An Update on “Learning Photographing”

An Update on “Learning Photographing”

looks like pineapple, but not

looks like pineapple, but not

On June 8, I had written a post titled “Learning Photographing… Thoughts/Questions”. First, I want to thank those who have responded – Thank you for your comment! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help.

One question I have asked was: “How do I know I am good enough? How do I validate myself as a photographer?”

Mark (Mark Kertesz Photography) said “In my opinion you are good enough when you are proud of what you have taken. When some emotions are stirred from your photograph you have done your job but it’s all about you. Should others along the way like it that’s great but in my humble opinion no validation is needed just do it because you love it and that will shine through.”

What Mark said makes a lot of sense to me (that’s why I want to share his comment with you here). I like a lot of photos I have taken, but not to the degree of being proud of them. Quite often I would smile at my photos; but I seldom say “Wow” like I do when I see many other people’s photos. This is, actually, good. It gives me a motivation to improve.

I met Tony Cilento the other day when I was waiting for an eye examination. At that time I didn’t know who he is. I was playing with my iPhone camera (whenever I am bored, I play with iPhone camera). Mr. Cilento commented on me taking photos, and right away I knew he is a photographer. I bugged him for some photographing tips and he was kind enough to give me a short lesson. (I know the chance of him reading this is very small. Still, I want to thank Mr. Cilento.) I grabbed the opportunity to show him some of my photos. He looked at them and said, “Your photos have an artistic flair in them.” He said that three times! In a strange way, he has helped me to understand me as a photographer. And that somehow removed some of my uncertainty of becoming one.

But, when I wrote “Learning Photographing… thoughts/Questions”, I wasn’t 100% open to you. Back then, I was confused and somewhat heart broken. And, I was embarrassed to let anyone know how I really felt. If you have read Otto von Münchow’s (In Flow) recent 3 great posts on what photography is: The Heart of Photography, What Does It Matter, and At the End of The Rainbow, you would probably understand my problem better. To make a long story short, at the time I wrote that post, I had just discovered that several of those “wow” photographs I saw were the results of heavy post-processing. There is nothing wrong with post-processing, heavy or not. It was “not knowing” that hurt me.

Now, going back to the subject of improving myself… It makes sense to me that I should sharpen my Photoshop skill (I only know basic stuffs). But part of me resists the idea of becoming a Photoshop expert. What if I start heavily post-processing all my photos and can no longer tolerate any photo that has not being heavily post-processed?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people who do minimum post-processing for most of their photos, but once in a while do heavy post-processing for fun. I am worrying about how I will become, that’s all.

I mumble a lot here because I want to take you through some of my thinking process. The end result of this thinking exercise is not too bad: I am no longer confused; I realized that I really like street photograph a lot (even though I am scared to death of doing it); I decided, for now, I should focuse on taking photos only. And Mark is right: I should do it because I love it. Who knows? Someday I may become a Photoshop expert… if that is really what I love to do.


About Helen C

A retired computer programmer who loves writing and photographing, and has managed to publish a YA novel "Jin-Ling’s Two Left".
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8 Responses to An Update on “Learning Photographing”

  1. benrowef64 says:

    Photography and Photoshop go hand in hand even from the dawn of photographic time. For me Photoshop and editing as part of my workflow was natural as I had originally worked in darkrooms and if you knew some of the dark arts that went on in there, then Photoshop would not scare you so much. I think when it comes to editing in Photoshop and learning how to edit in Photoshop you need to play and find your style of editing. Depending on what I want from the image depends on how much editing I do. I think the line in the sand is when you use Photoshop to compensate for camera skill.
    My best advice would be to take the plunge start taking photos, try copying (inspirationally) images you like and experiment.


    • Helen C says:

      Hello, Ben,
      Again, thank you for your advice. I am no longer confused. 😉 Like you said I should start taking photos (maybe I should say “continue” taking photos instead, since I have started already.) My plan is… I am still working on it. Maybe I can post my practice result and get some constructive feedback? Maybe that will help others too…
      Thanks again,


  2. pambrittain says:

    If not pineapple, then what?


  3. Woolly Muses says:

    I think I agree with your comments. Photography should be all about enjoying what we are shooting and endeavouring to improve our own techniques and skills to the degree we want. As for post processing….I think I read on another blog that if it takes longer than two minutes the photo was not good enough in the first place. Personally I think that is a fairly good yardstick to go by.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen C says:

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for following my blog. I am glad to hear the two minute rule – it sounds great 😉 Seriously, the first thing I need to do is to come up with a plan of learning photographing. Learning is fun for me. I can’t wait.


  4. A great and thoughtful post, Helen. I think you shouldn’t worry about what happens if you do this or if you do that. If it sounds interesting to learn more about Photoshop for instance, I would just go for it (although I would actually recommend starting with Lightroom, which has a much less steep learning curve and is more intuitive to use). And if you end up always wanting to Photoshop your images, so what? If that’s what you want, that’s fine – and it’s called developing you photographic voice – something you can’t plan beforehand anyway. As long as you are honest to yourself; whatever you do is going to be fine. In my opinion. Thanks for linking to my post, I am very grateful.


    • Helen C says:

      Thank you, Otto. You are absolutely right. I have come to a similar conclusion, but, somehow, when you said it, it became more clear to me. As a person who likes to plan ahead, I do sometimes worry about things a bit too early. 😉 For example, I have been thinking about your workshop, wondering if I am able to find my photographic voice. But after all these discussion, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a photographer. I do have an idea of my voice now.
      We have both Photoshop and Lightroom. I have used Photoshop Element for a couple of years so I thought maybe Photoshop will be easier for me to learn. I definitely will take a look at Lightroom since we have a copy anyway.
      Thank you again. I appreciate your advice.


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