If you want to improve your photography, here are some practical suggestions:
- Don’t Skip Over “The Basics”
Lot’s of people just use their camera in fully automatic mode and never take advantage of all of the wonderful capabilities built into the camera. The first step to better photographs is to understand the fundamentals of photography and how to operate your camera. I offer a Photography 101 Fundamentals of Great Photography Course that is a good starting point.
- It’s Really About the Art of Photography
While it’s tempting to think that advanced photography is about all that geeky stuff like apertures, shutter speeds, depth of field, exposure compensation, white balance, (I could go on forever), the real goal is the art of photography. The technical stuff is just the means to that end. The more you know the technical stuff, the more you are able to create what you envision and you are no longer at the mercy of the fully automatic modes that limit your control. In my Photography 101 course, I don’t just focus on the technical side. We also explore a bit about the art of photography and about the meaningfulness of this art form in our world.
- Advance Your Skills, Advance Your Art
I can only cover so much in Photography 101. There are numerous more advanced techniques to further enhance your photographic skills which I cover in my Photography: Mastering the Fundamentals Workshop. That’s a day long class where we push deeper into important technical aspects that can help you create consistently better photographs. Again, the whole purpose for this focus on the technical, is to eventually move beyond the technical, to the art.
- Have You Stopped Progressing in Your Photography?
If you keep focusing on doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting similar results. It is really important to push yourself beyond your current skills, to explore different aspects of the art and science of photography. I have a workshop for that, called Rekindle, which I offer upon request. We just need a few students to organize a session of this great class. This might be just what you need to break out of “doing the same old thing.”
- It’s Sure Not About the Megapixels and Fancy Gear
You’ll find that beautiful art, captivating images do not have to be created with high megapixel cameras and the finest lenses. Good art is about composition, light, balance, proportion, story telling, posing, timing, concept, emotion, none of which has to to do with megapixels.
- Don’t Upgrade Your Gear Until You Know Why You Are Doing It
Slick marketing and dazzling lists of “features” can tempt us to go out and spend thousands of dollars, only to find our photographs aren’t any better. You might be lured into buying a new camera, when in fact a specific lens might be more helpful. Or maybe what you need to do is buy a new tripod instead of a new camera or lenses. Yes there are compelling reasons to buy new gear, but be sure you know what problem you think you are solving by making that purchase, otherwise think twice.
- Before and After Firing the Shutter
I am a big believer in getting the image right in-camera as much as possible. Pay attention to those factors that ensure excellent images, the right depth of field, an appropriate shutter speed, all kinds of camera settings, BUT this does not mean your job is done once you fire the shutter! You can do SO much to enhance images and to create beautiful digital art using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and other software and image editing plugins. I offer classes in both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, usually adding them as students make requests for more classes.
- Explore Other Aspects of Photography
Keep pushing yourself to try new things, such as High Dynamic Range Photography and Painting with Light and other fun activities.
- Study Light
This is really important: STUDY LIGHT. The more you focus on getting the light right, the more you will find your photography improving. Light is beyond the camera. It is out there, in front of the camera. It’s not a camera setting, although camera settings DO matter. Managing light, shaping it, softening it, diffusing it, reflecting it, blocking it, enhancing it, coloring it is all part of the job of creating better images. And… by the way… I have a class for that: Light & Photography Workshop 😉
- Make Mistakes
Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Don’t just keep doing what you have always done. Go beyond that. Make mistakes, and then learn from your mistakes. If you are not making mistakes, you are not pushing yourself hard enough. Try things you have never tried before. Expand your skills and learn more.