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As well as doing some research, make an effort to actively think about what you see. Even when you're out and about and not especially in a position to be taking photos, train your eye to look for 'moments': for shafts of light, for interactions and reactions, for interesting backgrounds or subjects. Being able to anticipate what comes next will help you to get the shots you want. Perhaps the most common mistake anyone who's new to photography makes is adopting a 'scatter-gun' approach.

This is something that we've covered in depth of Photocritic before now, but it bears repeating. It is much better though to slow down and spend some time observing the subject. About Us. Photography School. Looking for light First and foremost, and maybe without even realising it, you're becoming more attuned to light, to its quality, to its direction, to its temperature, and to its quantity.

Be a tough self-editor, but hang on to anything that makes your inner voice whisper to you. Those are the photos that often contain clues for where you are headed. Luis, I don't have a perfect answer for you, but I do have some ideas that worked well for me. Get some good books and read them carefully. I have found a few books which have been great, "seeing landscapes" and "the making of landscape photographs" both by Charlie Waite are excellent.

He is based in England, but you should be able to get them. Written for painters it is one of the best composition books you will find though. Join a camera club. The competitions they hold can provide a real incentive to improve yourself. Decide what it is you like in life. I find it almost impossible to shoot good images of things I have no interest in, but I can happlily spend a whole day photographing what I love. Get out with your camera as often as you can. Many of your early images will be rubbish - but its a learning experience and you will improve so long as you keep a careful eye on where you went wrong.

Go easy on gear. I think we all go through the "I need a bigger, newer, shiny You can achieve a lot with very modest equipment. A simple SLR and a couple of zooms is fine to begin with. Good luck Adrian. As somebody said most comments here are crap, but you get very good ones as well. Perhaps a good talk with an experienced photographer will be of help as well. But I think a good idea would be to give yourself some assignment, or to participate in a photoclub, so that you have to focus on a subject.

I mean, to make photographs is not the goal, but just a mean to express something. You will develop an eye for photographs when you learn to see, and you will learn to see when you know what are you seeing, what are you looking for. An example to make myself clear: you can take photo from landscapes, but a landscape is not just stones, trees and maybe some water nicely arranged, a true landscape is a vision, is an idea.

The same is with people, good candids entail an idea of what people is. I think a way to start could be to photograph some specific more abstract subject, like for instance, bizarre people, or working people, or desolate landscapes or whatever you like. That will make you think in the subject, perhaps to read over it, or to study it, lo learn where to find it, to have an opinion on it, to connect you to the subject emotionally and intellectually. Photographing is not only shooting, it is a complex process.

Wonderful responses to your inquiry Luis! Thank You for starting this discussion. A person's attitude shows in s he's photography. Or anything else for that matter. Find a way to pick yourself up or get picked up when you're down. Have a circle of close friends, family, who will sense this and will say to you, "you know you're a terrific person and I like what you do!

Try to do better. And better. It'll go on til the day you leave this earth. They may not appreciate it but it's the desire to give that counts. Join a club or organization. Spend a lot of time looking over, examining, formulating, getting your thoughts organized before taking pictures. Take pictures. And some more. Then more. Keep thinking, working on how to do better. Look at other photographer's works. Talk to them. Take classes, photography, art, classes on what you like, maybe it's portraits, macro, nature, sports. Smile and be happy.

I suggest to you that you would concentrate on one quality of a good photograph at a time. Spend a week just looking for this one quality, and take about 40 pictures of things or events that have this one quality. A good picture usually has good qualities.

However, there may be good qualities out there to choose from. Another, is "diagonals". Another quality is "near and far". Another quality is "shadows". The way I started, my first picture was of stairs. I pictured the stairs diagonally across my frame. And wlith that, I learned the first quality. You must spend one week on your assignement to learn about each quality.

Then after a month or so, you can combine qualities. Qualities may be graphical concepts like above, or color harmony, or human symbolism as is used in cults and religions. Each one is a quality like music. To learn how to play music, you must start at the first in a simple manner and add more tones or notes as you go along.

There are photographic books that will direct you to these concepts or qualities. Master photographers are aware of many qualities. Amateurs photographers hardly know any. Timber Borcherding timberborcherding. Another way to find qualities is to gather a number of magazines together.

Decide on one or two qualities that you will search for. Perhaps that quality is "symetry". Find all the photographs that use symetry as a dominate quality. Churches are often symetrical. People can be symetrical. The ocean can be symetrical. A car can be symetrical. So, spend a day just looking for this one quality.

That is alot cheaper than spending money on taking pictures, at first! When you use your camera, try to emulate or use this quality of "symetry". After looking at symetrical objects in magazines, go outside and find an object, like a sign or a newspaper rack or a telephone, or an apple, and make a symetrical photograph of it.

Is that exciting? But either is playing on a piano with 1 note. But now you really know where that 1 note is.

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The Photographic Eye: Learning to See with a Camera

You can pull it out and use it anytime you need to in the future. I took a course in photography for 3 weeks. This is how I learned. We were given assignments like: "shadows", "near and far". We did about 5 different qualities. As a result, I was somewhat equipped to do assignments for the college newspaper and I did PR for the college as well. Therefore, I became professionally almost immediately.

All I knew was qualities. But I knew the qualities that would help me as a beginning professional, and I didn't fail. Therefore, I am giving to you a method that works. I am not going to spend time telling you to feel good and keep going, etc. This is very well covered by the others above.

Everyone else seemed to miss the methods to learn to gain a photographer's eye. Therefore, i posted it for you. I forgot a couple of things. Wow, Luis, you really began an emotional discussion! Here's my idea: I liked what Bruce Thee said in his response about there being artists and technicians and that he feels weak as an artist. I'm an artist who is weak as a technician. My college piano teacher once told me that he'd never heard anyone mess up so musically!

I don't have to spend much time to bring forth emotion or beauty, but I have to practice forever to master the technical aspects of a piece. In contrast, my friend was a technical wizard and could easily reproduce all the notes and chords without much practice, however, she spent hours trying to learn how to make it sound pleasant.


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And she had to do this by very methodically and left-brainedly slowing the tempo here and pausing there and following step by step instructions to make her music art. That part did not come naturally to her, but she was able to learn many qualities that made her piano playing take on emotion and she became a performer who acknowledged her weaknesses by performing fewer romantic pieces and capitalizing on her strengths by performing more classical pieces.

So it IS possible for natural technicians to learn to be better artists. My interpretation is that he's saying we will all see the same thing differently. I won't see something the same way someone else will see it. All of our ideas, philosophies, and beliefs are combinations of others' ideas, philosophies, and beliefs that we've mixed in with our own to develop our individual and unique systems of thought.

So how can you enhance the artistry of your eye? How can you begin to see musically? I think Timber Borcherding gave some great technical advice which III will try, and I'm sure the other suggestions to look at and evaluate many other people's work and taking many pictures yourself is a must, but I was thinking of how to give some right-brained advice that you could actually try - you know, a first step for your right brain. One thing is to get a book called "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" which is an excellent tool for learning how to really see what you're looking at, not just what you think you're supposed to be seeing.

An example is that you KNOW a table leg is at a 90 degree angle to the table top, however, when you actually see what you're looking at, from where you're sitting a ways away from the leg, the angle between the table top and leg LOOKS to be less than 90 degrees. If you look at it and still see 90 degrees, you're using your left brain to tell you what you think you know about the relationship between the table top and the leg.

When you see it looking like NOT 90 degrees, that's your right brain actually seeing what it really looks like from your angle. That book makes you so aware of how we go around seeing things the way we assume they're supposed to be, not how they really are. An application of this is when one person tries to draw that table with 90 degree angles for the legs and it looks like a kid's drawing, and another person draws the way the angles really look and his picture has perspective and looks like a real table.

See a Problem?

It's a real eye-opener if you try some of the activities it presents. And I find myself thinking about some of those principals when I'm photographing. And my other suggestion is to go back out in your back yard with your camera and find something that looks remotely interesting - maybe the leaves on the tree are starting to turn a little. Instead of taking a picture of the tree, or a group of the turning leaves, get even closer and take the picture of one turning leaf or half a turning leaf and half a green one.

Doesn't that still tell the story of what's happening in your back yard? Only now, the story isn't about the tree, it's about how the leaves are starting to change. Find some pretty rocks then get really close so the whole frame is filled with the rocks. If you have an old shed out back that looks rustic and has charm, take a picture of it, of course, but also take a picture of only part of it.

Get close and take a picture of the chipped wood on the corner of the window sill. Maybe a technique you can use is that when you see something that looks interesting, try taking a picture by filling up the frame with only part of it. Think "details" and get closer. The woodpile? Get close to see the grain on the ends of the logs. Fill up the whole frame with parts of a few logs.

A tire on your car? Maybe put part of the bumper in there. I think an approach like that might help show you the beauty in details and you'll gradually start evaluating for some of those interesting details. Then when you go to shoot bigger scenes, your eye will notice the details of scene that will make it interesting. Ok, I apologize for the length of this, but I hope it's added another idea to the pot.

Good luck Luis! Check out a book titled "Learning to see creatively" by Bryan Peterson. Beautiful and inspiring photographs plus some tips. It's funny, when you say that you don't have a photographic eye- the first step is the recognition of bad pictures, and it sounds like you have that down! With that skill alone you can do what so many say and just take a lot of pictures and by the sheer percentage come out with a few good ones, but that doesn't doesn't sound like what you want.

I think that the key to getting the shots that you want- those that show ordinary things in an extraordinary way- is to find a new perspective. Get low to the ground, stand on top of something, back up and zoom in, take some macros, film it at night, siluette the sun behind it, take a long time exposure of it, put it on a mirror, put a sheet over it, etc, etc. Also get another set of eyes on things. I learned a lot about learning to see the different photographic opportunities by travelling with other photographers. It's amazing, any two photographers can go to the same spot, at the same time of day, and come back with completely different photos.

The different perspectives make interesting photos. And as for those who say not to look at photo. When you do get advice, you can look at his or her portfolio, if you like what you see, listen to them, if you don't, ignore them. Having spent the past 20 minutes browsing over all the thoughtful responses above, I'd like to echo Vesa and Waldo's comments above. While many of the posters have given good advice on improving the aesthetics of a photograph, aesthetics serves as a medium to communicate your message. The aesthetics "rules" of composition can either be used to reinforce or challenge socially accepted norms.

A good photograph is one that successfully uses aesthetics to its advantage, either consciously or subconsciously, to make an insightful statement about its subject matter. For this reason, by photographing subjects that you are sympathetic to i. In the absence of a prior relationship with your subject, let your curiosity drive your vision.

A good photographer combines subject knowledge with creative spontaneity e. Luis, Appologies for potentially repeating some of the above - I did not have the time to read all through, but felt like commenting. You have put forward potentially THE question every more or less serious photographer has asked him or herself at some point in there "career". The answer I found for my own question is time and careful observation, even and especially when you do not have a camera at hand. Train your attentiveness to details, expressions of faces, changes in light and colour, unusual objects at normal places and vice versa.

If you allow time for that, pictures will come to you. Not all pictures work for all people, so feedback is very helpful, if done with care and the interest to help the other grow. Show your work to family, friends and strangers like here on photo. Be surprised how well that works, if you really like the picture. To cut this long comment short, don't search for the holy grail, but practise - share and do again.

It is a never ending cycle - and fun. Luis, my personal experience is that the more I want to take good pictures the less successful I am It is more like a question of "presence" and "disponibility". The picture comes to you, not the opposiye I don't go out hunting for it This is a reason why I became more and more interested in asian religions and philosophy. It's about overcoming your inner resistances and "lacher prise". Here are some exercises that I found useful in helping me to see things in a different way I believe that I got this one from a Freeman Patterson book I read many years ago: Go into a small space like your bathroom and shoot 36 exposures, try and make each as unique as possible from the others I like to walk around my block maybe once a month and take 36 photos I've never taken before I tend to quickly notice what's changed or new and I'm always suprised at the images I get Another exercise was given to me by a commercial photographer in Toronto, he told me it did the most to open his eyes to seeing things for him Five part assignment, the first four the idea is to isolate each of the following elements using full frame shots, and then the fifth is to combine them all into one shot Turns out I loved shooting rythm and perspective and had a hard time with balance, so the exercise quickly pointed out my weakness I'm also lucky enough to know a few award winning art directors, and they tell me to learn from the masters But your copy must be worthy of the original, no use simply picking the same angle when it was the detail and the light that made the original a great shot That's all I know about the subject, not that I really know anything Cheers.

For me, there are two fronts - the emotional one and the technical one. How it is different from what I see. This is a craft that one can and should learn. It takes practices and practices. Like housework, no one will notice it unless you don't do it right. To be a truly successful artist, one will need to communicate "it" to the audience. Hence, I need to first know what makes my heart jumps. This takes a lot of self-discovery to know not just what I like, but why. Consequently, it's said that each photo is a self-portrait. I am afraid this is an art that cannot be taught.

I think the interesting partnership between Pt. Just my 2 cents. When you go out to take photos, do not try to get "the shot". Clear your mind of all preconceptions on what you think you should be capturing. Shoot 10 rolls of film in 1 day without any concern for the outcome. Try to be intensely aware while at the same time having an empty mind.

When you develop the film post all the photos on a wall and study them. If you continue to shoot in this mannor you own way of seeing will emerge. Your goal here is not to develop the eye that someone else has. There is no reason you should be able to see "the shot" that someone else saw. You need to learn to see your shot. Most of the contributors on this site have given you great advice.

It comes from artists and dedicated professionals. However, I am going to offer some advice from a photojournalist rather than an artist. Burn film. Lots of it. I have shot in excess of images since June, and I am not currently working in still photography. As many people have said this is something that can come only with practice. The more you shoot the more you see. Secondly, despite all the beautiful single shots on photo. Pictorial stories are difficult but will sharpen the impact and power of every shot you take. When you make yourself weave together a complete story using images you have taken you will start seeing more powerful, and more explanatory images.

This style of shooting is not for everyone. It's harsh, it's raw, and it can be extremely difficult; but it will make you a better photographer in all styles. Art shots, still lives, studio photography, and of course photojournalism. There is nothing wrong with the right side of your brain because you are able to enjoy beautiful photographs taken by somebody else. There is nothing wrong with your left side either because you know exactly how to use a camera and you know what's technically involved in taking a photo.

So the problem, I think, is that there is a disconnect between the hemispheres of your brain. The two sides are linked with something called corpus callosum and you may have not enough "bandwith" to transfer all the required information between the hemisperes and therefore you don't push the shutter button correctly. I don't know if there is any way to improve corpus callostrum connection.


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I don't think it's a mussle you can train. As many have said you can take pictures and may be one will be good, but that would be solving the prblem by brute force Good luck. BTW, my corpus callostrum works like crap too, so I just stopped wanting to become an artist. Instead I just take very good technically pictures of my family, that's as far as I can go. Best regards. Shooting lots of film is great practice, but for non-professionals, it can be pretty expensive. Looking at photos yours and others' and critiquing them is great, but I think instinct is the most important thing.

Start taking your camera everywhere, not necessarily to burn film, but to look through the viewfinder for interesting shots. Or, if you don't feel like lugging your camera around everywhere, hold up your fingers in front of your eye like a square, and pretend it's your viewfinder it might look dorky, but it helps. Sometimes, to get the best shot, you don't have time to think of every rule you've learned and every photo you've seen, so just go for it!

Oh, and get close - don't just be a bystander, get in on whatever you're photographing, it'll probably make a big difference! This is very personal I find. My experience is that when I'm thinking too much, I miss the moment, the vibes and I don't see my unique angle of view. By the moment I mean the moment that means something to me. Find out what moves you, experience what it is that moves you, be there, take the picture your way. Ok well hopefully this helps, have a worthwhile time doing your photography!

I too go out looking for subjects and have days when nothing inspires me. So I try to keep aware at all times for subjects which inspire me.

The Photographic Eye Learning to See with a Camera

When I find one such as a specific tree which awes me with its shape and presence I go back and photograph it. I take many, many photos of that one subject from every angle and from every distance. I go back at different times to catch different qualities of light. Back at home I compare all the photos over and over. I try different cropping and different Photoshop adjustments. I keep trying and trying until I finally capture the quality which initially interested me in this particular subject. I am still a long, long way from where I want to be, but I am getting better at capturing what moves me.

I enjoy reading LensWork magazine. In all of the issues that I have read about 6 after buying some back issues they have had one or two good articles about seeing complete with advice. When I started photographing in Jan of , I took pictures of about everything that I saw. Most of the pictures were garbage. Now I am more calm and just take pictures when I "see" the photo. Most of the pictures are still garbage, but there are not as many. Seriously, I think that the latter technique works best for me. Hi Luis, I just wanted to thank you for starting this thread.

I feel pretty much the same way about my photography and have just spent the better part on an hour reading all the responses with great interest. My 2 cents would be to try not to worry about the technical aspects but focus on what you want to say. Once the eye is trained to "see" the picture, then you are more than half way there.

I might even take the advise to heart. One of the main things I learned is the importance of picking a project rather than just walking around looking for pictures. And it is important that the subject matter you choose be continuosly accessible.

In my opinion the photographic eye is simply the practice of learning to see | Course Hero

This translates for most people into picking a subject close to home. It is harder photographing your own day to day life. You don't need exotic places -- and often they are deterrent because the photographer does not know the exotic place well enough to capture its essence. Showing what is beautiful or not beautiful in your day-to-day environment is infinitely more interesting. I too am enjoying this thread.

Well, this is quite a thread. I did not expect to get such a number and variety of responses.

First, I would like to thank all who have taken the time to read my question and participate with recommendations and opinions. They have helped me greatly not only in thinking a way to re-approach my photographic interests, but also in understanding the different meaning and interpretations people give to the practice of photography in general. The question I posted here is one of many that I have been asking myself from a few months back, when I realized there was something fundamentally wrong in the way I was approaching photography.

I had been reading a few articles here and there, and a common underlying thread started to form. It all came together when I read an article in Lens Work in which the author mentioned that novice photographers spent more time talking about equipment than about prints. All of these based on the more technical aspects of photography: MTF curves, groups and elements, diffraction, singal-to-noise ratios, you name it.

Be ready and have the gear. Some people in photo. After all, I am an engineer. I do love art, but still my formal education is definitely a quantitative one. Clearly, I have been doing this to avoid the bigger questions: What is it about photography that draws me to it? What is it about a photo that can whisper to my soul? These thoughts plus others not worth mentioning here have led me to my own quest of creating a personal interpretation of the gestalt of photography.

I am reading about photography under a different light, and I am ready to start re-training myself now that I have switched frames of mind. As I mentioned before, I understand well the basic photographic techniques. I believe I understand my problem. This is what brought me here and lead me to ask the question. The range of answers that have been posted cover quite a bit of ground.

Most people agree that practice will allow me to learn to SEE within the limits of my talent. They emphasize feedback, self and expert constructive criticism, and the development of themes mostly on things are care for and know a lot about.

Developing Your Photographic Eye

Then some more practice. I will follow this advice plus a more personal approach for getting there within the limits of what my current lifestyle allows. I will use photo. There is a lot of talent here and, most of all, a good bunch of people willing to help those of us who foolishly or not believe that somewhere deep we have an eye just waiting to see.

Thanks to all, -Luis. I have been taking photographs for almost 35 years and I don't think I have an artist "eye. I used to teach photography and the rule was if you got a photo published in a magazine during the course you got an A. My assignments included making something ugly look pretty, photographing the crowd and making masterpieces on Polaroid film.

All these assignments are self explanatory and as one student said, "harder than hell at high water! Another thing that most posters missed is knowing your equipment. You have to know what your camera is capable of doing. If you push it beyond the physical limits, you won't get the desired results. However, knowing and using its capabilites to work for you is half the battle. I used to photograph pro and college basketball in Chicago during the 's prior to the championship years. One day I was shooting at the Chicago Bulls, and some of the other photographers came over to me and started slapping me on the back and saying I was a real photographer!

Dumbfounded, I ask what was going on, and one of them said, "You unloaded and loaded your camera a Canon T90 without even looking down at it once! The possibilities are endless, just remember to have fun. Please post some of your results in the comments! Park Bench. Rusty wall. Back alley. Peeling paint on old park bench. Detail of dead tree stump. Moss on tree stump.