Self-reflection – The follow-up

Previously I wrote on self-reflection. To start the year 2015, I want to give you an example of how I am looking to improve, and what my goals are. In this blog I will take a close look at some of my pictures and look for improvements. This is a long read, and actually I have written this for myself. But I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

Where am I now and where do I want to be?

I started doing photography in late 2010. At the time I had no clue on topics like exposure, composition, sharpness, et cetera. Today I have a much bigger understanding of the fundamentals of photography, however my experience is limited to landscape photography, very little street photography (I do not consider myself a street photographer), and shooting family events. I also have a little advanced knowledge on photography: I am learning about hyper-focal distances, complementary colours, and composition. But there is a lot to learn and I have a few pitfalls. One of them is that I am a bit impatient. Thus taking my time and being very conscious about my learning goals is important. Another pitfall is that I tend to focus on a technically correct photo, and lose focus on how to be creative and distinctive.


Windmills in Kinderdijk, The Netherlands. My first landscape photography trip.

Whenever I browse the Popular page of 500px, I find the most stunning pictures, and I want to take pictures like that! Hence my goals for 2015 are:

  • Improve my landscape pictures
  • Improve and do more street photography
  • Start portrait photography

Improve landscape photography

I mainly do landscape photography, but haven´t made that “jaw-dropping picture” like this one, this one, or this one (click). All these pictures have a few things in common:

  1. Sharpness is great
  2. Depth of Field is great
  3. Colours are vivid
  4. There is drama
  5. There always is a nice and clear subject
  6. Composition is good
  7. The light in these photos is pleasant to look at and lead the eye.

When I look at my own landscape photographs there are a few things I like:

  1. Colours are vivid in some shots
  2. I use the rule of thirds
  3. I try to take most out of a situation (light conditions i.e.)

However, there are I few things my pictures I don’t like. I’ll focus on these points in 2015:

  1. Some photos lack sharpness (on the right spot)
  2. To pursuit a large dynamic field or popping colours I sometimes blow-up parts of the pictures
  3. I could use lines and light more to lead the eye
  4. Some photos lack a story or a real subject
  5. My photos are cliche

Improve street photography

Street photography is a style by itself. I don’t do it a lot, but when I do, I somehow do not feel like part of the street, more a spectator of the streets. I want to take pictures that tell the story of a city. Some great examples are found here, here, and here. I like these pictures for multiple reasons:

  1. They tell a story (even when staged), or just a part of a story, leaving the rest to the imagination
  2. Most pictures are high contrast black and white
  3. The photographers look at subjects in a non-orthodox way
  4. There is always a surprising element (fog, smoke, rain, or a funny billboard)
  5. There is always a clear subject

Like said, street photography is not my cup of thee. But during my recent trip to Amsterdam, I liked a few things:

  1. I am improving in telling a story
  2. I am improving using lines
  3. I feel emotionally connect to my picture (is that weird?)
  4. I try to take my time and look at scenes

However there are a few things I want to do better, and I’ll focus on this in 2015:

  1. Some pictures look like pictures of the street, not like street photography
  2. I need to get more comfortable on the streets
  3. Pictures lack a surprising element
Waiting for the tram in Amsterdam

Waiting for the tram in Amsterdam. My first ever try of street photography.

Start portrait photography

I am new to portrait photography. Sure, I have taken pictures of my family, but I have never done a real photo shoot. My goal for 2015 is to do a few photo shoots (at least three) with people I know. I would like to learn to make photos like this, this, this and this. They have in common:

  1. Subject (and eyes) is always sharp
  2. Softness and hardness of light is adjusted to the subject
  3. Models are good looking and the photographer makes the model look good
  4. Usually the photos have shallow depth-of-field
  5. There is a story or the models represent a story
  6. Good composition and no weird “cut-offs” in body parts
  7. No distracting elements around the subject

Understanding the meaning of my goals

If I want to grow in landscape photography there are a few things I need to understand, like how:

  1. to get sharp landscapes with a large depth-of-field (hyper-focal distance)
  2. colours affect pictures
  3. light affects pictures
  4. to add drama in my scenes
  5. to create a composition with a clear subject
  6. to lead the eye with light, colours and composition
  7. to do proper post-processing

For street photography I need to understand how:

  1. to tell an interesting story
  2. to look from an unorthodox point of view
  3. create strong compositions in street photography

To learn portrait photography I need to understand how:

  1. to work with models
  2. to create strong compositions
  3. to connect the viewer to a model (crop, composition, and focal point?)

I am working on it!

Now I know what I need to learn, I’ll work on it.  I have set a few goals which aren’t to ambitious, but suite my private and work live. My goals for 2015 are to do 3 portrait shoots with people I know and at least go on 3 street photography trips. In between I’ll do 3 trips of landscape photography keeping in mind what I want to learn. After each shoot I’ll post a blog how it went and if I get to use my newly learned skills.

Thank you for reading and kind regards,



    • Thank you Teresa 🙂 Unfortunately, holidays are over, and it’s back to work again. But I want to plan my weekend trips to the city!

      Cheers 🙂

  1. JohnAmes

    Well done Tieme, a fine list and one I’m sure you’ll follow.

    • Thank you very much John! I will work on it. However, lately I realized I “fun” is an important factor (aren’t I a quickly learning fellow 😉 ). I feel I always expect myself to improve, at work, and in hobbies. And expecting myself to grow is good, but also adds pressure. Hence, I might shoot some photos the next days just for fun, and don’t care about a technically perfect photo.

      Happy weekend!

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