Photography...

Improve Your Photography

Section Jump

Once you understand the basics of photography (you can see plenty of tutorials on the basics of photography on this site) then you will want to learn more about improving your photography. The following are a few tips that I think will help you move your photos on to the next level (I know they helped me).

Getting out and taking photos is the surest way to improve your photography, one of my favourite quotes is from Henri Cartier-Bresson ? ? Your first 10000 photographs are your worst? his sentiments are very right, revisit your old work and you will likely as not see how much you have already moved on. But it is not taking pictures alone that will help, read on for a few tips on things you can do.

Projects

One way to get yourself out there taking photos is to set yourself projects, these can range from things like a 365 project (taking a photo a day for a year) to trying to achieve the perfect self portrait. The project in this case is secondary to the action. When you have a project or goal in mind then you will firstly be out taking photos and secondly you will learn to plan your shots rather than just shooting wildly away (although there is plenty to be said about off the cuff photography).

Finding an original idea isn?t always the key element with photographic projects, it is the challenge to you that is important not what others thing (at least not early in your photographic journey). To give you a few ideas we have compiled a list of the top 5 photography projects, take a look and see what you think (you will also see a couple of links to projects I have started or am about to start, just to show you, you are not alone in this journey or you can visit Fatphotographer's Photo Projects for more details of all my photo projects).

Tuition and courses

If you feel it is something that you would benefit from then it may well be an idea to look into photography courses of some kind (be they full time, part time, short or even online there are so many to choose from). There are courses to suit everyone and in pretty much any genre you can imagine, not everyone learns this way (or improves this way) so be sure it is for you.

One word of warning with regards to courses/certification of any kind in photography it alone will not make you a photographer you do not need qualifications to become a pro photographer what you need is skill.

Read

Following on from courses much of what you want or need to learn about photography can be read about online or in photography books (there are plenty of websites and books out there, this site is testament to that), reading about different aspects of photography will help you to understand how things work, and hopefully become technically proficient.

Study other photographs

Again as a follow on to the above studying other people photographs that you like is a great way to learn about photography and by applying similar to your own work will often improve your photography.

I don?t mean plagiarise the work, what I mean is look at what elements work well together, what colours fit with each other, how is the composition positioned, are there distracting elements your should avoid, are there lead in lines etc. Once you can evaluate others work you will find you can become a better judge of your own.

Self Critique

One of the hardest elements initially in photography is to learn to look at your own work critically, try to ignore the subject and look at the elements instead; by this I mean you may have to take the emotion out of your photograph, it is hard to ?ditch? a photo of your own children but if the photo is not up to standard be honest with yourself about it (you don?t actually have to get rid of the picture but see why it may not be as good as you first thought).

After a while of self critiquing you may end up going the other way and finding yourself questioning every photo you take (this is a trap I have fallen into sometimes), again look at it objectively, if this was someone else?s image would you like it, really study and think about it.

Self criticism is in my opinion one of the best things to learn the art of, as this will allow you to see your failings and your successes.

Photography Groups

Joining a local camera club or photographic society is a great way to help improve your photography not only will you find likeminded people but there will usually be lectures and competitions to teach you plenty (there is nothing quite as likely to bring the best out in your photography than honest critiques from your peers). You can find plenty of photography clubs listed on each geographic page there are plenty out there.

If you are not quite so confident to throw yourself into a group of strangers equally as useful are online communities (you can find plenty on our photographic forums page, you will still usually be able to have your work critiqued by peers (but with a little anonymity), and learn from (some what) friendly people. The other advantage is that you are more likely to find a genre specific forum or group.

Look back

If you take all or some of these elements you will fast find your photographic work improves and grows over time and one of the best ways to see this is to look back over your old photos and see what you would keep now, what would you alter in them, what would you do differently, once you can spot these things you will start to really appreciate how much you have improved, and that is all that matters really.

Be sure to let me know if you have found this article helpful, or if you think there are things we should add, I?m always happy to add elements to these guides, growing the usefulness of each topic is what drives Fatphotographer forward.

Ashley Beolens