Learning photography. What really matters

Someone has sent me a link to an article recommending interesting blogs about photography. I liked the beginning:

There are numerous ways to improve one’s skills – from free online lessons to real courses at photo schools. Books, video guides, workshops – but what really matters? Do sessions that promise to refine your skills pay off or are you just lining the pockets of clever people with more experience than yourself? Should you spend time reading free articles by various gurus or is that just another self-promotion trick? Today we are going to talk about what you can learn for free.

Argh. What a great opener – and right away winds down to a list of free blogs, articles and books (mine is also recommended). In my opinion, that’s not nearly enough. Materials like that are good and valuable accessories, but they don’t lay down the foundation. You may ask, what is the most important thing then? How should one go about learning photography? Because it’s mostly newbies who ask those questions, I would answer as follows on their level – that is, keeping things simple:


Some BOOKs and ARTicles news

Dear friends! I’ve got two good news for you:

1. In December 2014 we have finally completed a year and a half long work on the English version of my book “The Living Digit”! Due to various circumstances, this took us three times longer than was initially planned. My colleagues in the publishing house think that the translation is very good, and I have no reasons not to trust them on that. In a very short time you will have a chance to see it for yourself, and I’ll be very happy to have your feedback.

Currently the book goes through the process of final proof reading and editing by a native English speaker. I expect that the final version is ready within a month from now, and the book will be put on market. It is already clear that it will be published in an electronic form, and will be available in ePub and PDF formats. I’ll let you know more on how the book will be distributed in the coming weeks, as soon as it will come out.

2. The book aside, I always come up with new ideas, thoughts, experience, and, as a result of that – with new articles on photo shooting, processing, photo equipment, theory of photo and art. Many of those will likely be at the core of a new book, but even now they are quite popular with the Russian-speaking audience. My colleagues from Frameway got interested in translating those articles for placing them in this English-language blog of mine. I am obviously very happy about this initiative!

Thus, thanks to my friends and partners, few dozens of articles on photography, which are not a part of the book published, will be placed here in the course of the coming weeks. These would include both theoretical and purely practical materials, up to ready made Photoshop actions. Hope these will be of your interest.

We plan to start publishing some of them already next week.

Stay tuned!

In progress…

I’ve been working on this series for three years now, and finally the third photo appeared! Three photos for three years, this is a good result :) Of course, this is not the only series I’m working on, but one of the my favorites. I like it so tenderly that didn’t even come up with its name yet.

Hanoi, Vietnam, 2012

El Rocio, Spain, 2013

Calcutta, India, 2014

Petr Lovigin’s Armenian workshop participants’ photos

(с) Marina Valker

I am very impressed with the photos taken by the participants of the Peter Lovigin‘s workshop in Armenia. So much to make me want to go back to the country, which I’ve been to many time before. Thanks to the authors of these images for what subtle feel of the atmosphere of these places. Below are my favorite pictures from this trip. Next year I will offer a workshop in Armenia.


From my window

I really like the stereotypes of foreigners about Russia – the snow, bears crossing the streets and people in national costumes drink vodka straight from the bottle :) But you know … sometimes reality is almost like that! Of course, you can’t see bears in the streets – because bears live at least 10 thousand kilometers from Moscow. And no national clothing can be found except in museums – Russians prefer Gap, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, and similar brands. And we also drink vodka sometimes, but more often Italian, French and Chilean dry wine (red, of course, from the decanter). But what one can not take away is the snowing! For example, a couple of days ago we had a monthly norm of snow falling in one single day. This is how it looked from the window of my house:

And two days later:

In general this is a very curious, but after traveling halfway around the world, I like more and more to shoot from the window of my flat on 7th floor. For example, here’s one more view two month ago:


When I just started to devote myself to photography, I was worried about an infinite number of questions as any entry-level photographer: what equipment to buy, how to set up the camera, what to shoot, how to process and so on. As many beginners, I was trying to find answers from more experienced colleagues, vexed my friends and the friends of them with questions, asked people on the photosites, read endless articles and books.

After six months of immersion in subject my brain was literally «boiling» from the abundance of information and new terms, but the world of photography has become more and more difficult, complicated and confusing. It seemed to me that I would remain worthless incompetent if couldn’t understand all this, and continued to «burn the midnight oil».

A year later I was already tolerably versed in all the variety of equipment, shooting modes and even in Photoshop, but the more I knew about this, the more questions arose, the more I was away from the photography. It became clear much later, after years of searching and experimenting.

Now, having gone through hell, I know the correct answers to the initial questions. They are much easier than I had expected. Here you could say: «What a pity that I had no one to explain it to me». I don’t regret about time spent, because this is my personal way. But if in due time I had a really experienced friend, perhaps this would have been a bit shorter.

Almost every day now I hear the same questions with which I began myself. Friends of my friends write me same kind of letters: «You are a professional photographer, tell me what camera to buy for my nephew, he is 15 years old and is carried away by photography».

So finally I decided to sit down and write the answers to some of the most recurrent questions. These are the answers I would have liked to get 10 years ago. Maybe at that time I would have probably considered them «wrong» … but would have at least have a thought about them. Hoping for the same, I wrote this article to the most novice photographers. So, here come the «wrong» advices to those who are just starting photography, or maybe haven’t even begun, but already thought about it.

1. What camera to buy?
2. What lens to choose?
3. How to set up the camera?
4. What other equipment the photographer needs to have?
5. What to shoot?
6. How to process pictures?
7. What is a good picture?
8. Where and to whom to show the pictures?
9. Where and what to learn?


The glass


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