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How Journal Writing improves your photography

The post How Journal Writing Improves Your Photography first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

The obvious way to improve your photography is to study photography. But once you have had some success with the most important principles of photography, you will love to go deeper and learn more from photographers, you will not get there. Instead of gaining more and more knowledge, you first have to delve deeper into what you already have.

writing a magazine for photographers

Use diary writing to pull yourself out of a rut as a photographer.

Journal writing is the best way to go deeper with your photography. By writing a diary you discover what you are struggling with, improve your creative vision and measure your growth over time.

Great thinkers from history have kept some diary. A diary is like a laboratory where you can get messy with your thoughts, vision and creativity. You can work things out in the pages of your diary and bring them to life in the real world.

Journal writing takes you into a deeper creative mindset, allowing you to do much more with the photography skills you have learned. The problem is that many photographers are not sure what to write in their diaries.

Here are different ways to use your diary to achieve a deeper creativity with photography:

1. Don't worry about good writing

writing a magazine for photographers

Let your diary be a complete wreck.

If good writing comes easy for you, go ahead and write well in your journal. But if writing is not easy for you, try not to write well.

You do not write for the sake of writing, you write to stimulate your creativity and improve your photography.

"There are a thousand thoughts in a man he doesn't know until he picks up the pen to write." – William Makepeace Thackeray

2. Write to get rid of the tracks

As photographers we are occasionally in a rut. We become dissatisfied with our photography, our photos don't irritate us anymore and we don't start to like the camera. If this hasn't touched you yet, be ready. It seems to come from nowhere and can be devastating.

Keys ensure that you stop unless you know how to get out. Your diary is the perfect place to do that.

In the beginning it will be difficult to be honest with yourself as you write. You always hide what you really think of other people, and it is rare that you really go deep into your own thinking process. But you have to be honest to get yourself out of a rut.

I hit a rut a few years ago and discovered these things about myself by writing a diary:

  • I have no vision
  • Photos I love the most feeling raw
  • I wish I could be a kid again with a camera
  • The idea behind a photo is more interesting than the photo itself
  • I am so uncomfortable when it comes to people
  • Chaotic photo sessions are my favorite
  • Unless I work, I no longer record my camera
  • The things that excited me didn't do that
  • I don't know what to say about my photos
  • Do I hate photography?

As many of those thoughts sound negative, I learned a lot from them.

I learned that I like to explore the world with my camera. There is joy in finding a chaotic scene, searching for patterns, and then bringing some order or beauty to the scene through my photos.

Sometimes you have negative feelings than you think for various reasons. I didn't really hate photography, I only had blocks that I didn't know how to pass. Once I got things on paper, I could see what stood in my way.

In the middle of my photography routine, I took a camping trip with friends. I decided to just follow the children and join the play with my camera. By being able to do what I want, even by investigating crazy ideas, all that frustration and hatred for photography seemed to melt away.

simplicity in photography

For me, simple things like children who eat dirty are a pleasure to photograph. I have enclosed the entire door of the trailer to make it look smaller.

I came closer to see that he was in the mud.

Eventually I pulled back and dropped to a lower corner to make the shoe mat a part of the scene.

If there is something that really frustrates you with your photography, or if you have a vague sense of disappointment in your work, writing in your journal can help you identify your specific frustrations.

3. Follow your improvement

If you do not keep track of your improvement, you have no idea how you are doing.

When you keep track of a goal, it is better to measure how far you have come instead of how far you have to go. It can be daunting to look ahead at how far you have to go, but encouraging to see how far you have come.

By following your improvement, you can better understand how far you have come on your journey. Many people are simply discouraged because they cannot see how far they have come. Write it down so you can see it.

I felt stagnant with my photo sessions in my family, so I started to follow how I felt, what went well, what went wrong, and ideas I had to improve.

detail shot

I thought of Robert Capa's idea: "If your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough." I came to that teeter-waddling as good as I could.

4. Clarify your vision

"Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." – Jonathan Swift

Vision is an aspect of photography that very few people are concerned with.

We can see with our eyes and organize our photo according to the rule of third parties, but how do you see things that are invisible? How do you put invisible things in your photo?

By writing in my diary I could see the invisible things that I already like to photograph.

Spontaneity, chaos and clumsiness are not things that you can see, although they can be expressed visually. It is in the fleeting expression that gives a portrait subject, the unpredictable nature of toddlers, even in the ability to push and photograph a bridezilla well.

Prior to the news I had no vision – after a news (for a few months) I could finally do it see. My vision is about bringing order and beauty through raw, chaotic scenarios through my photography

You can take your photography to new places and new levels as soon as you have a vision. You will get a vision if you write about invisible things and see them in front of you.

I am pretty sure that you are not allowed to photograph these moments. But "accidentally falling into the water" is just the kind of awkward moment I'm looking for. Everything to get out of a rut.


Keep a list of your favorite photography quotes, they are probably an indication of who you are as a photographer.

About improvement

"Your first 10,000 photos are your worst." – Henri Cartier-Bresson

"If your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough." – Robert Capa

"The eye must learn to listen before it looks." – Robert Frank

"I don't just look at the thing itself or at reality itself; I look at the edges for those little crooked moments – a bit like what makes our lives – those somewhat uncomfortable, beautiful moments." – Keith Carter

About portraits

"The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You must try to place your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt." – Henri Cartier-Bresson

"When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothing. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!" – Ted Grant

On the camera

"The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera." – Dorothea Lange

"For me, the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity." – Henri Cartier-Bresson

"The camera is an excuse to be somewhere where you would otherwise not belong." – Susan Meiselas

"Do not pack your camera until you have left the location." – Joe McNally

About the nature of photography

"I tend to think of photography, generally speaking, as an adventure. My favorite thing is to go where I have never been." – Diane Arbus

"Taking photos ' s is like walking ' late on tiptoe into the kitchen and stealing Oreo cookies." – Diane Arbus

"The mission of photography is to explain people to people and every man to himself." – Edward Steichen

"I realize more and more what it takes to be a really good photographer. You go above your head, not just up to your neck." – Dorothea Lange

Your favorite quotes are an indication of who you are as a photographer, and they will help you see that you are not alone in your approach to photography.

A great moment.

photography quote

A bit uncomfortable, beautiful moments.

6. Dream the future

Dream big on the pages of your diary. While you are busy, dream to big. After having dreamed too much for a while, you will be much better able to do the great things you never thought before.

You already work through frustration and follow your progress towards goals. This means that you learn to create the process that helps you realize those (too) big dreams.

Perhaps you have the wild idea of ​​making a long journey and documenting your journey. You have activated yourself on the ' s pages of your journal. But is it realistic in real life? Probably not. Can you do that? to afford the? Can you do that? handle the? Unlikely.

Go ahead and feel the frustration of dreams too big, and make that dream disappear. Feel it until you realize it as a deep frustration. Work through that frustration in your diary now. Fight your way to make it really.

Thanks to my diary, I have almost signed the lease for an expensive studio space. But went backwards at the last minute. I had dreamed a little too big.

Since then, however, I have grown a lot as a photographer. I continued to process my frustrations and weaknesses. One of the problems was that I didn't have a good vision for the studio. So I have refined my vision and established a community of amateurs and professionals with whom I will share my studio. I am now building something that is already alive and ready for a studio.

I dreamed too big. But now I grow fast in that dream thanks to my diary.

7. Do not write at all

Your diary is not just for words – but also sketches in it. Even if you can't do it well, a basic sketch can help you capture an idea that you have for a photo. Don't worry about buying good pencils and a sketch pad. Just put everything in your journal.

You can even consider taking your ' sketch photo ' s ' to save in your journal. Sketch photos ' s are the photos you take while taking your final photo. Sketch photos ' s are a way to photograph a scene in different ways and make subtle changes until you get your photo right. Sometimes the process takes a few minutes, but it can take months or years.

The perfect diary

Many people will avoid writing until they find the perfect journal. They are waiting for a diary that inspires them to write. Perhaps a hand-made, leather-bound diary with beautifully structured paper. After purchasing such a beautiful diary, they still can't write. Don't let this be you. You don't need a nice diary, you just have to map out your thoughts (get the nice diary later).

You don't have to feel good about diaries. In fact, if you feel miserable, writing a diary may be more useful. Take it out and record it. Confront it and start growing as a photographer.

The perfect diary is messy, full and always in use. And it will help you to become a better photographer.

The post How Journal Writing Improves Your Photography first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

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