In which I reflect on my learning style

june sunset

I have my best learning experiences ‘learning’ things I don’t actually need to know. In other words I seem to have an endless capacity to amass trivial and relatively unimportant pieces of information. These spin around my mind like a whirligig and are usually readily accessible, when needed. They seldom are. Random example: should anyone want to know what the relationship is between the editor of Italian Vogue and the owner of the Milanese gallery/shop 10 Corso Como I can readily supply the answer: they are sisters – Franca Sozzani (magazine editor) and Carla Sozzani (shop owner).


I digress. Now, if only my talent for soaking up, like a sponge, unimportant trifles was matched by a capacity to lock into memory more useful information. Sadly it’s not. Pressing example: my need to retain my dwindling photography knowledge.


I attended one set of excellent photography classes and one equally excellent photography workshop but despite learning much at these I recently reverted to shooting everything in automatic mode. That mode if you are not camera-literate is one where the camera makes all the decisions. The result was that earlier photographic knowledge was beginning to disappear faster than the early morning dew.

late evening

Having lost a camera in Paris in late 2011 I ‘invested’ over time in not one but two cameras *hangs head in spendthrift shame*. So I am now the owner of a DSLR and another more compact camera that fits easily into my bag. But of late I have often left the bulkier DSLR at home and it has become sadly neglected.


Photography is a vast subject and I pondered how I could revise and make further progress. I never had my learning style assessed and wondered if I knew what it was would learning and retaining photographic knowledge become easier. When I googled ‘learning style’ and started wading through various articles I found them perplexing, until I came across one on the Psychology Today website which suggests that the notion of different learning styles is actually bunkum – click here to read. Strangely I found that comforting.


Maybe I should just take more pictures: practice may not, in my case, make perfect but it would surely help. So I decided to take my DSLR out more often and snap more images even if I don’t fully understand everything I need to know or do. And I decided that I will join a camera club where I can get guidance from fellow amateur photographers on the many photographic conundrums which perplex me.

The weather here has been utterly glorious recently – I hope you had a lovely weekend wherever you are.


Filed under Musings, Photography

19 responses to “In which I reflect on my learning style

  1. Your photo’s look beautiful, I am just now trying to learn having just bought a Canon for food photography. Having a real problem with lighting and end up becoming frustrated and picking up my iphone. You take wonderful photographs, I think I need to do like you and take some courses.

  2. couple of things to make you (hopefully) smile.

    we had lots of lessons and then reverted back to automatic settings and concentrated on composition (and editing after which is more Fun).

    a friend of ours has a boyfriend who has a VAST amount of cameras and Never Does Manual and yet her pictures are way better (on automatic with a light compact camera) – he got frustrated – WHY?

    she has Talent, we said, succinctly (and thankfully not in his earshot 😉


    you are glorious. as are your pictures.

    • Thank you so much Team Gloria.

      You are kind to leave SUCH an encouraging comment, it is much appreciated.

      Yes it did make me smile and it also engendered photographic hope.

      So, merci mille fois.

      *waving from the Emerald Isle*

  3. 10 Corso Como is a great shop. It is one of the first place I go to in Milan when I visit. My camera is permanently on the automatic setting. I did a photography course too, many years ago, and promptly forgot everything I learned.

    • I have only visited 10 Corso Como once but the memory lingers. I remember you wrote on your blog about a meal you had there a while back.

      I am now wondering if it is time to give up on my attempts to use the manual setting.

      Decision imminent! 😉

  4. I’ve just completed a DSLR course – and there’s so much to remember! I’m getting there slowly though. I found the other members of the class were able to give some really good advice in easy layman’s terms too.

    • I so agree, there’s such a huge amount to remember. It’s been a stop start process for me and I am hoping that over time it will get easier. I wish you lots of luck with using your new skills.

  5. With regard to your photographic path, I am afraid you have to kind of force yourself not to give up and roll back to “auto-pilot”. That does not help, because it is the camera, not you, which makes all decisions for you, except composition. And if that happens you will never be able to develop your own style, to make your own technical decisions. You will not be able to move on.
    The fascinating thing about photography is that it is a medium that combines technical proficiency with artistic vision and sensitivity. It is a bridge between the worlds of science and art. While an artistic sensitivity can be taught only to a point, technique can sure be learnt: it is only a question of putting the effort into it and repeating in the field what you learn on the books.
    My suggestion is: get yourself a good book about photography and understand the fundamental building blocks. My suggestion is, skip all those fancy smancy “how to shoot digital photography” how tos. In the vast majority of the cases they will not teach you rules that you can then apply (or bend!) whenever you decide to. Get a book from one of the masters, and who cares if when they wrote it there were still film cameras around: photography is still photography, digital or film. On exposure, learn Ansel Adam’s zone system: it is still the only way to consistently achieve good exposures (The Negative is a good book about it) and then I would say get one or more of the books that John Shaw wrote about photography. They are wonderfully clear and really helpful.
    And then grab that DSLR and go out and shoot relentlessly in M (or at the very least A or S) mode and practice what you learned. You will see that it will stick and eventually become second nature to you.
    Don’t give up!
    Just my 2 cents 🙂

    • Stefano,

      Thank your so very much for your comprehensive comment which is both encouraging and motivating. I am glad you took the time (and a considerable amount of it) to tell me all this.

      Because of what you say I am going to make an effort to read up on and practice my photography. I have been aware that I am not making progress and if I am honest I know that that is because I haven’t put the effort in. And I was discouraged by some indoor shots that I took for my next post on manual which didn’t come out well but I also know that that was because I had forgotten what I had been thought about shooting in poor light.

      I won’t give up.

      Your 2 cents are VERY much appreciated. Thanks again. 😉

      • You are very welcome, B!
        I think you have a good eye for pleasing compositions and it would be a shame if you gave up.
        If I may offer one more suggestion: take it in steps. Reinforce all concepts on exposure etc. first outside in good available light conditions. Then take the extra step of tackling indoor photography, which is a different ballgame and, to be done well, requires adequate artificial lighting skills, at least in most situations. That’s another building lock that you will have to add to your arsenal, but in my view if you try to do all at once it will most likely feel a daunting and even frustrating task.

      • Thank you Stefano,

        I think that’s good advice and I will take it each step at a time. As I said before I so VERY much appreciate you taking the time to tell me all of this.

        Thank you again. 😉

  6. Allow me to disagree, B. The relationship between the two Sozzani sisters is a fundamental piece of information

  7. among the women into fashion and Corso Como is a fashion paradise where I spent many Milan weekends. I guess you learn what really interest you. I think that the reason I don’t know absolutely anything about … let’s say fractions is that they simply do not interest me. There is no unimportant piece of information just different people with different interests. 🙂
    At least this is my opinion. 😉

    • Francesca I think I probably agree with you.

      I suppose I could have expressed it better and said that this is the sort of information that interests me (as you say we learn about what interests us) but which I have no call to ever, ever use in my day to day life.

      I only visited 10 Corso Como once and I loved it. It wasn’t just the beautiful selection of clothes (I didn’t buy anything but I loved looking at them) but more the feel of the place – so very different from any other shop I have ever been in.

      With good wishes from B 😉

  8. WhiteTrinity

    I can certainly relate to your thoughts here. Your photos are beautiful; so no worries, stick with Auto mode. You are still a good photographer! — Mrs. J

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