Photography is a lifelong pursuit. Progress and improvement often take years—if not decades. And that’s cool! You will never run out of amazing things to learn about!
But we all know it can be tough to wait that long to feel like you’re getting better. Quick progress can help keep your spirits up, and keep you motivated to rock on. So let’s look at some tips to help you improve your photography super fast!
1. Shoot At Golden Hour
Photography is about light, so choosing the best light of the day to shoot in will add a thick layer of magic to your images. Golden hour refers to the hour before sunset, and the hour after sunrise. Head outside today with your camera at either one of those times, and just shoot, shoot, shoot. You’ll be amazed at how the light brings your photos alive!
2. Use The Four Corner Composition Trick
You can easily see things in a new way, and explore new compositional ideas with The Four Corner Composition Trick. It’s easy peasy. With your camera up to your eye, put your subject in each of the four corners of the frame, one by one (you can also put the subject dead center if you’re feeling fancy). This will help you to break any habits that you may have, and instantly helps you find more creative ways to frame your shots.
3. Shoot A Roll of Film
One of the most valuable things about shooting film is that is has built-in limits. You get 24 (or 36) exposures, and that’s it. This forces you to slow down, and think carefully about each and every shot you take. So grab yourself a film camera, go for a stroll, and see what you create!
If you don’t have a film camera, then use a digital camera, but limit yourself to 24 shots. You can even cover up the LCD so you can’t peek at your results until you get home.
Want some tips on shooting film? Check out our Film Photography Crash Course!
4. Teach Someone Else Photography
It’s pretty incredible how the act of explaining a concept to someone else can instantly clarify it in your own mind. Plus, sharing your love of photography also gives you a massive dose of inspiration and energy! Find a friend or family member interested in photography, and sit down and give them a lesson! They’ll probably ask you some great questions that get your mind working too!
Check out our article, The Secret Way To Learn Photography Better, for more advice on teaching photography to others!
5. Read The Manual
There are two images that exist with each photo: the one you saw in your mind, and the one your camera created. Learning how your camera works, and how to control it, is what will let you bring those images in your mind to life! So sitting down, and reading your camera manual, front to back, is an essential part of learning how that fancy gadget works. You may even find yourself saying “Gee, I didn’t even know it could do that!”. So pour yourself a tasty beverage, and sit back and read that manual.
6. Watch A Documentary
Your photography is a visual representation of how you see the world, and changing what you think is a great way to change up what you shoot! One of the quickest ways to do that is to watch a documentary. Not only will you learn something interesting, but chances are you will see and think about things in a new way. Sometimes you also get the added bonus of amazing cinematography to get you visually inspired!
Check out The Ultimate Documentary List for Photographers for a great one to watch tonight!
7. Create Restrictions
Sometimes the problem is that you have too much to shoot, and that ends up diluting your work. It might seem counter-intuitive—that restricting yourself would make your more creative. But when you give yourself limitations with your shooting, you force yourself to think in a different way, and to really focus.
There are tons of great ways to use this concept, but here are a few ideas. Spend a day focused on just one of these ideas, and see just how much your photography improves:
- Shoot only with a camera phone
- Shoot only in black and white
- Shoot only self-portraits
- Shoot only strangers
- Shoot only friends
- Shoot only indoors
- Shoot only outdoors
8. Learn A New Technique
One of the fun things about being a photographer is adding new techniques to your tool belt. Sometimes just one simple little trick can change the way you shoot for the rest of your life! So dedicate the day to learning something new and practicing it.
9. Stand In Front Of Interesting Stuff
Here’s a fantastic quote from a National Geographic photographer:
If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff. — Jim Richardson
Simple right? Just get yourself out there, and find some interesting stuff! Now, the trick here is that what is “interesting” is completely up to you. And it definitely doesn’t need to be halfway around the world. There is tons of fascinating stuff in your hometown! The key is simply that you find it interesting, and that will lead you to take better photos of it!
A great way to find interesting stuff is to go for a photo walk, or go location scouting, depending on what kind of photography you usually do. A photo walk can be as simple as a short stroll through a new part of town (or an old part that you look at in a new way!) There are tons of tips on location scouting in this article, but basically look for a new spot to shoot, bring your camera along, and find yourself some interesting stuff to stand in front of.
10. Look At Your Old Photos
The final tip is to take some time to sit, and study your old images. This will help you out in a bunch of ways. It will get you inspired and excited about photography, and remind you just why you are a photographer. Getting in touch with your motivations is critical to improvement!
It will also let you determine what your strengths and weaknesses are as a shooter. Figuring out what you need to get better at helps focus your learning, and gives you a clear direction for your practice!
Check out our article, The Benefits of Photographic Time Travel for more details on how looking at your old work can help you become a better shooter!
So, there are 10 ways to quickly improve your photography skills. Which one will you try out today?