No matter where you’re coming from, the path to follow is always the same: a combination of challenging yourself, looking around, and searching within. Don’t worry, you won’t need to hike the Himalayan mountains in search of mystic Buddhist temples, just follow these ten tips and see how fast your photography skills will improve.
Start a project
As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. Photography projects are an amazing way to organize your creative targets and figure out how to bring them to life. Find a topic that interests you and set a deadline or roadmap to use as a guide. Popular themes include taking a photo a day (or a week) for a year, shooting self-portraits impersonating different characters, or photographing silhouettes. If you need more inspiration, take a look at these outstanding creative photography projects by Wix users.
Limit your options
You have probably heard the phrase “less is more” a handful of times in your life. In photography, this is applicable not only to compositions, but also to the relation between gear and creativity. As you immerse yourself in this wonderful world of imagery, you might find your backpack more and more crowded. While having more lenses and camera accessories will widen your technical options in certain situations, it can also have a negative effect on your ability to think outside the box. Challenge yourself by using only a prime lens and see how it influences the way you see and move around each scene and composition.
Master your gear
It’s not about the camera you have, but rather about how well you can use it. This is one of the most basic photography tips for beginners, yet only a small percentage actually follow it. Start by reading your camera instructions. If you haven’t done so before, you’ll find at least one setting or tool you didn’t know of, even if you have had the same camera for years. Once you’re done with the theory, put it into practice. Focus on one setting at the time and don’t move forward until you fully understand what it does, how to control it, and when to use it.
Be more selective
One of the most beautiful parts of film photography is learning how to use your tools to perfectly capture the image that you have in your mind. When doing so, your chances of executing this in the nik of time are limited, which means that you won’t be able to check how your shots turned out to modify your camera settings in that instant. This is one of the most painful losses that comes hand-in-hand with digital photography. Nowadays, most photographers shoot hundreds of pictures of the same scene in hopes that at least a couple will turn out okay. However, forcing yourself to work as if you were using an analog camera will make you think twice before every shot. This restrictiveness will result in a significantly lower number of images that are of much higher quality. On top of that, this practice will do wonders for your technical skills.
Study others’ work
Being able to see images captured by people all over the world is one of the biggest benefits of social media for photographers. Rather than mindlessly scrolling and double-tapping every other picture, take the time to analyze the work of the people you follow. Ask yourself: what draws you to their account in the first place? Which elements make you like each picture? How do they maintain their personal view and style in every shot? This will give you an idea of what your aesthetic vision is, after which you can start thinking about how to apply it to your own work. Don’t limit these studies to the Internet or even to photography. Pay attention to the work of artists from different fields and see how you relate to their paintings, movies, or documentaries.
Get a review
Having your work judged by a professional is one of the most terrifying and valuable experiences you might encounter as a photographer. Beginners may benefit from having their images seen by nearly any professional photographer, as their requirements will undoubtedly be more basic. Experienced photographers, however, should aim to show their portfolio to experts in the field who will be able to provide a more detailed and refined comment.
Enroll in classes
Learning is something that one should never stop doing in their entire life. As a photographer, you should be constantly searching for new ways to improve your photography skills. One of the more obvious approaches to this is signing-up to different courses. If time or location is an issue, you’ll be happy to here that there are thousands of online photography classes that you can take from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. Simply identify the topics that you’re struggling with the most, find the right course for you, and start learning.
Create a website
If you haven’t built an online portfolio yet, clear your schedule for the next few hours and get to it right away. You’ll be surprised with how much creating a professional photography website can teach you about your own work. For starters, you’ll need to really look at your photos in order to determine what makes them different from other people’s work. Then, you’ll need to see how that relates to the image you want to project as a professional photographer. In addition to putting your name out into the world, creating a photography website is the perfect exercise for self-reflection and improvement.
Read photography blogs
This might sound biased, but online publications are one of the best ways to improve your photography skills. Where else can you find bite-sized lessons on everything related to photography at absolutely no cost? Tips and guides on web design, business development, online promotion, marketing, inspiration: you name it. To make it even better, you can subscribe and have all this knowledge delivered straight to your inbox. Did we mention that it’s completely free?
Find your inspiration
A muse, so to speak. It’s hard to push yourself to work harder when there isn’t something inside you that motivates you to do so. Try to remember when and why you fell in love with photography in the first place. Look for a subject that you could photograph in different ways over and over again without getting tired of it. Think about the photographer you would like to become and of that dream shot you’d love to capture.