What makes photography such a strange invention is that its raw materials are Light and Time

~ John Berger

Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

Let me just dive into this:

Learning New Things

Of course, this article must begin with the universal agreement that life if full of lessons and when we stop learning, we stop living. So yes… photography has afforded me the opportunity to constantly learn new things and thus, stay alive. Rarely a day has gone by where I am not learning something about photography gear, techniques, lighting, or the business of it. I even learn when I teach. It’s hard to know everything there is to know about photography. You can be an expert, a professional, or a popular speaker on the subject and there is still so much more to take in. 

I recall Richard Harrington of Photofocus, who spoke with me after one of his classes at Photoshop World. It caught me off guard, because he was asking about my opinions. He wasn’t there trying to “bless” people with his wisdom, but rather to impart knowledge while seeking different ideas for his own improvement. I dig that. Keep learning. Stay on top of your game. READ! Sign up for online workshops on that one thing you are weakest at. Teach the things you are strong on. 

Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

Learning How to Mitigate Mistakes

In life, mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes, you can play it off and act like nothing’s the matter. Other times, you are forced to own up to it, reshoot, or admit defeat. The real trick is to minimize those mistakes. One of the constant lessons throughout my time on Earth has been to practice, rehearse, and learn more in order to make the big mistakes early. With investing, you may screw up and lose all your money. But losing all your money early on, when you have $1,000 to your name is much easier than losing $100,000 later on in your career. 

I like to spend hella time practicing, experimenting, and exploring ideas to see what works. It helps me be creative and spot new ideas. Not everything pans out, but you learn from it. I learn most from models who let me experiment and sometimes nothing comes out the way I planned. Nevertheless, they are patient with me and allow me to take chances and see what happens. Aren’t there also times when you took a hit because of a mistake and then it somehow turned into a blessing? I owned up to a problem with a client once regarding equipment failure that was my fault. Thankfully, it was a multi-location project shot over several days, so I requested a reshoot on one of them. She appreciated my honesty and recommended me to her friend on a higher paying gig. Acknowledge a problem, but fix it and then blow their minds! Sometimes, you have to bite the bullet and work with what you have. With the right attitude, you can still come out on top. So mitigate mistakes with practice so that you can avoid big mistakes later in your career.

“Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise.”

George Gershwin

Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

Learning to Appreciate Different Perspectives

Everybody sees the same thing differently than you do. Good photography is all about composition. Good composition is all about perspective. We can shoot the same thing with identical cameras and you may key on one thing and I, another. You might shoot wide-angle while I prefer telephoto. Or maybe I want to shoot a scene at night and use artificial lights. Regardless, just because someone has a different perspective than you do, that doesn’t make them wrong. Not only that, they’re perspective on the same subject might be as beautiful as yours, yet their shine does not diminish your own. In many respects, we can shine together and uplift the craft of photography. Is not life like this?

A different perspective came come from anywhere or anyone. I learn so much from models I shoot. Many of them actively lend to my projects and some show me something I didn’t originally see they weren’t even trying to do so. You just never know where that next brilliant idea or concept might come from. All I’m saying is keep your mind open. Listen. Try to see. All the great ideas don’t only originate in the shower. 

Art Model, Alisia Copyright 2020 Terrell Neasley

A list of 3 things is definitely not all there is to know about the different life skills photography can teach. I am still cultivating the art of storytelling in my work. In addition to that you get experience with social skills, leadership, mentorship, how to start/run a business, and making something sellable from abstract space from which you can earn a living. Photography has been a blessing to me and when this thing is done, I hope I can say I have given something back to it.