The other day I was talking about Photography to my brother in law. He does motion graphics, mainly in advertising. He is one of the best, if not the best in Latin America. Toyota, Honda, Microsoft, what ever. You name it, he did it. He is a very gifted and smart guy, not only in his field, but beyond.

So we were talking about several things. The differences between film and photo (See part of my take on the subject here). Why we both feel compelled by what we do. About ideas or approaches we like. Sources to learn and study from (I’m going to write on the subject in the future). About the equipment we use or we would like to use etc.

And then we talked about his progress in learning Photography (He started out about a year ago) and we ended up talking about how we both understand certain things within the art. How important it is to not only learn your trait but others too. How you should take what you do (in my case Photography) and branch out from there.

Not just for the purpose of learning about another art, but most certainly for learning about your art. How you should study painting, to better understand how composition works and why it is so important. How you should try yourself in 3-D animation in order to get an understanding of how physics work. Because in 3-D animation you have to add everything by your self, gravity, light, reflection. Plus you have to tell those how they should interact with one another. This gets you thinking really quick about things you have not or you didn’t consciously so far. To work with sculpturing and plastic art to grasp better how materials work. Why does it matter what something is made of in terms of surface quality? How animating characters helps you to focus on and transmit/capture human emotion.

If you press that shutter button you should not only be thinking about the fact that you have your basic settings some what in range to get a decent exposure. You should ask your self :

Why did I arrange my frame like this?

Why did I choose the perspective I’m shooting from? And why am I not shooting from another one?

Is this the best Angle to capture the light?

Does this bring out the shape or material the way I want it or should I be changing my source of light?

What source of light am I using in the first place? And what do I know about it?

Can I transmit this three dimensional scene into a two dimensional picture?

Those are just some of the possibilities, and like always there is way more to it than I can write about and probably know of.

You don’t have to take all of those steps every time you take a picture. Otherwise you would miss the moment sometimes. But it is good to do so from time to time. Especially when you want to draw the focus on a certain special aspect.

And by doing so you will ingrain those habits, of thinking about what is really going on in your picture, into your brain. So later on, when you take a similar picture or a picture in a similar situation, you won’t be bothering with them any more because you already made the right decision without even noticing or thinking about it. Because you have done so a thousand times before.

So how can you learn about those things? The easiest way isĀ  to go to the next art gallery and look at some art. Different art. Things you usually don’t look at. Learn why being complex is so intriguing and sometimes went wrong (in your opinion!). Why simplicity works so well with certain things. How colours work. Don’t just go there and look at the stuff but really look at it and think about the decisions the artist made for this work of art to turn out the way it did.

You can buy some books on various topics, for instance how to draw facial expressions in cartoons or manga. You can take a course at a local art collage. What ever you do,

Study Art!