Photography as one of the most beautiful art forms is deeper than simply capturing moments and events through pictures. From the dawn of time there has been an existential need to document history and events through one form or another. This need has led us to different modern inventions —— including the various types of cameras to aid in improving the skills of a photographer throughout the years.
Ready or Not, Say Cheese!
Everyone loves the initial feeling of looking at a picture of themselves for the very first time. Everything from the occasion (party, graduation, date, casual day out), the people in the shot (friends, family, significant other), to the outfit being worn makes for a truly special moment.
One of the Coolest Jobs On Earth
Being a photographer is one of the coolest job(s) to have! Not only do photographers get to go to different exciting places, they also get to meet as many people from different walks of life.
The skills of a photographer goes beyond just taking mere pictures. Communication skills, integrity, promptness, an attention to detail are some of the requirements of the craft as well.
Newbies to Pros:
Skills of a photographer is must for success.
Everyone Can Improve Their Photography Skills
While it true that shooters are always looking to hone their skill set, not everyone aspires to be a professional photographer! There are people who simply want to learn to shoot better under certain lighting and weather conditions.
Whatever the case may be, no matter the reason for deciding upon shooting in the first place the fact still remains, there are several tips and tricks available to gradually improve the skills of a photographer and make steady progress towards ones artistic journey.
1) HAVE 3 STARTER CAMERAS
My first advice keeping three cameras to start with!
- Your entry level camera
Your first camera doesn’t have to be a professional camera, your first camera should be your intro to photography, and can be something as simple as a Polaroid! The goal is to get as much hands-on experience as possible and learn the basics of photography. With a simple first camera ($50 – $100 price range) you have given yourself the freedom to begin! There is no pressure on how fast you should improve and are free to just shoot and just have fun!
- Your 2nd Camera—- More Pixels, Oh Yeah!
Your second camera should have a few added pixels and a better overall high quality feel than the first. With your first camera you’ve gained experience and are now working towards improving the little details from the gradients, saturation, resolution, and are well on the way to becoming a respectable photographer.
You should use this camera for developing your inner eyes at seeing moments that deserve to be captured
A good price range for a second camera would be
($250 – $400)
- Camera 3 : Putting the whole puzzle together
The third camera in your toolbox should be a professional one or teetering around that threshold.
If you were consistent with your earlier devices, then you gradually moved up from level 1 to level 2 —— and the improvements in your photography skills become evident.
With a professional camera (price range $400 – $1000+) in your arsenal, your shots take on a whole new feel because like ABC you start putting the pieces together.
2) Go Outside & Shoot Nature
Nature is simply waiting to be captured! There is a certain level of heightened awareness when out in nature and your camera can serve as the medium to express that. Soak it all in! Everything from the patterns of a tree, ants scrambling to find food, to the squirrel climbing up a random pole makes way for a man meets nature, down to earth feel.
3) Shoot in Natural and Artificial Light
There is a difference between learning to capture outdoor images in natural sunlight and indoor photo shoots.
With natural sunlight there is a clear gradient to work with or against,
Where as indoor photo shoots require constant adjusting of ones camera as well the lights themselves to give the illusion of natural tones.
4) Still Life vs High Speed : DO BOTH!
Unless equipped with a quick capture, high speed DSLR camera then chances are that you aren’t adept at shooting people/objects in fast motion.
Constant movement can either make or break a shot. The only time a blurry shot is perfect is when attempting to indicate someone / something in high speed (cars, sports, dancing etc.)
Capturing still life gives you ample time to stop and adjust your lenses to your liking! By initially starting slowly, the more you capture still life images, the faster adept you become at calibrating quicker shots.
5) An Instruction Manual Teaches You The Skills Of A Photographer.
I’m certain that over 90% of people who buy a new camera will not read the manual because most people believe that it takes away from the artist experience of discovering and finding out for themselves. Most new camera buyers will never even as much as touch a manual talk less of read one.
While I understand the need to go with the flow and learn as you go, reading further into the instruction manual will instantly teach you things that you would have to spend 6+ months learning on your own.
6) Are You In It For The Long Run?
It is easy to claim to be a photography for the many perks that come with it. Social media is flooded with various producer hashtags and watermarks, all as a blatant attempt to garner likes, followers and viral exposure.
Sadly, it’s become painstakingly hard to tell who is actually in it for the long run.
It should be about the passion and the love for growth first and foremost.
To the newcomers I advise gaining momentum first, knocking down a couple hundred hours behind the lens, before self-advertising online.
7) Learning: Attend Seminars and Workshops
Seminars and workshops are actually your secret weapon! Do you know how many people you can meet and connect with when you go to a creative workshop?
It’s not just photographers but models, performers, and different people in many creative field who are always present at these events.
Seminars are littered with so much valuable resources! Everything from conversations on the best deals on the latest film gear, to advice on how to avoid beginner shooting mistakes are invaluable.
8) Get Comfortable With Uncertainty
There will be days where a client randomly cancels on a shoot, as well as unexpected
Weather changes going from bright sunshine to heavy rain in an instant. While the first thought will be to feel down on your luck or disappointed, I strongly advice on keeping a professional attitude at all times. You have chosen photography ——– an uncertain but ultimately rewarding career.
9) Networking, Travel and a Foreign Language.
The thing about networking both online and through seminars is that there are certain guests who fly in from all over the world; New York, Sydney, Dublin, Paris, you name it!
Some of the guest(s) in the crowd are marketers, promoters and advertising agents whom are actively looking for recruit set of eyes and specific skills of a photographers to add their company for both short term and long term projects.
With that being said, once you get a foot in the door, traveling to different cities around the globe will become the norm and an additional networking tool I would suggest would be to learn a foreign language.
10) Take Video And Scroll Slowly To Find Micro Moment
An underrated way of improving your photography is to take series of test videos first.
While I agree that test shots are indeed a great way to gauge for the general setting and mood, I feel that quick videos are even better!
With videos you have access to over 100+ micro images and can take snapshots of the different parts of the video that you like to recreate. A video is literally a moving image! With all the subtle changes in the background like light gradients, subtle facial expression changes,
11) There Is No Competition To Improvising Your Photography Skills
Remember there are no rules to photography. It’s all fun and self-expression. There is no competition in art. You should never aim to be better than your friends, family, or even the photographers you see on Instagram, Pinterest and the various Social Media sites.
12) Your Friends And Family Can Be Models
You can gather around your friends for a fun day at a picnic or graffiti tagged location and shoot as much you want making models!
Not only are does capturing the people you love tremendously help improve the skills of a photographer, it also helps their people exposure as models, and muses as well ——– Everyone wins!
13) You Too Should Get Behind The Camera
Another great way for photographers to improve their photography is to get behind the camera and let themselves be captured by other people that way they are exposed to other peoples processes and techniques as well as see how they themselves respond to their own camera.
14) Have Different Versions Of The Same Image(s)
Variety is key in photography. When looking through your portfolio a potential client isn’t interested in just one mode of shooting, but rather a series of options to choose from.
Everything from a higher resolution shot, to black and white shots must be readily available for preview.
15) Don’t Be Afraid To Draw Inspiration From Others
Don’t be afraid to re-create magazine shoots, a Pinterest post, or even the work of a fellow artist.
There is a great deal of anxiety among people in artistic pursuits around being called out for “stealing “or “copying” someone else’s work.
As Pablo Picasso once said good artists copy, great artists steal. ‘What I believe he meant by this is that there is no such thing as theft when it comes to art and inspiration. Everything is simply an updated version of something else, all art has another source from which it stems from. So next time you see something that strikes a chord within you, feel free to shamelessly use it as a muse.
16) Learn How To Edit —– Even If Just a Little
Most of the photos you see on the web that left a positive impression on you were likely edited by someone with little to no photography skills.
As a photogrpher, you must have to basic knowledge of photo editing.
There are so many apps and software available from basic entry ones like Befunky, to the popular ones in Adobe Photoshop.
There is no shame in throwing added lighting here and there or even darkening the gradients of someone’s skin as an attempt to create harmony or elaborate contrast.
Editing is all part of the learning curve, so the more you edit the more you find “your signature style” and soon those adjustments can make for a natural shooting without edits needed.
17) Ask yourself These Self Reflecting Questions
- How can my many interests and photography harmonize?
- What message am I trying to convey through my captures?
- Am I doing photography for fun, to impress someone or do I really like it?
- What places around me make for a good capture?
- What are the habits, and skills of a photographer I admire?
- When will I know when I’ve outgrown my current camera?
- When is the best time to update my camera?
- Can I see myself having a real career in photography?
- Who are the upcoming photographers around me and would they be interested in collaborating?
- What are signs that I’m truly improving?
- What is my ideal shooting weather?
- Do I need a routine so I get in the flow quicker?
- Who am I comparing my skillset(s) to and why?
- What is my niche? How can I have my own signature shots?
- How was my photography last year compared to this year, what has changed?
- Whose feedback can I accurately rely upon to guide me?
18) Feedback From Trusted Companions Is Everything
Well it’s true that no one knows your craft better than you do, seeking feedback from friends and companions is also another way to improve the skills of a photographer!
While your inner mind might be immensely focused on capturing a shot, it is cool to have outside eyes guiding and providing a wider perspectives.
19) Be Patient Your Overall Vision
Finally, it is true that visualizing something before you do it helps bring it to life. It is also true that great things take time!
There shouldn’t be a forceful desperation to be better than someone else. All your work should be a perfect balance of gleeful self-expression and seeking to improve from your own deepest inspirations. You are doing something you absolutely love, so be completely present in the moment from the licensed wedding photo shoots to the simple capturing of a delicious cup of coffee.