Learning A New Skill

Learning something new, a new skill, an art, or anything else will not be adequate without learning history. It is learning the history, the theory and terminology behind the skills you are seeking is what gives you a better understanding of more advanced concepts. And so that is where my journey begins.

In my view, Photography and creative writing are, different sides if the same coin. An idea can be conveyed through the use of words, pictures or both. It only makes sense that the starting point for both skills can be defined in similar terms.


In photography, I started by taking basic photography lessons. I did not have time to take actual classes so the easiest way was to enroll in an online one. Being the cheapskate that I am, I started by looking for free classes. And there are plenty of choices. I started with a course very similar to an actual class, with videos, a teacher and certification test that I had to pass. So I took the class “The Art of Photography” at Open2Study.com, which is backed by Open Universities Australia (OUA). The course was a good start, you learn about the basics, some techniques, theory and history of photography. If there was one thing I learned, it was the importance of constant practice and sharing your work with like minded people who can critique and help you learn more.

After the lessons, learning more advanced techniques and keeping in touch with new development is important. For those, I subscribed to websites like PhotographyCourse.net and Digital-Photography-Course.com. Finally, join a club of like minded individual. for this, I have found meetup.com to be very helpful.

Creative Writing

Earlier, I mentioned that Creative Writing is another side of the same coin. So the process I am following is the same as photography. I am reading “Writing Fiction” by Janet Burroway and “Rules for Writers” by Diana Hacker. I am currently trying out different word processing software, tools that allow you to write distraction free, without the temptation of editing before you are done.

Someone had also mentioned to me that, you cannot write a short story if you cannot find the time to read short stories. So I guess I had better find the time. After all, two years is really not that much time.
These are guides that can be followed but will also be broken down to smaller sub- topics. In all probability, other topics will be added along the way. But this is a good start.


Learning theory, and doing plenty of reading will not help you get better if you are not willing and able to put in the work. Which means getting exposed to some tools of the trade. Until recently, I have relied on a Casio point-and-shoot camera, and my trusty android phone. Adequate for everyday photography but not for learning. Thanks to my family and the arrival of Christmas, I now also have a Nikon D7400 to play with. The Nikon is a DSLR camera but you may find that newer, mirrorless camera to be more than adequate.

Taking great photos the first time is always a goal, but in reality, most photograph you take will benefit from some form of processing. For that, I decided to download and learn photo-editing software, like GIMP, RAW Therapee, digiKam and Darktable.  These are all open-source software that is free for anyone to use.

The tools you need for creative writing is cheaper than in photography. if you wanted to, you could get away with just having a pen and paper. I do find keeping a daily journal more convenient using Journey by 2App Studio and Evernote comes in very handy. Both are available on any Android phone. I am sure there are other journaling software available if you use an iPhone or windows phone. A few more tools that I believe to be useful, scrivener, grammarly, Google drive, readability-score.com.

Learning all of these is a handful, but I have given myself two years to learn and eventually choose a couple of applications that are well suited to me.

© 2016, Norman Talon. All rights reserved.

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