How to Master Creative Photography

What are the steps that lead the way to the eventual mastery of creative photography? It's a long path, but these are the six processes that  I found to be effective on my five decade long journey.

How far do you want to take your photography?

Do you want to truly master the whole process, or are you happy to use your phone or your camera on one of the semi-auto settings to reach your goals.

The correct answer to this multi faceted question is the one that is right for you.

In this selection of short articles I provide a high level overview of the steps needed to reach your goal, whatever that might be. I've spent fifty years honing my craft, and have overcome many blocks along the way. The six pieces below are offered as a roadmap that you can use to navigate your way ahead.

Want to skip the technical stuff and just shoot better photos?

That's fine, begin at 3: Crafting the Shot. These four features will support you as you track down amazing images. Want to create the very best photos possible? Then start at the beginning and get ready for the longer haul. Already a competent photographer? Check out 4, 5 and 6 for my thoughts on further progressing your creative skills.

The Six Steps of Creative Mastery

In everything we learn there are steps that lead the way.

By following the path that others have trod we can avoid the mistakes they made, jump start our progress and get to our destination in the most efficient, effective manner.

Photography doesn't have to be tough. It doesn't need to be all graft. There is an easier way, one which ensures you maintain the fun aspect of your creative calling, enjoy a sense of fulfillment in your craft and find greater and greater amounts of personal freedom as you hone your skills.

It goes without saying that to truly master photography it's necessary to crack the exposure triangle, to learn the intricacies of hyperfocal distance and depth of field and to become best mates with all the countless technical and technique considerations that come with knowing any creative craft in an intimate manner.

How do you want to do this?

But I know that's not everyone's cup of tea. It's been mine since I was 9. I drank of that particular teapot throughout my youth and carved a career as a professional editorial photographer which has kept my family fed and watered for the decades since. I had to nail the specifics, back in the days of film there was no other way. Manual was the only option, that and a hand held exposure meter and a finger held up to the wind (well almost!).

To create the very best images we need to know the tools, in fact they need to become so familiar that we don't need to think as we use them. Yes this means walking the hard yards, but it can still be fun. Step by step it all becomes clear, just like learning to drive. As we master our kit we can then master the settings and begin to know just what they mean to our results. Aperture, shutter speed, iso all become second nature eventually as does focusing, lens choice, and light direction.

Using a phone camera?

However I know that many of my friends who take really great photos have no interest in the tech, no they simply want to pick up their phone, grab their automatic camera and create. And guess what... that's fine too! Yep, in these days of digital tools there's no need to be pedantic about this. You can shoot award winning, captivating pictures without knowing the first thing about the mysterious workings that are helping you deliver such beauty and power. Your camera's got your back!

So, I speak to you too. Check out the last four lessons above and don't beat yourself up for not wanting to do the technical stuff first. You will still catch amazing photos that will reward you in so many ways.

Where does the fun begin for you...

  • Cracking the exposure triangle?
  • Finally getting razor sharp images?
  • Learning how to compose your shots for more dynamism and punch?
  • Seeking inspiration for your next project?
  • Exploring what you want to say with your photography?
  • Discovering how best to bring them out into the world as real 'things' rather than bits and bytes sat on a hard drive?

Who knows, as you produce better and better shots you may want to back track and learn a little more. As I said at the beginning it is a step by step process, but you can jump on the path right where you like, right where the fun of photography waits for you.

The simple roadmap above will give you some direction as you pursue your photography goals and begin to create better photos, photos that fulfill you, that make you proud to be the photographer you are and that spur you on to become a more creative person.

PS. A little word about mastery.

Mastery of the craft is not the end! No, but it's the place to strive for if you want to be truly eloquent in your chosen creative path. As we reach the heights of our possibilities we can find greater and deeper fulfillment when we have full knowledge of the language of our Muse and the potential that photography offers us.

Fully armed we can share our tales and become the masterful, visual storytellers that the world so badly needs.