One of the main goals of the monthly Readers Photo Challenge is to have you go out and actually take some pictures. Occasionally, someone will come up to me and say that they like the tips that are given in this column, but they can’t take good pictures. To that I say, “practice, practice, practice.”

Photography is a practical art and there’s only so much you get out of reading a book or taking an online class about it. You need hands-on experience for things to sink in.

Some people think their photos aren’t improving, so they give up. I think part of the problem that many people think that they should be perfect right from the start, that they shouldn’t make mistakes. But often, we learn when we make those mistakes. It could be that people are afraid of looking foolish or ignorant. But to really learn something, especially when you’re first starting out, there are no dumb questions, as they say. As Ms. Frizzle from the children’s program “The Magic School Bus” would say, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”

Another part of the problem is that change comes incrementally. Often we don’t notice our improvement because it happens so slowly.

My wife is currently taking piano lessons once a week. She then does some additional practice on her own during the rest of the week. She, like everyone else, has a busy life with work and other obligations, so she isn’t always able to practice as much as she likes and her progress has been slow. However, progress has been made. Now, as I hear her practice from the other room, she is much better than when she started. But she thinks her skills have been stagnant, and even though she’s not at concert-pianist level yet, I can tell that she’s better than before.

I realize that everyone has busy lives and that you can’t go out to take pictures every day, but don’t be discouraged. If you keep at it, progress will come, perhaps slowly, but it will come.

The great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that “your first 10,000 pictures are your worst.” You’re going to take a lot of bad pictures before they start getting good. It’s just a part of the learning process.

 

Contact photographer Clifford Oto at (209) 546-8263 or coto@recordnet.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/otoblog.