Photography is filled with experiences that are worth trying. They are vastly enriching, and many go beyond the mere act of pressing the shutter button. Here I’ll describe several activities that I think can correctly be called Magnificent Experiences in photography. This list is not presented by hierarchy, but is simply a combination of experiences I have tried that have added great romance to my love of photography. Please feel free to share your Magnificent Experiences in Photography with us in the comments section.
Printing your work
During my early work with Point and Shoot cameras, printing was the great moment at the end of collecting images. Everything was new, therefore I was clumsy as hell, and I printed my first images at a supermarket express thingy on 4x6 "photographic glossy paper". Even though the quality of the prints was seppuku-worthy, they brought me great joy.
I've become a bit more technical and systematic when it comes to printing my work. Every time I finish uploading work to an album on my website, I print it as well within a couple of days, for my own satisfaction. I invest in two types of prints. The first set is pretty poor quality, but I do it just to see the images physically and to showcase them when friends and relatives come home. The second type of print is the best I can get in my country, and the quality is amazing. It is so fantastic that I don't feel ridiculous manipulating them with latex gloves. They are worth it. These prints are reserved for my portfolio and for selling.
Seeing your best images, your most beloved ones, come alive on paper is an experience from another world. Every passionate photographer should try this, not just once, but constantly, as part of their workflow. I'm even considering investing in a good (but still domestic) printer to take this experience to the next level.
Photo Walks are a liberating experience. Getting together in a social event whose main purpose is photography is great, and doing it while practicing your art seems perfect to me. On photo walks you get to experience walking the streets safely, with peers who will share with you their vision and their goal for being there with a camera.
Many great tips have been given to me during these photo walks. I have also tried to help people when I felt I could.
Some photo walks conclude at a friendly meeting place where the participants share their shots and ask questions. The ambience at the end of a photo walk is a mix of pride and glory, mixed with a share of wise philosophy.
I love photo walks that break down into little clans or groups. As photographers we need our space – and sometimes it is huge. But it’s great to share terrain with people who understand and respect your own photographic philosophy.
So whenever you hear about a local photo walk, give it a shot. You may like it, or not, but it’s definitely an experience worth trying.
Gathering with a group of photographers can boost your technical and cultural knowledge. Photo clubs have the peculiarity of being formed by photographers with different skills and niche specializations.
Getting involved with a club can be truly worthwhile because of this. You can get access to other photographers’ workflow and valuable feedback that you’d have a hard time finding in online forums or similar groups.
The way in which we showcase our photographs has evolved thanks to the modern dynamics of the internet and Social Media. Sometimes we post images expecting to get valuable feedback, and we just receive lazy comments that in most cases circle around gear. They rarely go beyond "great shot" or something similar.
The great experience of critiquing goes in both ways, giving and receiving. Getting structured and nurturing critique on hard-won work is extremely satisfying. We need to have an open mind and consider applying the advice that other photographers can offer us in order to improve our skills. Giving valuable feedback and critiquing the work of other photographers is very satisfying as well.
A great way to get involved with this form of commenting on images – beyond the non-valuable feedback of social media – is through the disciplined platform of 1X.com. You should try it sometime. It’s a great way to get better at photography, and they require you to write 3 well-structured critiques in order to post one image into the pool. It is slow, I know – but what's the rush? Growing in a discipline requires time and patience.
Teaching others about photography
Don't be selfish. Try to encourage more people to get involved with photography. When somebody asks for advice, be a good sport and share your knowledge. Sharing is caring.
Buying photo books
There is a time when buying gear reaches a certain limit, and you start to invest in something less fragile and full of knowledge and passion. Photo books are the summit for many photographers, and buying these pieces of work will bring you some magnificent photographic thrills. From the smell of the paper to the tones of the printing, and the images that you hardly ever see on the internet, photo books are the best place to seek inspiration (for me, there’s no doubt about it).
Film is the king of photographic magnificent experiences. You must try shooting with it. I’ll divide this one into three parts, because each has its own magic:
- Shooting on film
You have 36 exposures before you need to change a roll of film. You need to think wisely before pressing the shutter button, you can't change your ISO, and to make things more interesting, you can't see the image after pressing the shutter button. All these elements result in a completely different way of shooting – and believe me, this is the best exercise if you want to improve your good shots/shots taken ratio.
- Developing film
To develop film you need to prepare your chemicals, get to the right temperature, follow instructions, and do some exercise with your hands. And don't forget that you need to get the film out of the can in complete darkness and twist the wheel of the development tank. Pretty hard, huh? But totally worth it. The most valuable experience will be when you pull your developed film, after the final rinse, off of the reel. Here’s when you see your images for the first time, in a long strip of 36 exposures. There’s nothing more beautiful than this. It makes me smile all the time (except when I've been sloppy and ruined everything).
- Making prints
If that wasn't enough, printing film is even more magical. I don't have as much experience here, but I've done it a couple of times with all the chemicals prepared. Trust me: seeing your image appearing in a positive form on a floating piece of paper is just unbelievable.