9 simple ways to improve your photography
Award winning Argentinian photojournalist, Walter Astrada started his career as a staff photographer at the newspaper, La Nacion. After a trip through South America, he joined the Associated Press, in 2005, in Bolivia, and later in Argentina, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic.
For the past 19 years, Astrada he has lived and worked in many countries, working as a photographer for news agencies covering conflicts and creating long-term documentaries on social issues. He has been based on Barcelona since 2006.
Currently, Astrada is riding around the world on a Royal Enfield Motorcycle, armed only with the bare necessities. He gives lectures and workshops based on his long-term projects as a professional photographer and documentary video-maker, and is currently in Australia as part of his world tour. He is holding a number of workshops.
Below he shares his top nine tip to becoming a better photographers.
There are plenty of tips or bits of advice on how to become a better photographer and I honestly don’t know which ones are the ones that make that happen. Beyond dedication and time invested in it, in photography, you can’t take shortcuts, and you shouldn’t try. I’d say that the best thing to do is to be happy while you practice photography and enjoy doing it.
The first bit of advice I got when I started in photography: “If you want to be a professional photographer, never work for free. Working for free does not guarantee that you will ever get jobs. What it does guarantee is that many will want to hire you because your work costs nothing.”
Always have your batteries charged and your cards empty at all times. When you finish your day of shooting, religiously back up your images and organise your archive by date and place where they were taken. It is much better to organise your archive as you are creating it.
Find. Observe. Walk. Run. If you find a place you think could be interesting, but it isn’t because the light at the moment you see it isn’t good, come back to it until you find the image you want. You need to be patient and persevere.
Practice. This means you need to try to take photos every day. I take my camera with me everywhere. I used to do this when covering news stories and I still do this today while I’m on the journey. You never know what can happen.
Observe light. Have patience. Attempt to imagine the shape of the light as the day goes on. If we are going to photograph an event, try to be at the location the day before to see how the light will be on the day of the job.
Do not fear making mistakes. You will, or should, learn from them in order to improve. One needs to change the meaning of the word “success”. To me, success is to try. Among the trials and errors, we will build our own lessons.
Try to be invisible. Blend in. Having a small camera can help with this because gear will not be obvious. Perhaps one of the best tips in order to be a better photographer is not to appear to be one.
Be honest about your intentions. Respect others. You may be one photographer, but it is not difficult to paint all photographers with the same brush. Damaging your reputation by being vague, rude, or untrustworthy will not only make it more difficult for you to do your work, but you will also ruin opportunities for others, and others may suffer, unfairly, for the way you conduct yourself and your work.
Astrada gives lectures and workshops based on his long term projects as a professional photographer and documentary video make. While in Australia, he will be running a number of workshops and events.
Editing, sequencing and portfolio review
This workshop is aimed at photographers or photojournalists that want to develop and/or improve their editing and storytelling tools for photographic stories. Maximum: 10 participants. Duration: 1 day, 10am to 6pm. Locations: Melbourne – 24 September, Sydney – 15 October.
This one-day workshop provides an overview of storytelling approaches while engaging participants in discussion about the most appropriate ways to create a story. Through personal examples of projects, Astrada will share tips and techniques to improve reporting, editing, and distributing your project. This workshop is designed for anyone interested in storytelling. No experience is necessary. Astrada will primarily be showing the core of his long-term project on violence against women, methodology, and theory. In this workshop there is no picture taking.
This workshop is aimed at photographers or photojournalists that want to develop and/or improve their storytelling tools for photographic stories. Maximum: 12 students. Duration: 5 days.
Check the Facebook page for details about lectures coveringDocumentary Photojournalism, The Tour, Astrada’s current project, editing, personal projects, and more.
For Australian tour Information and bookings, contact Sacha Walters on 0418 264 755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Walter Astrada
Walter Astrada was born in 1974 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He started his career as a staff photographer at the local newspaper, La Nacion. After a formative trip through South America, he joined Associated Press (AP) in Bolivia and later in Argentina, Paraguay, and then the Dominican Republic. Astrada worked as a freelancer for Agence France Presse (AFP) in the Dominican Republic from 2005 to 2006, and was represented and distributed by World Picture News. During 2008 and 2009 he covered Eastern Africa, out of Uganda.
Based in Barcelona, Spain, where he continues to work as a freelancer and recently completed two long-term projects, one about violence against women (2006-2012), and the other, the Under Pressure Project, about people with multiple sclerosis in Europe (2010-2013). He is currently travelling around the world on a Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Astrada has won a wide range of awards over the years, including three World Press Photo awards, the Bayeux-Calvados award for war correspondents, Photojournalist of the Year, and Best of Show, from NPPA-BOP, PGB Photographer of the Year and Picture of the Year, a PDN Photo Annual first prize, a number of POYi awards, the Alfred I. du Pont Award for Excellence in Broadcast and Digital Journalism, and Alexia Foundation and Getty Editorial grants, among others.