learning photography through my ears

I’ve been getting into photography lately. That means I’ve been learning a whoooole bunch of stuff, from technical mumbo to creative jumbo. And get this: I’ve been learning through my ears. How? Podcasts. Lots of ’em.

yellow fence

How do you learn something so visual by listening? Well, of course, it’s not 100% listening, but that is the starting point for many of my new neural connections. I listen on my ipod when I’m commuting home, or doing housework. (My ipod has done wonders for my household.;-))  For photos mentioned in the discussions I go to Flickr later on or even view them right away on my ipod (if the podcast producer has published photos into the sound file).

Not many people in my circle of friends are as into podcast listening as I am, and most just don’t get it. Podcast listening hasn’t really caught on like they thought it would. So it’s still like a little community, with fans of a certain podcast tending to feel a certain bond… well, I think I do anyway.

So it is with my current favorite photography podcast, Moni’s Motivklingel. Monika Andrae speaks to us every week (in German) about the creative side of photography, pushing us with challenging assignments every couple weeks or so. And I mean challenging. We don’t go out and shoot a photo on a simple, one-word theme – no, we usually have to (no, get to) come up with a photo that meets several requirements. The latest, for example, has to include these 3 elements: something we associate strongly with winter, a piece of summer clothing, and the color black.

I say “we”. That’s the feeling I get, like we’re a group learning together, with a little help from Flickr. Moni set up a Motivklingel group on Flickr where we submit our photos. That way we can see how the others took on the latest challenge, and comment on each others’ efforts, always in a friendly, constructive way. We watch and comment on other photos too, not just the ones made for assignments.

It’s like taking a photography class for free. Really! (For me there’s the added bonus of listening and writing in German – high motivation so no problem!) Even on episodes without a new assignment we get inspiration for creating pictures, as Moni shares her thoughts on what makes good photography. No clutter about technical toys or settings, it’s all about getting a great subject, the most elusive part of making good photos (imho).  After each episode there’s always new things catching my eye as I move through the day, new perspectives on “ordinary” situations, where I pause and think “that might be a photo there” – even without my camera along.

It’s real learning “web 2.0” style: podcast, blog, flickr, sharing. No weighted-down “learning management system”, no exclusive login, just learning. Fun. Fantastic.

Got some basic German listening skills? Want to learn photography by learning how to see? Check out Moni’s Motivklingel.

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