I believe I have written on this topic both here and here to some degree before, but it is imperative in nearly any profession that I can think of. Never stop learning your trade. There are always new things coming out and you can really never know it all. Therefore, you must continue your education indefinitely.
You may or may not have gone to school for what you do and got a degree, or you may have self taught. But the degree is just a piece of paper that says you completed a course. I have a fine arts degree and a liberal arts degree and they certainly didn’t fully prepare for what I needed. They helped, but it was really just the basics. I know plenty of people that got bachelors degrees for graphic design, but they tell me it didn’t necessarily prepare them for what they actually do now. So then they learn on the job. The degree will get you part of the way there. Almost always will a job, any job, require something that didn’t quite fit into the box that was taught you in school.
Being an autodidact, or a self-taught person, is the same. You can only teach yourself so much before a point. Maybe you thought you had learned everything you required. But really, there is no stopping point. Even if you learned everything in the world that has to do with photography, for example, there are other things to learn that will affect your viewpoint. Maybe after learning photography, you would learn architecture, then you would know the fine points of what to photograph in urban exploration. Or learn botany and you would know what is the important parts and not just necessarily the pretty parts of flowers. These are just examples. Education knows no bounds and all education builds on other education.
There are many resources to use, from books like Art Without Compromise, Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers, Gardner’s Art through the Ages and Logo Design Love book and magazines like American Photo and Outdoor Photographer to paid online courses such as The Gnomon School of Visual Effects to the Art Institute Online with varying degree programs. In fact, I highly recommend the AI Online, as I had started in both the Game Art and Design bachelors and Media Arts and Animation bachelors degrees. I have thus far not finished due to it costing quite a bit and I’m not going to get loans…
But there are also completely free courses out there as well. Did you know that MIT gives away over 2000 courses absolutely free? That includes everything from the syllabus to the lecture notes, to assignments and exams! They have courses in everything from Biological Engineering to Media Arts and Sciences. Pretty amazing stuff.
Other online resources are aplenty, just look for forums. Find like-minded people on Twitter (I’m on Twitter) or Facebook (I’m on Facebook). Read blogs. (You can subscribe to this one here.) They are everywhere now. Or if you want to figure out how to do some new method, just try it out and do the exact same thing in many different ways. That is how Van Gogh worked. That is why he had repeated so many of his subjects, like haystacks and sunflowers. He was working out how the eye takes on different lighting and the impression he got in different circumstances.
For a few of my favorite resources (also check out my slightly outdated podcast playlist post here):
Digital Photography School
Logo Design Love
Just Creative Design
There are so many more, but there are a few to get started. If you followed me on Twitter, you’ll see whenever I post something of use. Do you have a favorite link to share? Post it in the comments below so everyone can get use of it.
© This article is copyright of Chris Lane Photo and should not be found elsewhere.