The 4 stages of learning

Continuing on the theme of whether buying kit is the best way to improve, I thought I’d share with you my take on the 4 stages of learning to be a photographer.

Every journey

It can be hard to define precisely the four stages in terms of what skills you have or don’t have but I like to use two analogies that apply to almost any learning curve in any industry or walk of life;

Stage 1 – Beginner
Unconsciously incompetent
“You don’t know how much you don’t know”

Stage 2 – Intermediate
Consciously incompetent
“You know how much you don’t know”

Stage 3 – Semi-Pro
Consciously competent
“You know how much you know”

Stage 4 – Pro
Unconsciously competent
“You don’t know how much you know”

Have a think – and be honest – which of these categories sounds like you?

To help, I’ve created this little chart to explain my view of the three things that influence how good your photographs are (the camera, the lens and you) and how they relate;

(Click to enlarge)
Four phases of learning

In the next couple of posts I’ll describe what each means, why I think that, and how to go about progressing from one to the next.



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