Photography Students / by Michael Jin

© 2017 Michael Jin

As I walk down the street, it feels like I can almost always pick out a into-level photography student when I see them. More often than not, they tend to carry around way more gear than seems necessary. A lot of times, they are sporting a cheap film camera (generally sub-$100) or entry-level DSLR that's a few generations old around their neck and more often than not, they're leading some poor female friend around to take shots of them in ways that make your head scratch as it all occurs in front of you. Sometimes I pause and watch, trying to figure out what might be going through their heads as they inevitably start searching for some dramatic angle to make their photo interesting.

I suppose I'm more sensitive to it since I'm not all that far removed from it myself. Granted, my film cameras are a bit more expensive as is my DSLR, and although I use a much more sensible sling strap for my cameras, I still have a terrible habit of carrying around way more gear than I reasonably need at any given moment, which my wife will attest to. I still find myself constantly experimenting to make up for my lack of pre-visualization skills and I'll certainly still try out the dramatic angle or clichè shot on occasion on occasion just because "maybe it will work this time".

© 2017 Michael Jin

Hint: It usually doesn't.

I think my fascination with watching other photo students is the fact that it so often looks like looking into a strange time-machine mirror. Of course there's a certain degree of variance, but it's amazing how so many of us coming from such different backgrounds can go through the same struggles and the same patterns of behavior in our development. It makes me wonder about generations past. Did they also go through the rounds of taking the same terrible shots?

Anyway, I just wanted to talk about this a bit because I ran across that top photo in my Lightroom catalog and it brought up the memory of that day. If you're a photography student just starting out, don't be discouraged when you develop those negatives and see atrocious photos. It's just part of the process of learning so accept that you're likely going to be taking horrible photos for a very long time (with hopefully a few lucky strikes in-between to keep you motivated) before you finally learn to take some good ones. The important thing is to constantly be open to experimenting and, more importantly, LEARNING from those experiments. You can read all of the books, take all of the classes, and watch every single video tutorial that you want, but there's only one way that you'll really improve. And that's by continuing to press that shutter button and push those frames.

© 2017 Michael Jin