Five Ways to Improve Your Photography
Photography is a popular hobby these days, some people enjoy it so much they even seek to use it as a secondary source of income, or follow their dreams and attempt to do it full time. One problem a lot of new photographers have is that they’re not really sure where to get started or how to improve their work. There’s a lot of information about and it can be hard to cut through the clutter and remember anything. However, using these five simple techniques you should see a drastic improvement in your photography in a months time.
1) Read more Blogs
There are literally thousands of photography blogs out there, and while some aren’t worth the digital ink they’re printed on, others continue to inspire, inform and help push photographers to their potential. Some personal favorites of mine include the Strobist blog, which is all about lighting, both on ways to light on a budget for the new photographer and break downs on how the pros use their lighting. Another great resource is the “Going Pro” blog written by Skip Cohen. He brings in long time pros to talk about all aspects of becoming a pro photographer, and while that may not be your goal with photography, you can certainly learn a lot. Other great blogs include the personal works of people like Jasmine Star (Wedding Photography), Joey L (commercial and portraiture specialist) and Zach Arias (Editorial and Music Photographer).
2) Look at more pictures
One of the quickest ways to grow as a photographer is to immerse yourself in photography. Get on flickr or 500px and look at photos. Both popular, and recent uploads. Take note of pictures you like, and add them to your favorites, or download them into a folder for inspiration. Do not stop there though, dig deeper into each image, ask yourself what the photographers intentions were with the image, ask about the lighting and the camera settings. Even dig into the details. Sometime the photographer didn’t plan minor details, but they make the image, can you draw from this?
3)Take (a lot) more pictures
One of the easiest ways to improve in photography is to simply go shoot more photos. Try to make it a month long goal to shoot at least 10 photos a day. Force yourself to pick up your camera and make images, take it with you everywhere you go. Before you know it, you will start to see the world a lot differently. Images will start to appear anywhere and carrying your camera around will not be such a hassle anymore. You do not even need to lug around a DSLR, a simple point and shoot, or Iphone can do the trick. Make sure to vary your assignments though. Try to shoot landscapes, portraits, events, concerts, architecture, etc. Try to hit as many types of photography as possible. You will quickly see an improvement in your photos by the end of the month.
4) Share your photos and ask for Critiques
This is without a doubt the hardest step. Uploading your images to a variety of sites to get them seen can be difficult and time consuming. However by becoming a part of a community you can get advice on what you can improve in your work and compliments to keep you going. The trouble is that often it can be difficult to find a good critique of your work that isn’t just one or two positive sentences. When you do find those sources you can be quick to dismiss the overwhelming negativity. One way around this is to get a close group of photographer friends together to be as harsh as possible about each others images. By taking a harsh and critical eye to everything, everyone will be sure to improve.
5) Learn the limitations of your gear
Too often I find out that photographer friends feel “limited” by what they can and can not do with their gear. Sadly, many of them do not even know exactly where the limits of their gear are! Take an hour or two to read the manual cover to cover, and take notes. Odds are you will learn at least 10 new things you never knew your camera could do. If that doesn’t push your limits, than consider going out to shoot sometime with just a single lens. To get the most out of this exercise you will want a fixed focal length (aka prime) lens, and if you do not have any, consider renting or borrowing one. In a pinch you can just keep your zoom lens dialed in at a specific focal length. By doing so you will force yourself to see things differently and try new angles and perspectives. You may be shocked to find out that you can still get good shots even with your “limited” gear.
No matter how you approach photography, the way to improvement is the same. Get out there and immerse yourself in photography. Bring a camera everywhere and take a lot of pictures. Talk to everyone you meet about photography and your goals with it. If you keep at it you can improve by leaps in bounds in just a few short weeks. If you continue at it you can see success in your photography in no time.