For me, photography is a long learning process. And one I enjoy a lot! Since I started to take photography more seriously I’ve spent most of my time trying to improve, always aspiring to make a shot that looks like those gorgeous ones I often see in G+ or 500px, etc.
Through time and practice I had a few breakthroughs, some by following other photographer’s tips, some by trial and error (a.k.a. experience).
Here is a short list of things I discovered during my early period that had a direct impact in the quality of my photos.
1. Slow Down!
One of my main problems is that I don’t slow down. When I start shooting I immediately enter in a “rush” mode and start shooting left and right without thinking of what and how I am shooting. The result is that sometimes by accident I have one or two decent shots. But most often it generates a lot of unimpressive shots.
What I need to do is to stop, look around, think and then shoot. Very easy to say but quite difficult to do. My first step was to be aware of this. This allows me to actually slow down. Or stop if I notice I’m just shooting in auto mode.
So my first and more important advice is, slow down! Take a shot, review it in you camera. Look at the framing, the borders, the horizon. Check the histogram. After you do all of this you will be ready to go back and take the next shot knowing what to change to make it better.
2. Practice, practice, practice
This is the first step you have to make if you want to start improving. If you don’t get your camera and shoot every day you’re not going to improve. Now, I know is hard to do it but there’s no other way. Getting better will nt come out of the blue if you don’t practice.
By practicing you will also learn the in and out of your camera. So much that changing settings will not be in the middle of getting a great shot.
So, grab your camera. Force you to get out and shoot. Even if is winter and -20 Celsius 🙂
3. Start a project
This is in line with putting yourself a deadline. Whenever you star a project you will run into deadlines, you will look into how to produce your next delivery, etc. In my case I am part of a Self Portrait project that requires to make a self-portrait every second week. This is perfect in these ways:
a. It puts me a deadline. The shot has to be made and publish every second Sunday.
b. It pushes me to find inspiration and new ways of doing a self-portrait
c. In this particular case it adds a technical complexity of shooting yourself without help. I learned many tricks with this project.
4. Get out of the comfort zone
We all tend to do things in our “comfort zone” . And photography is no different. In my case I would never put myself in front of the camera, and definitively not with eye makeup. But that is what the Self Portrait project forced me to do. With time I started venturing in other areas not comfortable to me, like shooting strangers in the street.
Only by doing what we don’t like we will be able to learn valuable lessons.
5. Read, ask and learn from others
Only a few, very few, have the genius spark that will let them be good from the get go. For most of us mortals we have to learn and practice. So my advice is: read and learn from others. Try different things. Make mistakes and learn from them.
This is a though one. After shooting and doing the usual Photoshop post production we will be in love with our new baby. So much that we will not notice what can be done better and what is not good.
Only through honest feedback from other people, photographers or not, we will be able to “see” what to improve. It’s hard and not easy to accept but we must ask for it.
Enjoy the journey!