base. When you shore that up, your attention will be freed making your path so much easier.

 Be careful of the shortcut. The button the salesman tells you that just pushing will make your images like the pros . . . won’t. When you understand how it works, how it fits in, interacts with the rest of your gear, then push it, it will look just like the pros, because you are one.

 The three images in this blog show a quick evolution of an image from the cluttery start to the Photoshoped finish.

 I hope this insight vanishes your frustrations, focuses your learning curve, let’s you relax as you enter the flow.

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