I constantly tell new photographers that one of the best ways to become a better photographer is to look at lots of published photographs. Seeing how other photographers did it, looking at their success, can give you a great understanding of what is possible. Knowing what is possible is the first step toward learning.
But how do you actually LOOK at a photograph to get the best advantage of this exercise?
Here are some ideas
1. Don’t just look – analyze – think about the photograph. What was the photographer’s main subject? What story was he/she trying to tell with their camera? What mood does the image evoke?
2. Deconstruct the image. How did they do that? What camera or lens did they use? Where is the light? How many lights? What angle is the light? What aperture/shutter speed was used? Were there any special effects applied in post?
3. Stand in the photographer’s shoes. Ask yourself what you would do better, worse, or differently had YOU been the one taking the picture.
Don’t just thumb through a bunch of photographs and expect to get better. Actually LOOK at and think about each image if you want to improve.