- Filter holder
- Circular polarizer
- An ND64 solid ND filter
- An ND4 soft-edge grad filter
- Lens hood
- Thread plates
- Carry case
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
With the end of the decade closing in on us everyday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways I’ve improved in the 2010s, and the way the photography industry as a whole has improved.
An incredible amount of technology came out this decade, and we saw the rise of the flat lay, i.e. that layout food bloggers on Instagram love, the double exposure, and the selfie.
But, I’ve also been thinking about the ways we haven’t improved, or to look at it more positively, the ways we can improve in the next decade.
One way we can do this is to stop relying entirely on our technology to do our job for us.
Here are tips for improving your photography without needing to buy any new camera gear.
Forget About What You Can’t Photograph
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash
This is an especially difficult challenge for me because I adore travel photography. I’m constantly thinking about my next photography trip, sifting through Google Flights in search of a good deal, and basically living vicariously through travel photographers I follow.
But, this gets in my way. If I’m focused too much on what I’m going to be doing next, then I’m not focusing on what I can be doing now
Photo by Gentrit Sylejmani on Unsplash
The same thing can be said of people who let their equipment hold them back. For example, in order to be an incredible sports photographer, you need a camera that can keep up with you (and the subjects you’re trying to photograph).
But, many of my friends who are just breaking into sports photography will oftentimes refuse to shoot a game because they become frustrated with what their camera technology can’t do, instead of focusing on what it can do and being more creative with their shots.
Use High-Quality Filters
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to use bargain-basement, no-name filters for your photos.
After all, what's the point of investing in a good lens (which you should definitely do...) and then putting a junk filter in front of it?
Good filter systems can be spendy, but they're certainly worth it, just like your upgraded lens.
The PolarPro Summit series is a particular favorite of mine because it shows a dedication to innovation and build quality that many lesser filter systems lack.
To begin, the Summit landscape filter kit has everything you need to get started:
Additionally, you'll find that the included filters are super high quality.
For example, the circular polarizer is made of fused Quartz glass with 16 layers of coatings that reduce glare while improving clarity and color.
Likewise, the ND filters have the same Quartz construction and coatings, but also have aluminum frames that help protect the filter while minimizing fingerprints too.
These filters have been field tested by some of the top landscape photographers in the world, and the consensus is that they are rock-solid, easy to use, and help you produce much-improved images.
What's not to like about that?!
Check out the PolarPro Summit filter system today to see how it can improve your workflow.
Learn New Photography Skills
photo by PeopleImages via iStock
When I taught myself photography 20 years ago, I read a ton of books and learned on the fly out in the field.
It was hard, to say the least. But as we've advanced into the digital age, it's easier than ever to pick up new photography skills.
And I don't necessarily mean watching YouTube videos, either...
There are tons of excellent photography schools that offer online courses you can do at your own pace.
Not only does this make learning new photography skills much easier, but these online photography schools give you a tremendous amount of breadth and depth of knowledge you simply can't get from a YouTube video.
Take, for example, Real Estate Photographer Pro.
I featured this online photography school in an article just a couple of weeks ago that focused on some of the best online schools for photographers at the moment.
What's so great about Real Estate Photographer Pro is that it is so comprehensive - there are more than 80 video tutorials on all manner of real estate photography topics, so you get instruction on everything from camera settings to marketing your business.
Better still, the tips and tricks outlined in this course are based on real-world experience in real estate photography, so you know that the advice you're getting is stuff that's actually worked!
You get lifetime access to course materials, downloadable assets, access to a private support community, and even direct access to the school's founder, Eli Jones.
This illustrates the benefit of living in the digital age - you can learn a lot, learn it faster, and have a robust set of materials right at your fingertips that will help you learn the skills you need to succeed.
Photography Projects Give You Focus
Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash
My first photography project happened when I was in the tenth grade. I was in a photography class in high school, it was almost Valentine’s Day, and our photography teacher tasked us with photographing 20 red photos over a 2 week period.
Photo by Joshua K. Jackson on Unsplash
At the time, it seemed like a waste. I didn’t truly understand the point of themed projects. But now, I love them.
Try and explore different photography projects, like taking one photo every day for a year like I mentioned, or theme your photos with a color, emotion, or location.
While this doesn’t necessarily teach you how to get better at photography, it does teach you to think outside societal norms.
Use a Tiny Memory Card
Photo by César Abner Martínez Aguilar on Unsplash
Technology has given us so much as an industry, but one thing it has taken is our precision. Instead of knowing we only have a certain amount of shots to get it right, we now can take as many shots as our hearts desire - which can lead to sloppy skills.
In order to combat this, I’ll try and find the smallest memory card I can (or, shoot on a mostly full memory card). By limiting myself to, say, 24 exposures, I find that I’m much more focused on getting things right in-camera and getting better photos overall.
Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash
I understand most of these tips for improving your photography are unconventional, especially this one since photographers adore their large memory space, but this isn’t a life or death photoshoot. It’s practice!
Print Your Best Photos
Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash
I recently wrote an article on the societal importance of printed photos, but here’s a recap: printed photos are nostalgic and they allow you to reminisce not only on a specific time in your life but your photography career.
There’s nothing like walking into my living room during the holidays and thinking about the canvas print hanging over my couch that I took on Christmas five years ago. It gets me thinking about how much better I am at my craft and about where I want to be in another five years.
Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash
Plus, it’s always fun to show off something you’re proud of.
I print my photos on CanvasHQ. If I’m being honest with you, I started doing so because they nearly always have a coupon for anywhere from 20-30% off their products.
But, I keep going back to them because their customer service is incredible, and their products (even the ones I’ve shoved in a dark crevice in my garage) remain pristine no matter how many years have gone by.
I encourage you to check out their website and treat yourself, and the future you, to the gift of an awesome print. You won’t be disappointed!
Bonus: Take Photos Every Single Day
Photo by Christian Bolt on Unsplash
The only way to learn how to take better photos is by taking a lot of photos. It only takes a month to build a habit, so if you can take at least one photograph every day for one month then you could feasibly take one photograph every day for a year, which is a huge accomplishment.
This repetition allows you to hone your craft by learning everything there is to know about your camera, but it also teaches you discipline.
Photo by Saksham Gangwar on Unsplash
I know I don’t necessarily want to go out and photograph in the freezing cold, but exercises I’ve done in the past where I made myself weather less-than-ideal conditions allowed me to be much better when good opportunities sprang up later on in the same conditions.