Discussion: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?

This question has recently been posted on a Facebook wall and I’m guessing to gather information in an attempt to improve standards. My basic answer has been posted so I want to share it here on my blog before following it up at a later date in more detail. It really does mesh well with my current series on International Judging and Scoring Systems…
“First, You get yourself a proper ‘qualified’ Mentor with a range of experience who will encourage you to never forget the core skills essential to ‘best practice’. You’ll haunt the halls of Art Galleries and immerse yourself in Art Books. You will disregard the so called ‘Rock Stars’ of photography who are more intent on selling rubbish to complete their inaccurate messages motivated by self glorification and economics. You’ll hang out with other creatives to gain inspiration. You’ll enter reputable awards where you know it’s fair and the briefs are properly explained and where the judges represent the very highest standards of professionalism and behaviour and who give of their knowledge selflessly. And finally, do not believe YouTube content and other online ‘resources’ which are either considered the whole truth or the font of all knowledge! And that’s just a start!!!”
As it is, the entire question is a minefield and for the newcomer or aspiring professional alike I will endeavour to expand on this and freely offer the best advice I can. Watch this space!

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