The process of learning photography is not easy. Ask any of the professionals who have made statements, and not just a living in the medium. The process is different for each person, but uniformly, this process has much to do with self-evaluation and especially introspection. Most professionals will agree on one thing: they took a lot of images before they ever started to consider themselves as "good" at their craft. Even then, though, is there a point when photographers make the jump from being able to edit out only stellar images and then believe they can produce stellar images on demand? This leap in self-awareness may not be evident, even for the advanced amateur, so we asked several of Canon's Explorers of Light the question: "How did you know when you were becoming a good photographer?"
"I believe that it was when I succeeded at doing something which was from a new, personal point of view -- saying something that wasn't being said at the time. Whether it was my 8x10 Polacolor portraits, my fashion, my film commercials or my flowers. Since I'm self-taught, it was always my particular point of view that allowed me to bend all those different formats and techniques to express that view. Being a fashion photographer for so long, establishing a vocabulary with a select crew to express my point of view was necessary to make the magic that is fashion photography. When it all comes together and you've created something magical, you realize that you have directed something intangible into a finished symphony..." Barbara Bordnick Website
"I started to realize that I was 'good' (and by that I mean in a sense only to me, not in an egotistical positioning against other photographers), when my images slowly, and at long last, began to match the power of my dreams. In short, to me being good means being able to bring to life the photographic visions in my head. I certainly don't always achieve this, but I'm doing it more consistently now." Tyler Stableford Website
"I've never looked at photography that way. It's always a question of just simply doing your best...of always trying harder, and realizing it's very easy to let yourself down. So I don't think in terms of "good or bad"; rather, that I'm lucky to be shooting and I should always give it my best shot. Once you start thinking you're good, chances are you're not." Eric Meola Website
"Years ago I shot weddings and portraits, enjoying the connection and interaction with people. As I improved, my confidence grew. However, my true passion was nature photography. At first I didn’t have faith in my abilities or potential, viewing my images as little more than the sunsets and Ansel Adams tropes everyone takes, and over time I added to my skills and refined my vision. Although uncertain that I was ready, I mounted a landscape exhibit in 1999. This was the turning point. The exhibit received a warm reception, and photographers I respected praised my landscape images. The icing on the cake arrived later when I received a call from Canon executives asking if I would agree to be part of the Explorer of Light program. I screamed with excitement. He said, "I take that as a yes." Jennifer Wu Website
I firmly believe that you are as good as your last job and the day you forget that, it is all over. Bresson once said that your first 10,000 photographs are your worst and Imogen Cunningham and Jay Maisel have always said that their favorite photograph is the one that they are going to take tomorrow. With all this as a preface, I guess that when I really felt something inside that made me know my images were working, that is when I knew I was good. Financially I recognized the answer to this question when I was turning down work left and right because I was just too busy. From where I stand at this moment I can also say that there are days that I feel good about my images and still days that I am frustrated by my images. I shoot every single day and carry a camera with me at all times and I do that in part because I simply love photography. Seth Resnick Website