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First in a New Series by Rick Henderson

You have a camera, you’ve practiced the different settings on lenses, the flash & lighting, and now you want to be the best photographer in town.  To do that you’ve got to be better than the photographers you know and/or admire, or your art has to win some competitions and people have to “oooh and ahhh” over your hard-earned labors when you show it off, right?

We actually stalked this one. Sunset at Mt Saint Michel, France. One of my favorites.

WRONG.  Just plain wrong.  You and everyone else on the planet have their own definition of what is “the best”.   If you’ve ever entered an art show or competition where a juror/judge comes in to evaluate each piece and award ribbons or prizes, you know that no matter what you enter, these jurors/judges each have their own opinions of what is “Best”.  And It probably won’t match yours or even, perhaps,, anyone else’s opinion. 

I first saw the vivid colors, waited to get the
framing I wanted and captured Monet’s
famous green bridge in Giverny, France.

Have you ever strolled through an art show after the ribbons have been awarded and thought “How did THAT win a ribbon?”.  If your definition of “The Best” is dependent on someone else’s opinion you may be going around in circles trying to find your own place in the world of photography.

We live in an area with many contrails.
Saw this one coming, grabbed the camera
and captured the cross during a sunset.

As you grow in your art, developing your own unique style may or may not happen… I’ve been shooting film since ’79, eventually “graduating” into the digital world, and the only thing I’ve noticed about my “style” is that I’m not really a “people photographer”.  I prefer to shoot places, landscapes, architecture, animals, or things.  I do, however, take some pretty good shots of people just being people but if you want a portrait – get someone else.

I’m at a time in my life where I travel a great deal and shoot anything and everything I think may be a good shot.  If I keep 10% of my photos after I review them, I’ve had a good day.

I’ve also been told that I take GREAT postcard photos.  So, I checked out my files and yes, a great many of them do look like postcards.  Too bad no one uses postcards anymore.  BUT… if I like the shot, I keep it.  It’s my art, and I’ll do what I like.

And THAT is the key to becoming a good photographer, shoot what you like the way you like it.  You really aren’t in competition with other photographers because they don’t do YOUR art.   

If you don’t know what you like – EXPERIMENT!!   Drive down the road and shoot anything that catches your eye, take a hike and see what happens, try still life or flowers, birds, animals, fruits, or landscape.

Driving along Skyline Drive on a late afternoon in fall. We saw the sunset coming and started looking for a tree to capture the full moon in all it’s glory.

The more photos you shoot the better you know your camera and preferences.  The more photos you edit & evaluate the better you know what to do next time.  (It will always come back to the old saying “Practice, Practice, Practice”.)

Anything is possible, just keep your eyes open and try it!

When you get through your head that you are the artist and this is your art, you will realize that you’re not only a good photographer but one of the best on the planet.