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9 Good Habits For Better Photos

Upload from August 16, 2011

Photographers have habits — good and bad. There are bad ones that make you seem like a weirdo (like talking about lenses at the dinner table!). And then there are good ones that help improve your photography!

Today we’ll talk about 9 good habits. Get into these ones, and stop the dinner time photo-nerd chat.

1. See Without The Camera

Just because you don’t have a camera on hand doesn’t mean you stop being a photographer. In fact, you have two cameras built right into your head (hint: your eyes!)

You can always be looking for interesting compositions and beautiful light. The more you notice these things without a camera in front of your face, the faster you’ll be able to do it when you’re shooting.

2. Review Your Images

After a shoot take some time to go through your images. It’s fun to see the work you’ve produced, but you’ll also be able to see areas that might need improvement. Doing this soon after shooting is ideal, as everything will still be fresh in your mind, and you’ll get the most benefit out of the habit.

3. Know And Use Names

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.— Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People

This is especially important for wedding and portrait photographers. Addressing someone by their name when giving directions is much better than saying “Hey you!”. Using their name shows that you care about them, and they’re far more likely to be happy to have their photo taken!

When you meet someone new make sure you get their name and repeat it a few times in your head. If you have the opportunity to get a subject’s name before you actually meet them, then work hard to memorize it.

4. Smile

Your subjects will respond to your emotions. The more that you can show that you’re excited and happy to be photographing them, the more you’ll see those emotions reflected in the photos. You’ll find that you also enjoy the process more if you’re smiling yourself!

5. Shoot Every Day

For one thing, shooting every day is great practice and the fastest way to improve your photography. Another reason to shoot every day is to capture your own life!

You witness something interesting, beautiful, or downright spectacular everyday—if you don’t think so you need to look harder!

6. Learn

Learning new things changes the way you view the world. And that changes how you photograph the world. Photographers should never stop learning! Ever!

7. Expect Great Photos

Confession time. Even as a pro, there are many times that I find myself in a situation where I think there is nothing interesting to shoot. This can even happen when travelling in a new country, believe it or not!

Maybe you’ve done this yourself: you get back from a vacation and you’re looking through your photos. You say to yourself “Gee whiz, this place was amazing, I should have taken more photos!”. When you’re actually on vacation you quickly get used to your surroundings and you might forget how incredible it truly is.

OR! Maybe you say “Shucks, [insert where you live] is so boring, there’s absolutely nothing to shoot here.” But, if a photographer from across the world came and checked it out, you can bet that they would be snapping like crazy.

The key is to expect that there is ALWAYS a great photo to be had, no matter the situation. 

When you expect great photos you’ll start to become aware of the photographic potential all around you. Keep shooting! When you’re going through the photos later on you’ll thank yourself.

This is also true (perhaps more true!) when taking photos of people. People are constantly changing their expressions and reacting to their environment and others around them. A fantastic portrait is always waiting to be had—look for it.

8. Show Up Early, Stay Late

Being late is a bad habit. Being late to your own photoshoot is a super bad habit.

But you can do even better than being on time. If you show up early, you may actually find yourself with better photos!

See, interesting things tend to happen at the edges. You might find yourself able to capture unscripted, unplanned, and unexpected things by arriving a bit before you’re expected.

And, if you stay a bit late, after everything is “over”, you’ll again to be treated to some uncommon scenes when folks aren’t acting for the camera anymore.

9. Challenge Yourself

When you get too comfortable you stop looking for ways to improve. That’s a bad habit. You can always be improving as a photographer. You’re capable of things you haven’t even imagined yet!

Experiment with new ideas and scare yourself! Repeat doing that scary thing until it doesn’t scare you anymore and then move onto the next thing that scares you.

Making Habits

Now, there are a ton of great habits there that can really up your photographic game! But making new habits can be difficult.

So write down the habits you want to form on an index card, and read through them every day. Start with a short list, and try doing those things every day for a month. You’ll be surprised how soon you’ll be able to make them habits!

Do you have any good habits for photographers? Share them in the comments below!

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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Discussion

10 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. Great list! I love how your excitement about photography shines through your writing and that you focus on things to do right instead of telling me what I do wrong. You guys are the best. :)

    I especially noted #7 and #5: I want to go for short walks every day (perhaps around my home area) and try to find a great photo per day. I sometimes feel like I'm holding back because I expect _perfect_ photos. Since I'm no Ansel Adams I suspect I'll have a lot more fun if I just go out to see if I can make _something_ out of seemingly nothing.

    Thanks for the tips. :)

  2. Hey Christian!

    Thank you so much for the great comment! We're so glad that you enjoyed the post! And you're absolutely right, we love photography :)

    I really like that you're going to change the way you shoot on your walks! I think you've definitely got it right. Don't hold back. Take the shot!

    You might just realize it was a great shot when you get home and see it! That happens to us all the time. It's like there's something subconscious going on, and if we just take the photo, even if we think it's not spectacular, we often realize it was great when we have a bit more time to think about it!

    Thanks again for commenting!

  3. Oy..#3 is a hard one for me, especially with large groups but I'm trying!

  4. I just had an experience with #7 today! I was looking for a parking spot downtown and a tourist stopped in front of my car to take a picture of some flower boxes in a shop window. After screeching on the brakes and saying something like, "Seriously?" under my breath, I looked toward where she was shooting and thought, "Hmm, that is kind of a nice shot." Bottom line: I need to stop taking my surroundings for granted. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for commenting!

    @Tina Large groups can definitely be difficult, especially if everyone gives you their name at once. We had one bridal party introduce their names while making associations with things (ie. My name is April like the month). It was so easy to remember their names after that, so that might be something to try!

    @Bobbi Jo Thanks for sharing your experience! Photography is pretty wonderful in how it can change the way you see things that seem familiar or ordinary :)

  6. You nailed it on the head with this post. Definitely great tips for becoming a better and better photographer. Reviewing images right away is one point I specifically think is important. I also love #7 :).

  7. Thank you Susan!! Reviewing has been huge for us, glad to hear others feel it too! And #7 is one of my favs too. Not always easy to remember, but when you do it just opens up so many possibilities!

  8. Hi Lauren
    I’ve certainly enjoyed reading your blog and it has been really informative too.. Thank you..

    I totally agree with you here. I take a lot of photos whenever we go on vacations, but I never went through the images for at least two weeks .. Now I make it a point to just copy everything from the camera into a folder on the laptop, and play it in slideshow mode, unedited – so that everyone at home gets a chance to see the photos, as soon as we get back.. It has certainly done wonders to me ! =D

    ..and yes, I agree too that I feel lesser photo opportunities exist in my familiar surroundings, but then my bro comes up with an unique photo and gets me to see light =D

  9. Thank you so much for sharing. There are a couple of things that I will take on. 1. I will strive to smile more on shoots. Not that I am usually in a foul mode but I can become so focus on the task at hand that my outward expressions don’t reveal the joy and enthusiasm I feel. 2. I will work on shooting more often. I have all theses ideas in mine but I seems to be stuck behind my computer doing the mundane work that pay the bills, when all I really want to do is to be out in the air and sun, behind my camera recording life’s precious moments or creating life’s possibilities.

  10. Great list!
    I’m learning that I need to hang out more with other photographers, who can challenge and direct me, and to whom I can offer help or encouragement. Plus, it’s always fun to geek out about photo stuff with another photographer.

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