What makes a good photograph? Is it more about the form or the content? The great photographer Cartier Bresson once said, “to photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye, and the heart.” So, here are some suggested activities to improve your photography by exercising your mind.
There are lots of things you can do to improve your photography without leaving home – from getting inspiration and exercising your analytical perception to gaining introspection to focus your mind. In this article, you’ll find some ideas to get you going.
Find inspiration online
Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t visit a museum anywhere in the world. Using Google Arts & Culture, you can take virtual tours of some of the biggest museums. Also, you can zoom into the masterpieces; seeing details you could never appreciate in person.
If virtual museums aren’t enough for you, check out a library. They also hold valuable heritage and have much of it available online. One of the biggest ones is the World Digital Library from UNESCO. Here, you can get free access to thousands of books, documents, and photos from all over the world.
If traditional searches aren’t giving you what you need, look for some innovative thinking. Thanks to current technology, you can get inspired using an unusual starting point. For example, with “Color Palette” you can look for artworks that share the same colors.
Another favorite of mine is “From a picture to a thousand stories.” It helps you find books through words or concepts.
Also, look for the different initiatives museums around the globe have launched during this time, like #StayAtHomeStedelijk, that features mini-documentaries.
Learn how to draw
Artistic disciplines often complement each other because of the different skills you develop by practicing them. One of the most direct links is between drawing and photography.
Learning to draw is an activity that improves your photography because it teaches you to actually see what’s in front of you. It also allows you to analyze how light interacts with objects of different shapes and materials.
For example, this will come in handy when you’re setting up studio lighting.
Understanding shadows also helps you when you’re making photo-composites. That is because you need coherent shadows to fully integrate the subject into the background. You also need to consider how it will affect the other subjects to get a realistic result. Drawing can help you understand all of this.
There are many techniques and traditions for meditation. There’s no right or wrong way to do it in this case. Just choose the one that works for you.
Some of the benefits of meditation include self-awareness, a decrease of anxiety, and therefore increased perception.
All of these are good things for you to focus on your photographic practice and unleash creativity.
Sometimes you can’t even think of a good idea for your next project; other times you can’t find the right angle for a certain topic. This is often the result of a busy life that won’t give you time to reflect because it requires action.
If you work at uncluttering your mind, you may find it easier to overcome these blocks. A related activity that covers both mind and body is yoga, so you can consider doing that as well.
Join a virtual ‘Salon’
Artistic and intellectual gatherings have taken place to fuel some of the greatest movements throughout history. So, why wouldn’t it be a good activity to improve your photography? The idea is, that through conversation, you can exchange knowledge and refine ideas.
Thanks to current technology, you don’t have to leave your house to meet like-minded people or receive feedback on your projects.
Even reflecting on current events with other artists may influence your work.
Look for Facebook groups, discussion blogs, or even host your own salons with your colleagues via video conferences. The possibilities are endless.
There’s a number of activities to improve your photography that don’t necessarily imply making a photograph. If you find yourself without the possibility of leaving the house or picking up your camera, use this time to exercise your mind. You’ll notice the difference the next time you go out to shoot.
Share in the comments section any other activities to improve your photography that you find useful.