If You Can Do These Things Daily, You’ll Become a Better Photographer
Learning photography can be a daunting task.
Between learning how to use your camera (let alone knowing which one is right for you), mastering exposure, becoming skilled at composition, and so forth, there’s a lot to soak up about creating beautiful photos.
But the beauty of photography is that it’s a process - not something that you have to learn in the span of a few days, weeks, months, or even years.
In that regard, becoming a better photographer is all about a commitment to maintaining your learning over the long haul.
And the best way to learn in the long-term?
Tackle it on a daily basis.
With that in mind, here are six things you can do today (and every day) to become a better photographer.
Learn Different Types of Photography
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You buy a new camera because you like taking photos of landscapes, then pretty much all you do is photograph landscapes. There’s few - if any - portraits. No street scenes. No variety in your shots.
That, my friend, is called getting into a rut.
Now, I’m not saying that over time you can’t or shouldn’t focus on your favorite type of photography.
Instead, what I’m saying is that by exploring photographic pursuits outside your primary area of interest, you are able to develop a better skillset.
For example, if you enjoy portrait photography, the chances are that you’ll learn how to frame a nice portrait and use lighting to your advantage to make that portrait more dramatic. But, by taking those skills into the realm of landscape photography, you’re able to see how framing and lighting can be used in a totally new context.
As a result, your ability to compose a dramatic shot and use lighting to your advantage will be increased.
So, stretch your boundaries. Use the skills you have in different situations so you can challenge yourself to hone those skills, and learn new ones!
Learn a New Way to Spice Up Your Photos
In addition to branching out into different types of photography, if you can take some time each day to learn a new photography technique, you’ll certainly become a better photographer.
This can happen in a couple of different ways.
First, you might explore techniques to add visual interest to your photos. For example, you might experiment with different angles of view by getting down really low to the ground for a worm’s eye perspective or finding a high vantage point to take a photo from a bird’s eye view.
You might also consider compositional elements like the rule of thirds or using leading lines to add greater balance or depth to your shots.
Secondly, there is a wealth of things you can do in post-processing to make your photos more interesting. YouTube is a fantastic resource for photographers, with thousands and thousands of how-to videos on just about any type of post-processing technique you can think of.
In the video above, Marcin Mikus offers up a Photoshop tutorial for sharpening your images in the quickest and easiest way possible. It’s just four minutes long, but by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to get sharper photos.
And, sharpening your photos is a great way to create more visual impact and spice things up!
Ask Questions and Get Feedback
When I started in photography, there weren’t photography forums and chatrooms online where I could easily ask for clarification or advice.
Today, there is no such excuse!
Having someone that you can bounce ideas off of won’t just help you from a creative standpoint (i.e. “What do you think of the composition of this shot?”) but it can also help you master technical skills that you struggle with.
Exposure settings come immediately to mind in this situation.
For beginning photographers, mastering exposure is probably one of the more difficult tasks. But, if you’re part of a photography forum or a local photography club, you can seek the help you need from more experienced photographers to get clarification on the topics you don’t quite understand.
Feedback is a crucial component of this as well.
If you have a mentor or a photography buddy, you have someone that can offer critical feedback to help you improve your photos. There’s no point in striving to take photos every day if you don’t share them with others and solicit their opinions!
Part of your growth as a photographer is to learn what works and what doesn’t work, and having a fresh set of eyes inspect your photos will help you clarify what you should and shouldn’t be doing.
Keep Your “Fails”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m out shooting and I don’t like a photo, I’m pretty quick on the delete button.
But that’s not the way to become a better photographer.
In fact, many would argue that hanging onto those “fails” and reviewing them later can have a huge difference in the way you create photos.
As you learn and grow as a photographer, you will acquire the ability to see things in images that you weren’t able to see when you were just starting out.
That means that all those photos that you branded as epic fails might, later on, end up having some redeeming qualities that you can work with later on when you have more photography skills at your disposal.
That’s not to say that every photo will be something you can save. But at the very least, taking a few minutes to look through your old images is a great way to see how your skills have changed and how you’ve developed your creative eye over time.
Intentionally Restrict Yourself
Ok, ok, I know this sounds contradictory to the whole point of this article, but trust me on this, it’ll work!
By restricting yourself in some way - say, only shooting with your smartphone for a week - you can work on specific skills without the worry of other stuff causing you stress.
So, using the smartphone idea as an example, you can work on things like noticing light and shadow, framing shots, using the rule of thirds, and other compositional tricks that don’t require a full-blown camera.
What’s more, you can restrict yourself in terms of the subject matter. Try taking nothing but portraits for a few days, then nothing but shots of nature, then nothing but cityscapes.
Doing so forces you focus on how you apply central rules and techniques of photography in that one particular space, while at the same time forcing yourself to look for the most compelling and unique shots.
The result? Better photos across the spectrum of your work!