How Have You Grown?

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One of the things that I appreciate the most about my Flickr photostream is the growth that I can see emerging in my photographic abilities. I’ve maintained a Flickr membership since February of 2006, and have had an on-line presence since 2000. Throughout, I have taken thousands upon thousands of photographs, and have had several different kinds of cameras. Occasionally I like to browse back through my archives and reminisce.

It’s all about growth.

I used to feel it necessary to “touch up” nearly every picture that I took. Everything needed to be sharper, bolder, vignetted or actioned. I had crooked horizons, over-contrasted adjustments, and a whole heck of a lot of “no-no’s”. For instance, oh, look at this poor shot of Cannon Beach in Oregon, taken in 2007:

The humanity! Crooked horizon, contrasted to the point of being surreal, complete disregard for the rule of thirds… it makes me laugh, now.

I never shot in RAW, and sometimes shot in low-quality JPEG just so I could fit more pictures on my memory card. I had more faith in my Photoshop skills (negligible though they were, see above) than I had in my photography skills. I would address photo-taking with an eye toward fixing it later, rather than getting it right the first time.

I can say with complete honesty that I have grown a great deal. It has been five years since I started taking photography very seriously, with an eye toward making it my profession. With every day that passes, with every click of the shutter, I am more firmly based in my knowledge of photography principles and methods. Now, more often than not, the pictures that I share are straight out of the camera (like the very first shot at the beginning of this entry, and the one directly above – two new favorites of mine). I see fewer mistakes, and great improvements in my composition.

My one-year anniversary for writing for Beyond Megapixels is on the 18th of this month. In this year alone, I have grown in great leaps and bounds, and have gone further in my photography expertise than I ever thought I would. This just proves my personal theory that you learn so much more when you teach others. Thank you all so much for providing me with the opportunity.

How have you grown as a photographer? What improvements have you seen emerge over time as you practice your skills and continue to learn? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo credits (for better or worse): Tiffany Joyce.

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  • Steve Russell

    Excellent article. You've asked a question that we all should pause and ask ourselves much more frequently than we do.

  • Bill Booz

    Tiffany, once again great post! Ironically, this is something I have been thinking about recently and have tried, as I work my way through my first “365 days” project (, reflecting now and then about why I shoot what I shoot, to pin point my growth areas. One that I share with you is a greater desire to get it right in the camera! Especially with regards to contrast and richness of color, as I have found that is always the first thing I was boosting when I started post processing my images. I think that is happening more for me now as I learn more about how to take advantage of the exposure triangle, etc. The other area is in what I am shooting. I have been trying to be more thoughtful before I trip the shutter. I have found that having a theme or purpose for taking my shots helps, too. I am fortunate to be able to travel a lot and I find I tend to take a lot of the same “type” of shots on all my trips. More documentary, i.e., “I was here” kind of shots. For future trips (Portugal in September), I hope to get more series of story-telling shots. Key is: growth should never stop!

  • Gail

    Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary here!! I love coming here and reading about so many different topics, I have learned alot! Thank you, thank you!!

  • jessicaoei

    Great post, Tiffany! I would feel really happy as a photographer to be able to see my progress in flickr pictures. :)

    I think the ways I've grown in photo has been becoming more patient and persistent in getting the shot. And also my post-processing skills have definitely improved also, for sure!! I didn't know I had to sharpen my photos, and then I would get frustrated that they looked slightly blurred at the edged.

    Congrats on your 1-yr anniversary coming up!

  • Biswajit Dey Photoblog

    Thanks for this quality writing! I also agree that the growth as a photographer is important. At the same time, the growth should not be only focussed on the number of clicks I make, rather the number of good clicks that I make. To me, the growth as a photographer is indicated by the ratio of the number of good/presentable/decent clicks to the number of total clicks made on a single photo episode. As teh number grows, you will see that you are growing. As for example, this series( has got the above ratio of 15/230, which comes close to 6.5%. This is my way of measuring my growth as a photographer.

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