Ben and Hudson on Practicing Photography

Earlier this week, Ben, Hudson Henry and I had a lively discussion about the concept of practice. Over the course of an hour, we talked about many things, including:

  • Why people don’t generally think about ‘practice’ as something essential to photographic training (for example, unlike music, which is based around the idea of practicing);
  • Learning to practice the art of ‘seeing’;
  • Things we can do to get out of a rut;
  • The importance of looking at the work of great photographers as part of your photographic practice; and
  • How to think about practice as it pertains to your own photography.

Click the video above to watch, here or over on YouTube.

Building a photographic practice

Ben points out that we have to get over the notion that “practice is something you go do for a set amount of time and then you’re done…This is the dual nature of the word ‘practice.’ You practice photography, and you also have a photography practice. Practice is a state of mind that you should just be living in all the time.”

This concept is one of the key things that we emphasize in our workshops, critiques and one-on-one sessions. It has also been top of mind for Ben and I over the past months: We are in the midst of finishing Ben’s next book, The Practicing Photographer. This new book is a collection of essays about practice, with thoughts about how it can make you a better shooter. (It will ship in mid-November; we’ll have more details as the date gets closer.)

If you’re interested in specific ideas for practicing, check out our recent post, Photography Practice: Single Focal Length Challenge, or download our free Exercise Book PDF, a companion to the 9th edition of Complete Digital Photography. The PDF can be found at the top of the book support page here on the website. A few of the exercises are specific to CDP, but there are plenty of other ideas that you can use to incorporate into your own practice.

About Office Hours

On a side note, I’ve been helping Hudson out with his live Office Hours Zoom/YouTube every other Tuesday. They’re a fun way to spend an hour with a bunch of folks interested in photography. We usually have a topic, and answer questions on a variety of things photographic. You can sign up for the next session on Hudson’s Office Hours page, or you can look at past Office Hours over on Hudson’s YouTube channel.

[My apologies for the audio sync issues with my feed in the video; I’ve changed my camera setup, and clearly still have some kinks to work out.]

2 thoughts on “Ben and Hudson on Practicing Photography”

  1. Practice! The biggest impediment for me to “practice” is the difficulty in quantifying the outcome of my practice. For example, if I want to improve my golf game I can practice putting. The number of missed or made putts from different distances serves as a metric for the quality of my practice and the value of this practice. Except for certain technical aspects of photography, I’ve been unable to find similar analogies for photography. I’ve learned much from Ben’s fantastic courses on, but I am struggling to structure meaningful practice exercises, from which I can assess “how well I am doing” with whatever I am practicing. Anyway, as an amateur photographer, I very much enjoy your courses, writings, and insights. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Jeff. I agree that the idea of practicing is tenable only if you can see progress. We’re working on some things in this area. Stay tuned.


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