Im going to share an exercise with you that is so simple, some of you may have trouble believing it can work. But it does.
Over the years Ive shared this with hundreds of photographers – in person, at workshops, seminars, etc. Ive also extended this information via blogs and podcasts to countless thousands.
Of those who have gotten back to me to let me know about their progress, 100% have agreed that it works.
So whats the magic? Read on and be prepared to be surprised.
Remember this costs you no money. It shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes a day, if that. You can do this starting today (I hope you will) and the sooner you start – the sooner you will finish.
In order to be the best photographer you can be, do the following steps, every single day (or as close to every single day as you can) for the next year.
Read a page from your camera manual every day. Which page? Any page. The idea is to mark each page youve read with a Post-it Note or some other method that lets you know what youve covered. You can start at the front or back or middle of the manual. It doesn’t matter. Just read a page every day. Then immediately do step two. (This method will allow you to read your entire camera manual one page at a time and over the course of the year, it should enable you to read it several times through. Theres no better way to get to know your tools.)
After you read the page in your camera manual, immediately grab your camera and practice the function described. For instance, if you read the page about a depth-of-field preview button, go find that button and practice using it. If you read the page about locking up your mirror, go find the menu function that causes the mirror to lock up and test it. (By practicing with each function of your camera you learn how to do things that you will need to know when you get into the field. Even if youre practicing things you think you won’t need, stick with it. You never know when some obscure function in your camera will be a life-saver.)
After you have read a page in your manual and then practiced it, go out and take a picture of something – anything. It doesn’t matter what your subject is. Its only important to go make a photograph. (Handling your camera every single day is important if you want to stay focused (pun intended) and if you want the camera to become like an extension of your mind.)
Go online or to a bookstore or to a library and look at lots of published photographs. Don’t just glance at them. Carefully look at each one and determine what you do or don’t like about the image. Think about what the photographer was going for. Ask yourself where the light is coming from. Try to figure out how you might duplicate the effort. (Professional writers always tell me that the best way to become a better writer is to read. That goes for photographers too. If you want to become a better photographer, look at lots of photographs.)
Congratulations! You have now been exposed to the four simple things you need to accomplish in order to become the best photographer you can be.
I hope that you will give this a try. Its something every photographer can do and it won’t cost you a dime. If you doubt that these exercises will make much of a difference in your photography, just give it a try. Most people see results in just a matter of weeks.