Stephen Bay's Photography Blog

The Best Way to Improve Your Photography: Have a Vision

Beginning photographers often ask me how best to improve their work. I have a bit of a reputation for doing technical images that require a lot of Photoshop, so I think they expect me to say something about mastering post-processing and how that can take an average photo to the next level. But while post-processing is necessary, it is not the most important thing in my opinion. Other photographers know that I often spend a lot of time planning out my shoots.

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My Photography Goals for 2020

Creative Goals I’m going to move away from stamp collecting. In the past, I treated landscape (and travel) photography like stamp collecting. I had a list of locations and I wanted to make sure I had at least one photo from each spot. Once I got my shot, I moved on to the next one in my list. When I first moved to San Diego, this served me well as I had no images and didn’t know the area very well.

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My Creative Process for Landscape Photography

I live in San Diego and making local landscape images has been my focus for the past several years. When I started, other photographers told me that it would be an uphill battle, that everything has already been shot before, and it’s going to be next to impossible to standout. I was told that I would struggle to find my own unique pictures. At first I was discouraged and I found it hard to argue with this viewpoint.

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Be Willing to Fail

As a landscape photographer, I often feel a lot of pressure to come away with a good photo when I go on a shoot. This could be because I’m traveling and I won’t be able to return to the location easily. Or it might be that I need certain environmental conditions such as the clouds and the tides to align which doesn’t happen that frequently. For some of my moon shots, I’ve waited over a year for the right alignment.

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Setting Goals to Improve Your Photography

It’s a bit early for New Year’s resolutions, but I thought I would write about photography goals and how setting them helped me improve my game. For many years I focused on travel photography which I practiced in a largely documentary style. I was quite comfortable with it but about two years ago, I decided to shift into landscapes and cityscapes. My initial work was OK, I occasionally had some good images, but more often I found my photos lacking in some respect and I decided I wanted to create better images.

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