Often, great photography takes a trained eye and some mad skills. While most of us don’t need to be professional-caliber shutterbugs, even the most amateur photographers should be able to snap lovely shots of the important times in their lives.
Learning about photography doesn’t mean expensive classes or complicated equipment. In fact, spending just a little time on Tumblr can teach you about both the technical and the creative sides of the art.
Whether you want to break into the biz or just capture selfies to rival Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar hit, here’s how Tumblr can teach you to be a better photographer.
1. Follow other photographers.
Observe what other people are doing in the art world. Keeping tabs on other photographers whose work you admire will be a constant source of inspiration and ideas.
Don’t just glance at their images and scroll on. Take some time to analyze the technical reasons why a photo is so beautiful. Look at the composition, the colors and the lighting. What’s the depth of field? Does it look like he added post-processing or filters? Being able to think critically about the photos you see is the first step to creating ones of your own.
Professionals aren’t the only ones whose work can be educational. Amateur photos are just as useful, especially since they show just how expressive you can be without loads of expensive equipment. Any image-heavy blog with pictures that move you is a good place to start.
2. Ask questions.
Tumblr’s “Ask” feature can be a great resource. Check whether your favorite photographers have it enabled and see what they have to say. When you find a really striking photo, ask the artist how she captured it. What kind of camera and lens does she use, how much prep did she put into a shoot? Where does she get her ideas?
Many artists are happy to share insights with fans or aspiring up-and-comers.
3. Find inspiration everywhere.
Inspiration shouldn’t be limited to the photo field. Round out your Tumblr account by following people who have zero interest in photography. You can see interesting use of color and shapes in a graffiti blog. Fashion and street style blogs can give you ideas on how to pose and create shapes.
Find people who share your interests outside photography and see what they’re thinking about. Drawing on other art forms you enjoy can help you develop a unique personal style.
4. Search wisely.
In theory, Tumblr’s tag system makes it easy to look through a huge volume of material and find exactly the type of post you want. In practice, it’s still a chore to wade through every single post labeled “photography.” To make the most of your queries, think of more specific or unusual searches. Search for the specific camera model you have or for a photo magazine you enjoy.
If you want an easy place to start, check out the spotlighted Tumblrs. These are usually some of the platform’s most successful and popular blogs, so the quality might be better than a search. The network has separate sections for photographers and photography, so something is likely to catch your eye.
5. Share your photos.
Don’t just lurk on Tumblr. If you aren’t already active on the network, get to posting. Especially if you link your posts to other social networks, you can get your work in front of a sizable audience.
Publicly sharing your work is also a good lesson in feedback. Figure out whose opinions you trust and take in what they say. Pro tip: Even though it makes you feel awesome, good feedback is more than “I love it!” If you really want to improve, you’ll quickly learn how to parse which comments are helpful and which come from trolls. You’ll develop a thicker skin, which is a must if you want to take your photography to a professional level.
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