No matter how good a photographer you are, there is always room to improve your skills. You may have been snapping for years, or perhaps you’ve only just picked up a camera. Either way, you should always strive to better yourself. Photography is a noble hobby that requires intense observation, mindfulness, and a unique perspective on the world. It is a fantastic way to make a living, but it is also a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself. It allows you to capture fleeting moments of beauty and transfer their essence into a format that will preserve them forever.
There is great satisfaction in self-improvement. Setting yourself a challenge to take better photos and master certain techniques will make you a more talented photographer and bring you a sense of achievement and pride. Not to mention the professional and financial opportunities you can enjoy.
If you want to become a master of your craft, here are some valuable pieces of advice to make you a better photographer.
Take a picture every day
Getting better at anything requires constant practice, and photography is no different. It’s said that you need 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field, so you’ll need to put the hours in. Set yourself the challenge of taking at least one photo every day. This will help you to keep your skills sharp and see the world from a photographic perspective. And it doesn’t have to be anything momentous. Look for the little moments of beauty in your daily life and capture them in a photo. Bring your camera with you wherever you go so you’re always prepared when an opportunity presents itself.
Prioritize learning over expensive gear
You could have the most expensive gear in the world, your own studio, and the best editing software there is. That still wouldn’t make you a great photographer. Far more important than owning the fanciest hardware is knowing what to do with it. You should prioritize learning how to take great photos above all else. Study great photographs for inspiration and brush up on photographic methods to improve your compositions. Techniques such as the rule of thirds, the exposure triangle, and creating a sense of depth are all core components in any photographer’s toolkit. You can take good-quality photos on any smartphone, so don’t feel like you have to spend thousands on a high-end camera.
Understand your camera
Even if you have a fantastic camera, it’s not going to do you much good if you don’t know how to use it. In order to make the most of your photography equipment, you’ll need to know exactly how it works and all the different features and functions it offers. When you’re shooting in the field, you want your actions to be second nature so that you can focus on the subject and nothing else. If you’re having to continually stop and think about operating the camera, you’ll be taking yourself out of the right mindset and might miss a golden opportunity for a brilliant photo. Take some time to read the manual to familiarise yourself with your camera. Who knows, you might even discover some useful features that you weren’t aware of.
Use the Golden Hour
The best photographers know the best times of day to shoot their subjects in order to get the best possible light. The moments just after dawn and just before sunrise are known as the Golden Hour, as they provide the perfect lighting conditions. Some of the most beautiful landscape photographs you’ve seen will have been taken at this time, as it creates the ideal combination of hues, tones, and shadows that will make any picture look impressive. Getting up early and staying out late requires commitment, but expertise never comes easy.
Practice with a traditional film camera
Photographers are spoiled these days. Digital cameras allow you to take as many photos as you like, regardless of quality. You can snap hundreds of shots and simply discard the ones you don’t like at the end of the day. Back in the day, photographers didn’t have this luxury. They shot on film, which was notoriously expensive, and so they would have to be careful about when they pressed the shutter. As a result, they took more care in their work, only shooting when they were certain they had the perfect shot. If you want to bring this level of attention to your work, occasionally shoot with traditional film. You will be limited to a fixed number of photos, so you will take the time to craft each one more carefully, and the results will undoubtedly be a great improvement.
Study other photographers
One of the best ways to become an expert in any area is to learn from the best. Every photographer will have their own unique style and way of working, but some tips and techniques are universal. Study great photos and artists you admire to gain inspiration for your own work. Reach out to professionals and ask them for advice on how to improve. Take time to regularly visit galleries and exhibitions, and watch documentaries about photography. Immerse yourself in the subject, and you will absorb huge amounts of information to help you get better.
Teach someone else photography
A quote often attributed to Einstein claims that if you can’t explain your area of expertise to an amateur, you don’t understand it well enough. Whether he said it or not, there is a great deal of truth in it. Teaching a craft requires you to articulate and simplify important complicated concepts, which helps you keep information fresh in your mind and ensures that you fully comprehend it. Your mentee will undoubtedly ask a huge number of questions, which will help you keep your brain sharp and focused on techniques and methods. Your work may also benefit from a fresh pair of eyes glancing over it. A new perspective may highlight flaws and areas for improvement you hadn’t noticed. Find a willing friend or family member who wants to learn about photography and take some time to provide helpful guidance.
Experiment with new techniques
You probably have your own style, but it pays to be flexible and try new things. Escaping your comfort zone is one of the best ways to grow as a photographer. It helps you learn new methods and strategies for taking the best photos, and may even guide your portfolio down a different, more exciting path. Why not experiment with time-lapse or macro photography? Or you could shoot at night, in black and white or in monochromatic color. Stretching your abilities forces you to learn new techniques and ways of working, and you will become a better and more rounded photographer as a result.
Don’t rely on post-processing
Editing your photos in Photoshop or Lightroom is sometimes essential for giving them a little more sharpness or color, but you shouldn’t rely too heavily on this. Over-dependence on post-process editing can make you lazy when it comes to things like exposure and composition. Don’t let it do all the work for you. The best photographers aim to take the perfect photo, so it requires no editing at all.
Protect your work
Once you’ve taken a photo, it becomes an incredibly valuable treasure that only exists on film or in your camera’s hard drive. It is a memory captured in the moment, that can easily disappear in the blink of an eye and be lost forever. As a photographer, you should treat each photo like a prized possession, and do whatever you can to protect it. Upload your photos to your computer after each shoot, and back them up on an external hard drive at least once a week, so they are safe if anything happens to your computer. There are several models of hard drive you can use depending on your storage needs. Visit Best External Hard Drives for product reviews and best-of lists to help you make your decision.
Becoming a master photographer takes time and effort, but with enough practice and time spent shooting and learning techniques, you can achieve mastery of your craft. Follow these tips, and before long, each and every photo you take will be a masterpiece.