I've put this page together to tell people how someone with no formal training in photography can develop their interest into a passion.
The process started about 1994 when I was the President of the local branch of the National Parks Association. I remember standing in front of the group of about 40 people at our monthly meeting and thinking to myself that there was only about 5 people in the room ever to have seen or likely to see the reasons for their belonging to the organisation - the remote wilderness of our national parks.
It was then I decided to devote my time in the bush to photography. The problem was I was a very ordinary photographer.
Because I had a family and a small business I did not have the time to devote to formal education.
In summary, what I did was: joined a local camera club, joined a national camera club, attended an evening course, read a lot of books, took a lot of photos, explored the internet and most importantly took a lot of notes and evaluated.
Camera Clubs. Can be good source of knowledge, note - can be. In my case I sat up the back for the first few months and watched. They usually have a monthly competition night and regular guest lecturers. Like most clubs they are only as good as what the members are willing to commit to. A lot of the work exhibited can be of very high standard. The quality of the judging can be very erratic but they are a good place to start. My experience is that wilderness photography does not rate highly in judging. If you strike a group of "politicians", take heart, they are not all like that, find another group.
National/Correspondence Camera Clubs. These can be very good; especially if location or time is a problem.
A great idea is the folio round. This is a group of about eight photographers who send off a selection of slides to each other for assessment. The photos all arrive at the same time, you have about a week to look at them, comment and give a score. Much better than camera club competition nights. Some groups take about three months for a folio to circulate, eg. The Australian Photographic Society (APS), and other groups about a month, eg. The Australian Portfolio Photographic Society (APPS).
The APS also has an extensive library of written study material and print and slide collections that are available to borrow.
National/International Competitions. Usually run by people associated with camera clubs. The standard here is world class. Those that actively persue these competitions find there is a lot of work involved. Basically, you send off your print or slide. Just getting an acceptance is often considered an honour. I haven't entered any myself. Perhaps if I spent less time on web site publishing I might.
Evening Colleges. Not many devoted to Wilderness Photography but they are a good place to meet like minded people. The only one I did was over eight weeks and was very well run, by a retired professional photographer. I did learn a few tricks that I would not have picked up from reading a book.
Books. Probably the best place to learn. It requires discipline, though. What I mean is that note taking and thinking about how to apply the ideas is mandatory. I will shortly publish a list of the books that have been of help to me.
The Internet. The best place to find things. Take your time to explore here, it will save you a lot of time. If you publish your work on the net and are not arrogant you will make some good friendships with some very good photographers. I spend a lot of time at www.flickr.com.
Take Photos. Take lots of photos. Look at them critically. Make notes. Analyse why they worked and did not work.
For a record of what I learnt go to my Lessons Learnt page.
Any text and images found on this web page are copyright © Geoff Wise, 1998 - 2009. All rights reserved.