Practice, practice, practice…
Practice is the key to becoming a better photographer.
Just like any acquired skill, you aren’t born with the skills you need to immediately snap amazing, breathtaking photos that everyone wants to see.
For years, photographers have honed their craft through practice. In the digital age it has become even easier. You once had to invest in film and the cost to develop it. Now—once you buy the camera—you don’t have any excuse not to take as many images as possible.
With time and plenty of practice, you will become a better photographer. You’ll start to learn how light reacts, how your camera controls work, and how to anticipate what your subject will look like in a final print.
But, chances are, you don’t want to wait through years of practice to get great images. Here are some tips you can use right now to improve your photography today.
1. Discover Your Vision and Perspective
Pick one object in your home that seems plain. Photograph it from 10 different angles with different lighting conditions. Try each of the 10 with different focal lengths.
What’s the point?
It’s an old photography school trick. I was once assigned a project just like this. The entire photography class had to take pictures of an everyday object that we were given—a paper bag. We were told to do the same thing. 10 angles with changing lighting conditions and at least 3 different focal lengths.
The results interesting, visually appealing, and different for everyone. At the end of the assignment, we were one step closer to discovering our personal photographic vision. Once you have your “vision,” you’ll understand how you want objects to look and interact with light and angles. It’s an important step that you can discover with this simple process.
2. Simplify Everything
Make everything as simple as possible. Simplicity breeds ingenuity and forces learning.
Go out and get a Pentax K1000 film camera with a 50mm lens. Shoot one roll of film every day for one week. Repeat this process once a month. There’s a process that will make you a much better photographer.
Why? Because it simplifies everything.
Force yourself to only use a single focal length. Zoom with your feet. Set your camera to manual and force yourself to shoot at a single aperture.
When you remove variables, you have to focus on your subject and the art of creating a visually interesting image. Without distraction, your images will have better composition.
3. Take Pictures of What You Know
Plan a project that is focused on a subject that you understand.
Creating a visually interesting photograph requires visualization. You need to be able to imagine multiple creative possibilities for a subject. Photographing something that you know well—perhaps a related hobby or interest—allows you to better understand all of the ways you can look at something.
At the heart of artistic photography and images that “stand out” is the idea that the photographer is capturing a “new” perspective on something, or using the medium to tell a story. It’s much easier to use a subject to tell a story if you have an intimate knowledge of it already.
4. Take Your Camera Everywhere
Don’t leave your house without your camera. Bring it on your commute. Take it to work and carry it on your lunch break. Have your camera with you when you go out with friends.
Always having your camera with you increases creative possibilities. If you take your camera with you everywhere, you will also have more “happy accidents.” If you take enough images, a few of them are almost guaranteed to be excellent.
5. Keep Learning and Never Stop
Don’t ever stop learning.
Right this minute, you are advancing your photography knowledge. If you keep learning everything you can about your camera, composition and the art of photography, you will improve.