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I’ve been writing a lot of articles about different photography exercises you can do from home during stay at home orders, and the one thing all of these photography techniques have in common is that they’re going to help you take better photos.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t progressed in my life as much as I’ve wanted to this year and reading different news articles about the impressive things some people are doing during this pandemic has put a lot of pressure on me. But, let’s be honest, most of us will probably come out of this pandemic without knowing how to create homemade bread or without being in good enough shape to run a marathon.
So, instead of focusing on these large goals, I’m focusing on one. I want to take better photos, and I’m inviting you to improve your photography with me.
Ask for Criticism
photo by FangXiaNuo via iStock
As a people pleaser, I’m always asking for criticism from the people who are closest to me, like my wife. But, as a photographer, I need other photographers to help me critique my work.
It’s one of the reasons why I joined a local Facebook group for photographers. It’s also one of the reasons why I’ve taken a number of community college courses in photography over the years.
There’s really no need to reinvent the wheel if you want to take better photos. You simply need to ask other people for help.
photo by annebaek via iStock
While you don’t have to take all of the advice other photographers give you, having an unbiased set of eyes look at your work and give you some photography tips may help you see something you never would have seen on your own.
Plus, if you’re willing to do the same thing for other photographers, you should have no problem finding willing volunteers. I’ve even created some lifetime friends using this technique to learn how to take better photos.
Adopt a New Perspective
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This is one of my favorite beginner photography tips because it forces you to get out of your comfort zone. In order to take better photos, you need to change your perspective.
This means you need to be comfortable crawling around on the ground or climbing a tree. Simply by photographing something you would normally photograph at eye height from a different vantage point, you can learn all sorts of things about composition, color, and contrast.
Since adopting a new perspective can be pretty easy to do for kids, I actually take my son on “adventures” where I challenge him to find me something interesting to photograph. As a father, sometimes you need to get creative about working in your hobby to childcare time. He loves it and it’s led to me being able to take better photos.
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The first step to learning how to take better photos is learning how to plan a photoshoot and being intentional with it.
You need to sit down and figure out what you want to accomplish from every photoshoot you do. Do you want to tell a story? Do you want to create a set of photos that all have a binding theme?
Some of my favorite photo projects, like The Struggle to Right Oneself by Kerry Skarbakka, span decades and yet every photo in the project sticks to one theme. The work by Skarbakka started after a series of horrors in his life. He wanted every image to portray the feeling of having the world pulled out from under you.
Use All of Your Settings
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If you really want to take better photos, then you need to understand what your camera can and cannot do.
So, challenge yourself to find the settings on your camera that you are uncomfortable with. Once you’ve found them, set your camera on those settings and refuse to change them until you’ve completely mastered it.
I usually do this with my new cameras. It was the way I learned how to take better photos when I was a beginning photographer.
Limit Yourself to a Specific Number of Shots
Photo by djedzura via iStock
This tip for learning how to take better photos is really similar to the one above. You need to force yourself to get more comfortable with your artistic eye. One way to do this is to take your smallest memory card out on a shoot with you.
Spray and pray may have worked for your father back in the 80s, but it's not the best technique for a budding photographer to constantly rely on.
Print Your Best Photos
photo by Rawpixel via iStock
After you’ve learned how to take better photos, you’ll want to proudly display those photos on your wall.
I don’t know what it is about printing photos, but it’s always helped me understand what I love about my photography and what I still want to change about it. Plus, it’s nice to get a little love for my photos when friends or family come over.
I typically print my photos on canvas, since this is a pretty cheap option that still looks high-end and modern.
I use CanvasHQ to print my photos for a few reasons. The first is the price point. I can print a canvas photo for as little as $20 on CanvasHQ. But, the second reason why I use CanvasHQ is almost as important.
Whereas you could spend around $20 to get your photo printed at Walmart, your photo will undoubtedly look horrible. Whereas large photo printers use crappy ink and canvas, CanvasHQ uses high-quality ink that is rated to last up to a century and canvas that is museum-grade quality.
CanvasHQ also hand builds every single one of their canvas frames, which means you won’t need to worry about your frame warping or your ink cracking even decades down the line.
Since all of their canvases are handcrafted, you can also get a huge array of different sizes to fit your exact needs.