You know that saying, you can't teach an old dog new tricks? They probably never heard of new year resolutions. I believe learning new tricks is very important. Just as important is honing the skills you already have, even the ones you use on a daily basis. It makes sense to tune up these skills to elevate your work and confidence, delivering better and smarter results. In my case, the skill in question was smartphone photography.
In theory, taking smartphone photos is a no-brainer. You just whip out your phone and snap away. There are so many occasions that it’s perfect for: conferences, workshops, meetups, dinner or coffee. However, we all know that taking a great photo is not all that straightforward. With continuously improving phone camera software, and a mind-boggling array of apps in the PlayStore or Apple Store, each of us is holding a tool of great potential. Sometimes, though, you need help to unlock it.
I stumbled upon a smartphone photography course at the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar, Dublin, and jumped at the chance to attend. The one-day workshop was run by the awarding-winning photographer Brendan Ó Sé, a recipient of the Mira Mobile Photography Prize and a Cannes Golden Lion award. His work was part of the Apple World Gallery, with his photography on display in 70 different cities in 24 countries. Based on that, I realised I was in good hands.
On the day I joined a small group of fellow smartographers. We discussed the basics of photography composition, reviewed examples, and spoke to Brendan about must-use apps such as Snapseed, a free photo editor developed by Google.
The workshop also included some hands-on experience with a photographic stroll through Dublin. At the end of the day, we tested our updated skills and evaluated what we had learnt by showcasing our own edited photos on the big screen in the classroom.
Although there was a lot of reference to iPhone and Samsung phones, most of Brendan's advice could be applied across other devices, with a few small exceptions due to the feature availability. All in all, the day was full of useful information to digest and put into practice. I took photos of Dollard and Co. and the Olympia Theatre in Temple Bar’s Love Lane with my beloved Sony Xperia Z3.
The photography workshop reminded me how important it is to avoid silos in my day-to-day work. As a social media manager my work consists of more than monitoring platforms and data analysis tools. I cater to living and breathing communities. Their needs, habits and interests are not only interconnected, but they are also influenced by the world beyond their niche. Staying open to that means that I will employ new ideas while being able to reshape stuff I already apply.
My 2018 advice? Start your new year by brushing up on the skills you use all the time. Give them a little nudge, and you can easily upgrade your expertise to the next level.