- I learned how to compose shots from different angles, like looking for interesting foreground elements when taking a very low shooting position. Alternatively, by looking up, as was done in the image of the forest above, you get a totally unique view of a forest scene.
- It spiced up the variety in my photos, so now when I look at a series of images, they aren't all from the same perspective.
When you're just starting out as a photographer, it can be really easy to get stuck in a rut.
After all, you have to figure out how to use your camera, determine what all those camera settings do, and educate yourself about exposure.
All of that happens after you find the time to learn the basic rules of composition and actually find time to go out and practice taking photos.
It's a lot, to be sure, but the name of the game is that last point - finding the time to practice what you learn so you can expand your photography skills.
Only when you learn new things and increase your photography repertoire will you be able to get consistent results that are in line with your creative vision.
With that in mind, let's take a look at three things you can do today that will help you expand your skills and will get you better photos each and every time.
Try Different Styles of Photography
It's great to find your favorite type of photography and work towards mastering it.
But there is something to be said for expanding your boundaries and giving other types of photography a try.
If you're most interested in portraits, by all means, spend a lot of time perfecting your ability to create a gorgeous portrait.
But going beyond a portrait of a family member or a friend and taking up something like street photography can help you in many ways.
For example, street photography requires you to think on your feet - from a compositional and a technical standpoint.
Think about it like this...
Let's say you encounter a scene on the street that you want to document, but time is of the essence.
That means you have to be able to dial in the necessary settings, raise the camera to your eye, lock focus, and compose the shot in a matter of seconds.
You can imagine how that sort of experience would help you in creating better portraits of your loved ones.
By learning to think on your feet and work quickly, you can employ those same principles even when time isn't of the essence.
The point is that by stretching your boundaries and learning how to work in different situations with different subjects to create images of many different types and sorts, you'll be able to hone those basic photography skills - composition, lighting, camera settings, and so on - in a way that makes you a more successful photographer in just about any situation.
Shoot From Different Perspectives
When I started in photography, I shot landscapes almost exclusively.
At the time, I thought I had a really good eye for what constituted a pretty landscape photo.
Here's what I did - I'd walk up to a vantage point, and standing up straight, I'd raise my camera to my eye and take a series of photos.
I was really proud of myself when they turned out pretty well, at least from a lighting and compositional standpoint.
But years later, in looking back at all those photos I was taking, I noticed something...
They were almost all taken from the same perspective - my eye level.
To say the least, after looking through a few hundred photos - all of which were taken from the same point of view - was really boring.
I decided at that point to challenge myself to take photos from different perspectives.
That helped me in two ways:
I know it seems too simple to be true, but trust me when I say that simply kneeling down, standing on your tiptoes, or even lying down on the ground will do wonders for your photos no matter if they are landscapes, portraits, or something in between. See this tip in action in the video above from the Ultimate PhotoGuide.
Use Different Lenses
When I started in photography, I used nothing but my kit lens, an 18-55mm zoom.
There's nothing wrong with doing that, but similar to never changing your perspective, never using a different lens can easily get you into a rut because you'll see the same scenes from the same focal lengths every time.
Now, this doesn't mean you need to run out and buy a telephoto lens (though, a 50mm lens would be a great idea).
For example, if you enjoy landscapes, try shooting landscapes with a short telephoto lens like an 85mm prime or a 70-200mm zoom.
Since a kit lens works in the wide-angle and standard regions, switching to a short telephoto or a telephoto lens forces you to view the scene in a completely different way. Have a look at the three primary ways that changing focal length can change your images in the video above by Mike Browne.
Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens means you have to pay attention to the smaller details of the scene, like the leaves in the image at the start of this subsection, rather than the landscape at large.
That means you can work on finding interesting vignettes that you'd otherwise miss when shooting with a wide lens.
Again, this is all about getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself to use different gear in different ways to get different results.
Wrapping Things Up
There is a common misconception by beginner photographers that to get better that there has to be a huge expenditure of money for better equipment or that you have to take a photography class to get the inside scoop on how to improve.
That's just not the case.
As we've seen with the tips outlined above, it's all about practicing a few concepts that help you stretch your boundaries and bring added interest and life to the photos that you create.
Honestly, if you practice these three tips every day for a couple of weeks, you will notice a marked improvement in your photos.
It just comes down to committing yourself to taking the time to work on these things!