Getting Better All the Time

April 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

As your skill as a photographer improves, you'll probably look at your earlier images and realize some of them haven't held up over time. Work you once thought was solid doesn't compare to what you're capable of now. 

On the one hand, this can evoke feelings of wistfulness or regret - especially when the photographs were made at locations you may not have an opportunity to return to.  

Consider the flip side, though: self-conducted portfolio reviews should make you feel good about how much you've progressed. It's hard proof, after all! And when, upon review, you still consider some of your older work to be excellent, that should also make you feel good. It validates the fact that you were on the right track.

When new portfolio-worthy images are created, it's a golden opportunity to review your existing body of work. "You're only as strong as your weakest link" can just as easily apply to photography. If five new images are going in, maybe a few older ones need to come out.

Website galleries containing hundreds - or thousands - of images could benefit from some culling. Even if every single one of those images is superior, nobody is going to wade through it all. Less is more.

Trimming what you choose to display can be challenging. It's easy to become emotionally attached to images since they represent locations we love and experiences we had there. When considering your photographs, though, it's important to develop an ability to disassociate so you can rate the work objectively. 

Remember, pulling images from public display doesn't mean you're purging them from your hard drive. You can go back and revisit these photographs any time, reliving everything they represent to you. Those are your moments, whether or not you're showing them to anyone else.

If you're shooting regularly, chances are you're advancing. Your ratio of hits-to-misses will improve.

Feature the best of your work.

Side note: On the subject of education, a few of you have asked who I learned from. As I've mentioned previously, I'm self-taught - but that doesn't Thompson Falls White Mountains New HampshireTHOMPSON FALLSThe falls are named for Joseph M. Thompson, one of the builders of the Mount Washington Carriage Road (later to become the Auto Road) and the man who drove the first horse-drawn wagon to the summit.

Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire
mean I haven't had help along the way, mostly from books and magazines. Very early on, I pored over instructional manuals written by John Shaw; I also purchased a college-level textbook on photography (though Shaw's books were more useful to me). 

Back in the day, Outdoor Photographer was a quality publication which ran regular columns by world-class photographers. That was, for a long time, a dependable source of information. I own quite a few coffee table books produced by photographers whose work I admire: those have been excellent textbooks.

By the way, your owners' manual is a treasure-trove of information. Many people only give it a cursory glance, which I think is a mistake.

I initially learned how to use Lightroom via a terrific online course via Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning). I've attended some very good seminars.

Look for information and you'll find it.

People whom I consider instrumental in terms of my early education:

John Shaw
George Lepp
Galen Rowell
Frans Lanting
David Muench
Jim Brandenburg
William Neill
Art Wolfe

Chris Orwig developed and taught the Lightroom course I mentioned.

Learning never ends, by the way. Lightroom and Photoshop are always adding new features and functionality. The gear continues to evolve. There is always something new to master.

Odds and Ends

The Teton area ski resorts are now closed for the season. This, however, does not mean winter has let go! The Teton Pass was shut down for a few hours (again) Tuesday night following a few crashes due to snow and ice. It was snowing yesterday in both the Teton Valley and Jackson Hole and temperatures will remain below average for the next few days with more snow on the way. There's still about five feet of snow on the ground in many areas around Island Park, Idaho. 

However, there have been a few days with warmer temperatures and most of the snow is gone at elevations below 5,000 feet. We're getting there. I've got a few perennials just beginning to pop up in my gardens, believe it or not.  

The west entrance at Yellowstone is still scheduled to open tomorrow at 8am. That said, I strongly advise texting first before heading up there (82190 to 888-777). I'm waiting a week or two before attempting YNP since I'd rather see a little less snow on the ground for the images I'd like to make. I am hoping to sneak over to Grand Teton NP in the next day or two, however. 

National Park Week is April 22 through 30. (I realize that's longer than a week. It's the Feds! Inflation is transitory and a week lasts eight days.) Entrance fees will be waived on the 22nd at all NPS properties to kick off the celebration. 


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