I'd be lying if I said that every time I picked up a camera that I gave it my all.
Sometimes, there's just not enough time.
Other times, I just don't have the energy.
There are periods when I don't feel all that creative, either.
All photographers go through the ebbs and flows of photography.
But what separates lazy photographers from the rest of us is that these ebbs and flows are much more even.
By that, I mean that lazy photographers spend much more of their time looking for the easy way out.
Just take a guess at how good the photos are that result from a lazy approach...
If you're not satisfied with the quality of your photos, you might need to consider if you're simply just a lazy photographer.
Here's eight sure signs that you need to step up your game...
Your Camera Manual Has Never Been Opened
I fully admit that I'm more of a "let's see how this thing works" instead of "let's read that owner's manual" kind of guy.
But I will also admit that that's a lazy way to approach things.
Though it isn't the most titillating reading, your camera's owner's manual has a wealth of information that will benefit you as a photographer, not the least of which is simply what the buttons, dials, and modes actually do.
This information will form the foundation for everything else you learn in photography.
After all, it doesn't do you much good to learn about how to control exposure settings if you haven't even bothered to learn how to change those settings on your camera.
Set aside some time to go through your camera's owner's manual page by page. Have your camera right there with you as you go along. Trust me, it will help you much more than you think!
You Hardly Ever Shoot
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect...
If you're dissatisfied with the images you create, do a bit of self-reflection and think about how often you shoot.
It's easy to look out the window and think "the weather is bad" or "the lighting is too harsh" and end up just couch surfing the rest of the day.
But, of course, that's not going to do you any favors in terms of improving your photos.
That doesn't mean that you have to shoot every single day for several hours.
In fact, if you just take a few minutes a day to focus on photography, you'll be well on your way to breaking out of your lazy photographer ways.
Put simply, stop making excuses for not grabbing your camera and taking photos as often as you can!
You Spend a Lot of Time Fixing Things in Photoshop
If you find that you spend four or five hours processing the photos that only took 30 minutes to create, you might be doing something wrong.
Now, there are different schools of thought on post-processing.
On the one hand, some photographers think you should do everything you can to get everything about the image correct in the field.
On the other hand, other photographers utilize post-processing to manipulate colors, add contrast, work with layers, and so forth.
Either school of thought is fine.
But if you're spending the bulk of your time fixing errors in post-processing instead of working on ways to enhance your photos, you might be a lazy photographer.
That's not to say that a crooked horizon here or a bit of adjustment to levels and curves isn't necessary sometimes, but if you're out in the field thinking "I'll fix that later," we've got a problem.
Your Compositions are Boring
If you pick a dozen photos out of your collection and see that they all have the same composition from the same perspective, you might have some laziness on your hands.
The easiest thing to do when taking a photo is to stand there, bring your camera to your eye, and take the photo.
But that's the lazy way out!
Instead, move around and look for better vantage points. Get up high. Get down low. Move from side to side.
These simple movements will help you put a unique spin on the subject regardless of whether it's a person, a building, or a mountain.
Check out some unique composition tips for landscape photography in the video below from Advancing Your Photography:
You Don't Work For It
When I was a little kid, I played baseball.
And when I say I played baseball, I mean I sucked at baseball.
It wasn't that I wasn't athletically gifted or that I didn't enjoy playing, it's just that I never practiced.
I just didn't work for it.
If you don't work to become a better photographer, you can't expect to break the shackles of laziness and start producing better images.
So, the next time you go shoot, don't just hop out of the car and snap a few images.
Get out of the parking lot and walk around. Venture away from all the other photographers and find your own spot to see what beauty you can create. Get up early (gasp!) or stay out late to take advantage of the best light of the day - Golden Hour.
Set aside an afternoon to scout a location, devise a plan for the types of photos you want to create, and then go do it.
As I said above, practice makes perfect. And while that's a cliche, it's at least a true one!
You Blame Your Gear For Bad Photos
If you spend a lot of time thinking "if I only had a better camera," then the chances are good that you're a lazy photographer.
I've seen an untold number of incredible photos taken with old SLR film cameras, smartphones, and even Polaroid cameras.
In other words, the camera simply isn't the problem.
Give a professional an old, beat up camera, and they can take an incredible photo.
Give a lazy photographer the most expensive camera in the world, and they can take a truly terrible photo.
What makes the difference is you, not your gear or how much money you spend.
Sure, having awesome new stuff is nice, and can even improve the quality of the photos you take from a sharpness or resolution standpoint.
But better photos result from your hard word (as noted above), not the camera you look through.
You Don't Take Time to Get Inspired
I've harped a lot on working to get better as being the best antidote for lazy photography and boring photos.
But there's something to be said for finding inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, too.
There have been plenty of days when I struggled to get my act together and go take some photos.
But when those moods strike, a few minutes spent looking at what my friends have shared on Instagram or Flickr or PhotographyTalk's galleries helps me change my attitude from "I'll do it later" to "Let's go now!"
Looking at how other people have created gorgeous photos isn't just a great way to get your energy up and ready for shooting...
It's also a great way to learn about what makes a good photo.
So, when you're inspecting photos, think hard about what you like. Notice things like lighting and contrast, how the shot was framed, and the way the subject is portrayed.
You'll find that, pretty quickly, you'll begin to develop a better understanding of what you like and what your style is as a photographer. And once you do that, you can set about taking photos that align with those preferences.
You're Still Shooting in Full Auto
Shooting in full auto has its benefits, even for photographers that have been at this for awhile.
But even if you've only had a camera for a few months, if you haven't at least attempted to learn how to use advanced shooting modes - aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode - then I hate to say it, but you might be a lazy photographer.
Shooting in full auto is quick and efficient, I'll give you that.
But in terms of learning how to wrest the most out of your camera, full auto can be a crutch.
Better photos result from you making decisions about exposure settings - not the camera.
If you want to be a better photographer that produces better photos, don't be lazy. Get out of full auto and learn how to really use that camera!