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The world of digital photography is filled with so many tips and techniques and equipment choices that you can quickly become confused and frustrated, especially if you’re a beginner or an amateur trying to advance your skills. The one technique that can make it much easier and help you become a better photographer is to shoot every day. Some days, it may only be minutes, but a steady, regular routine will force you to learn how to find great photographs and capture them with the least amount of equipment. This is where Part 1 of this two-part PhotographyTalk.com article ended: using, for example, just a DSLR and a fixed focal length lens for your daily shoots, so you learn how to do more with less.
Use a Different Lens Each Week.
You don’t have to shoot with one size lens every day, however. Instead of carrying a series of lens for each shoot, rotate your lenses during your shooting schedule and use a different one each week. Not only will you have the opportunity to learn how to use all your lenses thoroughly, but also you’ll be presented with different challenges that generate different results, enlarging your experience and portfolio. Which lenses you use is, of course, dependent on how many you have; but if you start with that 50mm fixed focal length, then try a wide angle the next week and a telephoto a week later, or take a zoom that provides both wide angle and telephoto focal lengths. One week shoot just at the wide-angle end and the next week frame all your shots at the telephoto end.
Don’t be surprised if this rotating-lens method is frustrating at first, especially if the lens you’ve chosen is new to you. Use a 50mm regularly, and then suddenly switch to a 24mm wide angle and you’re apt to find yourself trying to frame all your shots as if the 50mm was still mounted to your camera. Your goal is to become so familiar with each lens that you’re able to recognize a scene or subject that would be best composed with that lens before you even bring the camera to your eye.
Seek a Signature Approach.
One of the benefits of shooting photographs every day is that you may discover or develop an individual style that identifies your photography. As you gain more experience with your camera and lenses and learn to be creative with the elements that are available to shoot, you may begin to recognize a sign of your unique vision in most of your images. Although the kinds of photography you shoot (portraits, nature, sports, landscapes, etc.) are part of your vision, they are not the definition of your style. It has more to do with how you frame, how you use light, how you use color, how you focus or any number of other photographic techniques. This is a major step forward for most photographers because now their images say something exclusivity about them and the way they see the world. Once others recognize your style in your photos, then you’ve advanced even further.
Shoot as You Travel.
Just because any day may be a traveling day (airplane, automobile, train, bus, boat or camel) isn’t an excuse not to photograph that day. The PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—How to Shoot Pictures from the Window of an Airplane, has many tips about how to use your camera while flying. Many of them also apply to other forms of rapid conveyance.
Don’t Avoid New Challenges.
The primary excuse for not shooting every day is that you tell yourself that you can’t think of what or where to shoot. Be proactive! Think of all the kinds of photography and/or subject matter that you’ve never experienced. If you enjoy wandering alone through a park or the wilderness for all the spectacular landscapes, then one day (or a number of days) schedule yourself to spend time on the busy downtown streets of your city photographing people. If you’ve never shot waterfalls, mushrooms, flowers or cars, then first read the many PhotographyTalk.com articles with tips about these subjects and many others, choose a few (whether or not they interest you) and grab your camera and go!
Don’t Forget the Other Half of the Day.
Maybe, the easiest way to shoot different subject matter is to simply schedule your daily photo session at night. Depending on the time of year and where you live on the globe, there are approximately another 12 hours of the day that many photographers seem to forget exist. Not only will you find subject matter that is only available after dark, but also you’ll discover that familiar subjects become entirely different when photographed at night. Another idea is to schedule your daily shoot on a Saturday for 4:00 am, so you can capture a series of images of your city, town or neighborhood coming alive.
Backup Your Work.
Part of your daily photo shoot should be the immediate backup of whatever you shot that day, at the end of the day. You’ll be recording images every day, and at some point in this process, your photos will improve and you’ll have some that you’ll want to be absolutely sure are safe, secure, duplicated and stored at more than one location. If you do it every day, then you can use the energy you expend stressing over the possibilities of losing files to shoot more and better digital photos.