photo by RichVintage via iStock
If you’re learning how to improve your photos, one of the best places to start is a place of creativity. If you’re only focusing on the technical aspects of photography, you might get easily frustrated and forget that photography is a creative exercise as well.
But, if you start learning how to improve your photos by participating in different photography projects that you actually enjoy, then you can have fun with photography while improving as you go.
All of the photography ideas on this list will help you to practice photography, but they’re also meant to help you explore different photography niches to find out what you really love about it.
photo by skynesher via iStock
Most of my favorite photography niches, like street photography and photojournalism, require the ability to shoot candidly.
Candid shots of people showcase emotions so much better than shots that are posed and being able to convey raw emotions is one of the best ways to learn how to improve your photos because the stories you can tell with photography become so much clearer this way.
photo by GoodLifeStudio via iStock
Shooting silhouettes is quite easy because you don’t even need models to pose for you. You can use plenty of stationary objects, like tall trees, or your favorite furry pet to practice silhouettes.
Practicing silhouettes allows you to begin to understand the relationship between your subject and its surroundings. But perhaps more importantly, you can learn valuable lessons about exposure, lighting, using your camera’s metering modes, and posing.
Take Photos with a Shallow Depth of Field
photo by chee gin tan via iStock
If you’re really interested in learning how to improve your photos, then you need to understand how to create a shallow depth of field.
A shallow depth of field means that only a small sliver of your photo is in focus, while the rest of the image is blurred away.
Shallow depth of field shots allow you to very narrowly focus your audience’s attention on exactly what you want them to be seeing. This is often used in portraits to help separate the subject from the background.
Play with Your Shutter Speed
photo by -aniaostudio- via iStock
If you’ve ever seen a photo of speeding car lights that are blurred or those cliche wedding photos where the couple creates a heart around themselves out of light from a sparkler, then you’ve seen a photographer playing with shutter speed.
You can create light trails by slowing down your shutter speed, or you can freeze all of the action in your shot by speeding up your shutter speed.
I know I talked about learning how to improve your photos without getting too involved in the technical aspects of photography, but every once in a while you have to break your own rules.
Purchase a Drone for Aerial Shots
photo by jacoblund via iStock
I definitely don’t think you need to make a lot of new camera equipment purchases in order to learn how to improve your photos, but if you have a few hundred dollars to spare, then I would recommend buying a drone.
Drone photography is one of the hottest photography niches and probably will stay that way for a while, so by practicing your aerial shots you’re not only learning how to improve your photos, but you’re also ensuring your photography business, should you decide to open one, will already be ahead of the curve.
photo by miniloc via iStock
Taking photos with a drone gives you an opportunity to practice a very important skill - composition. A large part of composing great shots is understanding perspective and angles, and by taking to the skies with a drone, you can explore things like landscapes from a totally new perspective than you normally could.
Sometimes moving a few feet to the left or right or finding a vantage point below or above your subject can turn a good shot into a great one. Practicing drone photography is an ideal way to hone this skill!
Use a Wide-Angle Lens
photo by william87 via iStock
Learning how to improve your photos is oftentimes as easy as using a new lens.
A wide-angle lens allows you to capture more of your scene and is typically used in landscape photography for just this reason.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t play with a wide-angle lens in just about any scenario. Wide-angle lenses can be used for street photography, portraits, still life, and many other types of photography.
The key to a successful wide-angle photo is having a strong subject that anchors the shot and interesting elements in the foreground to draw viewers in. Again, understanding how to compose your shots is a critical skill, and a wide-angle lens can definitely help you develop that skill.
Get some tips for maximizing the effect of your wide-angle shots in my video above.
Print Your Favorite Photos
photo by Ondrooo via iStock
This is one of my favorite photography projects because I can get my whole family involved.
By hanging my favorite photos up around my house, it gives me the chance to constantly critique them, while also being able to brag to friends who come over about my favorite hobby.
I typically print my photos on canvas, since canvas photos tend to work really well in a variety of homes and rooms. I use CanvasHQ for my printing because all of their canvases are rated to last for decades, which means I will be able to pass my favorite photos onto my children as a family heirloom.
Plus, for the fantastic quality, CanvasHQ is relatively cheap. I can get a canvas printed for as little as $20. That’s a veritable steal considering that these canvases are hand-made with care by highly-qualified artisans.
There’s a reason why I have so many canvases in my home - and why the vast majority of them are from CanvasHQ. These prints are beautifully made, affordable, and arrive at your door quickly. What’s not to like about that?!
Practice Catching Reflections
photo by csterrell via iStock
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been is London during Christmas after a heavy rainfall. The streets are so slick with water that all of the Christmas lights hung over them are reflected dozens of times.
Reflections are one of the best ways to get better at photography because they take what would normally be a pretty routine scene and transform it into something magical.
While bodies of water are going to be the best way for you to catch a reflection, try finding reflections in other parts of your world that other photographers may not get to see.
photo by Alpgiray Kelem via iStock
Self-portraits are one of the most challenging projects for photographers. You must act both as the photographer and as the model. But, once you understand what is required of both of these parties, it will make shooting with “real” models in the future so much simpler.
Plus, you can use this self-portrait project to learn how to improve your photos while simultaneously learning more about your creative eye. How do you see yourself and how can you convey this in just one shot?
Photograph the Sunset
photo by july7th via iStock
Anyone who has ever dabbled in photography has probably grabbed a photo of a sunset. The sun creates such beautiful landscapes during golden hour, so why wouldn’t you?
Still, photographing a sunset can be pretty difficult. You need to understand a ton of different fundamentals from working with the challenging lighting to using filters to balance the exposure to composing a pleasing-looking shot.
But when it all comes together well, the result is a gorgeous photo that makes all that hard work well worth it!
Find Symmetrical Shots
photo by Khai_n via iStock
One of the hardest shots to compose are shots that are symmetrical, like the one above.
But, as people we are drawn to patterns so symmetrical shots are typically one of the most beautiful shots for us.
You can use mirrors to create symmetrical shots on the go, or you can look for symmetry in your landscape.
Become a Foodie
photo by egal via iStock
I’m sure you didn’t expect to learn how to improve your photos while simultaneously enjoying delicious food, but sometimes you need to make sacrifices for your art.
If you’ve never practiced food photography before, it’s a whole lot more challenging than you probably expect it to be, since you’ve probably never taken photos with the ultimate goal of making your subject look edible before.
While food photography can be difficult to get into on a professional level, it is one of the highest paid photography niches available.
Find Inspiration in the Stars
photo by bjdlzx via iStock
There are a ton of photography projects you can do that don’t require anything but a clear night sky.
Astrophotography is a complex task, but it’s one that offers many different opportunities to learn advanced photography skills. If you’re ready to take your photography game up a notch, learn how to photograph the stars!
Focus on Stories
The ultimate goal of every single one of these photography projects is for you to learn how to tell a story with your photos.
With every photo you take, this should be what you have in mind. What do you want this particular shot to convey and how is it different than a similar shot you just took?
Get a few tips on telling better stories with your photos in my video above.