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10 ways to improve your photography and life

October 15, 2009

I found an interesting post by Scott Bourne about how to improve your photography without buying any new equipment, which he attributed as an extension of the lessons from David DuChemin’s ebook “Ten“.  I’m not a great photographer, nor to I have any particular inclination to be one beyond taking some good shots of my kids.  But in thinking about it, I found that many of the items are great lessons that can be applied to creating the image of you.  So, here goes my ripoff/rewrite of Scott’s great points.

1. Know who you want to be. Make a decision on what’s important to YOU – not to society, your parents, your girlfriend, or your teacher. Decide what’s right for YOU and then stick to it.

2. Don’t give up! It’s not easy to set a goal and then stick to it.  But it sure is rewarding. Half of life is patience and perseverance. Gut it out. When it gets hard, dig in your heels and work harder. Work an extra 10 minutes on things you’re working on that spark your passion.  Spend an extra 15 minutes a day studying people who you admire.  Handle your camera.  The more effort you apply, the better the result.

3. Just relax and be yourself. You don’t have to dress and talk like anyone else just to impress people.  Just be yourself.  This ties strongly to my first suggestion.  If you’re not sure who you are, remember, you are NOT your clothes. You are the person BEHIND the image. Don’t be afraid to let that influence your style.

4. See in yourself the things you want others to see in you. Nuff said.

5. Develop your own interests and your own style. Don’t just copy someone else. Your image and skills will never really improve unless you stop copying other people’s ideas and start developing your own. It’s okay – great even – to be inspired by other work. Just don’t copy it. Do something new.

6. Work hard. And then work harder. I have a favorite saying I heard back when I was in high school. “Everybody wants to be a rock star without having to learn the chords.” There’s no getting around the fact that getting good with people involves dedication and hard work.  Buying a lot of dating or self help programs or the best clothes in the world won’t do a thing for you if you don’t get off the couch and get out and meet people.

7. Be consistent.  If your style is all over the place, it’s a sure sign you haven’t settled who you are and what you want to do with your image.  Until you sort that out, nobody else will be able to either.  Stick with it.

8. Be positive. With the emergence of online forums and the Internet things can become very negative. Trolls who can’t or won’t do what’s necessary to succeed really, really don’t want you to either.  It would force them to come face-to-face with their failures. So ignore them. Stay upbeat. Stay positive. Stay focused on your goals not your detractors. Excise the people, places and things that are a negative influence on your life.

9. Be objective. Be open to constructive critiques of your skills. Step back and get rid of your emotional attachment to your image.  Analyze it as a stranger would. Check yourself – to see if you’re hitting the mark you set for yourself.  Be willing to admit when you’re wrong and learn from it.

10. Care about the people you meet. Talk to them as if you are going to be the last person to ever get that chance.  Whether you’re at a bar, the gym, the grocery story, the movie ticket line, or anything in between, remember, you’re personality and skills can brighten someone’s day and possibly get you a date.  If you can focus on that you’ll get better.

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