Wicked Dark wrote a blog post
about isolating yourself to one or two types of photography and its relationship to selecting a major in university. Her thesis, triggered by a Google+ post
that I started, was that by limiting yourself to one particular type or style of photography you can learn a lot more about that particular type or style and therefore improve a lot more from lessons learned through practice. Go read her post for the details as she explains it much better than I.
Now, add to those thoughts, the conversation I've been having with some of the members of one of the Delete Me Uncensored
groups on Flickr
as a result of my previous blog post
. The general thesis of these group members, and I won't assume it is their only idea for improvement, is that in order to improve your photography you must work hard to take great pictures, put them on Flickr and line them up in front of a firing line for the less than perfect ones to be shot down. In this way you will learn which ones are good and which ones are not so good. This, I suspect is expected to help you improve through process of elimination.
Still others will point you to WhatsHisName's training videos, or ThatOne's photography school, online forum, photography club, etc, etc.
Today I was reminded of something my old karate sensei often said, "there are many roads to the top of the mountain but the view from the top is the same." I'm reasonably sure that he did not originate the quote, however, it's one that has stuck with me over the years and since I associate it with him I'll attribute it to him.
Like photography, there are many ways to teach karate. You can select a single kata (or form) and practice it over and over until you have mastered it and then move on to the next kata or you can learn a number of different kata and practice all of them until you master all of them. Learning more than one at a time may make things very confusing but at the same time a move in one may help you understand a similar move in another.
And this brings us back to photography. While I believe Wicked Dark's thesis has a lot of merit as it will help you get very good at one particular type or style of photography, I also believe that everyone has to find their own photographic path. In my case, I really enjoy photographing nature such as birds, squirrels, and flowers. I also love to do street photography, portrait work, and landscapes. I don't think I could give up any of them to pursue interest in any one specific area.
I'm also not sure that I want to hang my photos on the wall for people to throw darts at them in the DMU groups on Flickr. I said I'd never be back again but something keeps drawing me in...and it appears as though I'll give it another try.
The path I take up the mountain may be circuitous but it is my photographic path
and after all it's not so much about reaching the top as it is about the journey. I hope this post helps you find your path.