The best way to learn how to do what you don’t know how, is to do it over and over.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote about it in his book Outliers.
Now, I am not an outlier or anything special. But I’ve learned some tricks for learning difficult things. One of those is to take the risk and do what it is I don’t know how to do.
Take for instance using off-camera lighting. I had no idea how that worked. I had always used natural light to make photos.
So when a friend of mine offered to teach me how to use a strobe, I practiced making images with it through projects.
Every weekend, I would do a photo project. It was based on a concept or a storyline, and I would create inspiration boards from magazines about the kind of lighting the imagined images would need. It was a lot of fun visualizing the imagery, and I had to learn how to decide lighting position, intensity, contrast, and all the elements that had to work with the camera.
Several months into my personal project to learn how to use strobes, an actor friend approached me with a script for a graphic novel. His idea was to shoot it with still photography but like a movie.
We planned it to be a night-time shoot because of the graphic novel’s setting and theme, so I had to use what I knew about strobe lighting to make sure we could get the project done.
We shot from 7 to midnight one night. Below are a couple of scenes.
I learned that the way you know how to do something is by taking the first risky step and just doing it! Then, practice over and over and over until you know how it works.