10 Ways to Improve your Photography

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Learning photography is a process and one many would say is a never ending one.  Below you will find 10 recommendations to improve your photography.  If you do these you will notice an immediate improvement.

  1. Be Deliberate:  When it is possible start slowing down and being deliberate about the photographs you make.  Don’t simply snap away and then pick the best of a series.  Slow down and know the kind of photograph you are going to make before you click the shutter.
  2. Set Goals:  It is always important to have goals in mind for anything you take serious.  This way you have something to strive for and measure against.  It is hard to become the photographer you want to be if you don’t already have in mind what that looks like.
  3. Continue your Education:  There is always something and/or someone to learn from.  If you want to be better at anything seek knowledge and understanding.  If you don’t feel you need to learn anything you are stepping in the wrong direction.  Make sure to consider my book "Understanding the Basics of Exposure" as part of your education.  Especially if you are just getting started.  You can find that under the "Learn Photography" Tab of this website.
  4. Seek a Photographic Community:  Iron sharpens iron.  Find a group of like minded individuals to communicate with, vent too, help out, and get help from.  This is not only a great way to continue your education but can also help others continue theirs.  If you have frustrations these communities can help you get past those.  There is a caveat with this one however.  If you find that you are on forums where the “internet trolls” reside you could do yourself more harm than good.  Seek out a community that helps one another, provides encouragement, and is honest while providing helpful critiques (when requested).  Camera Clubs are perfect examples of wonderful photographic communities.  If you find one then join right in and enjoy the good company. 
  5. Get the Proper Gear:  I know, if you have read ahead at all this sounds in opposition to number 7 but hear me out.  No photograph has ever been taken without the use of equipment.  The equipment we use is vital to what we do.  Make sure that you have the equipment you need to best perform the type of photography you wish to focus on.  Basically, if all you have is a 15mm fish eye lens then sports photography might not be in your future.  It doesn’t have to be the most expensive or even new.  But equipment is necessary to a degree.
  6. Fully Understand the Equipment you use:  I have seen some really terrible photos come out of $6,000.00 cameras because the owner had no idea what they were doing.  Know your equipment inside and out.  I am not just talking about the camera either.  Know your lenses, flashes, triggers, tripods…  everything!  If you are unsure of how something works stick with it until it makes perfect sense.
  7. Do not Focus on getting all the Gear:  Now, in number 5 I mentioned that you need the proper gear.  The key word is “Proper”.  Collecting gear can be nearly as much fun as taking the photos.  I am living proof of that.  However, when the gear itself becomes the main focus your skills start to wan and before long you are collecting more than shooting.  If that is what you want then fine.  Just don’t expect to become a better photographer by simply collecting the gear.
  8. Get a Portfolio Review from a Trusted Professional:  Ouch.  This one can be the hardest one to deal with.  It is tough to hear what you are doing wrong especially in photography because we personalize our work.  However, if you truly want to improve your work find a professional whose work you admire and contact them.  Many of them will do online portfolio reviews for a nominal fee.  It is worth the time and the pain.
  9. Tackle a new post processing technique each week:  Programs like Lightroom and especially Photoshop can be daunting.  You are not going to learn them all in a day so don’t even try.  What you can do is pick one aspect of post processing each week to master.  Stick with it until you get it solid and it is committed to memory.  In a years time you will be a master.
  10. Get off the Couch:  This is the most important advice I can give you.  Get off the couch or away from your desk and make more photographs!  The more you shoot the more you learn.  The more you shoot the better you will understand your equipment and how it interacts with the light.

These are my top 10 ways for you to become a better photographer.  What other ideas do you have?  Leave a comment and we will discuss them right here!