I assume you’re reading this because you have a sincere interest in photography. I also assume you want to get better.
Recently, a fellow I know asked me a simple question. “As a newbie, what are the things I can do right now to get better at photography?”
Rather than answer him directly, I thought I’d share my answer here where everyone can see it. So here are seven things you can do if you REALLY want to become a better photographer. NOTE: There are other things you can do too – these are just the seven that pop into my head right now.
1 – Always have a camera in your hand or your pocket or your purse or your car or all of the above. Always. No exceptions.
2 – Read your manual – please. 90% of the camera questions I receive on Photofocus can be answered by reading a camera manual. In fact, when I am asked questions about cameras I don’t own, I simply go download a PDF of the manual, search for and read the answer. You can do that too 🙂
3 – Photograph SOMETHING every single day. No exceptions. No excuses. Photograph as much as you can every single day. Don’t just take a snapshot, make a picture. Think about what you’re doing. Focus. Pun intended.
4 – Look at LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of photographs every day. Look at published photographs in books, magazines, on billboards, in advertisements and on the web. Ask yourself – “Why did they light it like that?” or “Why did she put the subject on that side of the photo?” or “What made the editor select this shot over another?” Asking serious questions of yourself about the photos you look at will make you think.
5 – Experiment. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try different angles. Shoot during different times of day. Get outside your comfort zone.
6 – Read. Read something about photography every single day – no excuses. Take five, 10 or even 15 minutes and study the articles found on this site and others. Buy a book by Scott Kelby. Go to the library and ask for photography books. Read, study, learn, apply.
7 – Share. Show your work to others. Ask them how it stacks up to the work they see in newspapers, books and magazines. Be willing to experience some criticism and see if you can use that information to get better.
There’s no magic camera that “takes good pictures.” Photographers do that. The camera just waits to be told what to do. Try practicing these seven steps regularly and you’ll become a better boss of your camera.