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I stopped following photography channels, and why you should too
If you are reading this short essay it is because you are either interested in photography or you are my mother (if the latter, hi mom!). But in all seriousness, you are probably part of the former, and in being part of that group of people whose aim is to get better at capturing images [very difficult indeed], I lay my humble opinion on why you shouldn’t watch YouTube anymore.
Unlike many of you I didn’t start in this craft when I was 11 or 12, cameras weren’t a thing around my house when I was growing up, so my real experience with photography started over a year ago. My brother needed a person to take some portraits, so I stepped in and offered my help, at that moment my knowledge in photography was as big yours in quantum mechanics (unless you know anything about QM, in which case the analogy doesn’t apply).
Soon after dipping my toe in the waters of photography I became very passionate about it and so started to study it seriously. YouTube can be a very powerful tool, and it was when I was first starting out, I binge watched several different YouTube videos related to photography, but pretty soon I realised that I was either consuming content or becoming a “passive learner”, in other words I was watching but not applying, and so I started to shift my mentality, I started to go out, to actually shoot and to edit my own files [without the help of presets or other forms of magical one click solutions].
Soon after realising this and changing from watching to doing, I saw the biggest improvement, and yes, I made mistakes (I still do), but it has been those mistakes that have thought me more than anything else. Please note, I am not claiming to be the best or to have mastered photography, but I can look back and see personal growth, I am a better photographer now than I had been ever before, and what comes ahead really excites me (but this is not the point of this entry).
I should clarify that some of these channels can be very useful to you, in fact a handful are really good regardless of your competency level, but the richness of information dwindles very quickly and content becomes much more abstract (not necessarily a bad thing), quality decreases significantly (from a pure educational perspective) and you end up watching something like “should I switch from X to Y ” or it’s many other variations, I mean how many “7 tips to improve your photography” can be made before running out of things to say?
YouTube isn’t a platform designed with learning in mind, and by no means am I saying that you won’t be able to find relevant content here but, finding content [as a photographer at least] becomes much more difficult and tedious as you develop your skills. The reality is that there are fewer incentives for anyone to teach you than there are to entertain you, why would anyone give you for free what has costed them so much to learn?
It is more profitable to make entertainment content, most creators (not all) will simply focus their energy on making a couple videos a week with the only intention of keeping you watching, racking up views so more money is paid to them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact regular TV has been doing it since its origins, but in the spirit of learning and improving your photography watching the “top three mistakes photographers make when going out for lunch” really isn’t going to do much for you.
I am grateful for all the laughs and tips I got from those videos, but they are now hindering my progress, stopping me from doing what I should be doing instead. Stop wasting time watching and start spending it shooting and editing, because in the end there are no blueprints, no shortcuts to improving your photography, it’s just you and the camera.
Note: If you want to grow consider joining an online course, there are dozens of great courses that will definitely help you, but remember, nothing will help improve as much getting out there and doing it over and over. Enjoy yourself out there.