I’ve been creating photos for seven years. That’s seven years of bad photos, frustration, and trying to figure it all out. While it hasn’t been an easy road, it has definitely been incredibly fulfilling. Photography has taught me to define myself in a visual way, which isn’t always easy. I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without photography, so inn honor of my seven year mark I’m sharing seven tips to help you learn to photograph like you’ve always wanted.
1. Let your photos marinate
I always refuse to show someone the photo I just took. Why? Partly because I’m always worried it wont be good enough, but also because I believe in letting my photos sit before looking through them. It falls in line with stepping away from something and looking at it with fresh eyes. When you go to cull or edit your photos you need to dedicate that time to actually focusing on just your photos. Doing so allows you to find patterns in your work or develop a style because you’re taking the time to figure it out. I spend a lot of my time multi-tasking so editing photos has been my way of forcing myself to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
2. In the beginning, quantity over quality
You’re going to take a lot of crappy photos. Like, a lot. Like, more than you can count. But for every hundred crappy photos there will be at least ten good ones. And in the beginning, quality doesn’t really matter because you’re learning how it all works and the only way you can do that is by actually taking photos. So take those cliche flower photos and those really embarrassing photos of your friends because it’s all about learning from your mistakes!
3. Figure out an organization system
Not only will this come in handy in the long run but it’s also a great way to show yourself that you are serious in growing and learning. An organization system keeps you honest about what you’ve accomplished and prove that you are actually accomplishing something.
The only way you’ll know what’s considered good photography, is if you look at good photography. Joining Flickr in 2008 was one of the best decisions I made for my photography. Sits like Flickr allow you to curate a community of photographers that inspire you to do your best. It’s also a great way to start a 365 ‘a photo a day’ project which, don’t be fooled, is a lot harder than it sounds.
5. Learn to not take photos
Hear me out on this one. In my experience, making camp behind your camera leads to two things: no photos of you and missing out. If everyone knows you as ‘the person with the camera’ then you’re often limited to that. You become the designated photographer at everything. And while that’s great for your portfolio – see tip 2 – it could end up separating you from the rest of the group.
But there’s another reason: learning to not take photos will teach you to look. It will also teach you to bring your camera to everything. On mytrip to Ireland last spring I forgot to bring my camera when visiting the beautiful seaside town of Bray. I’m still super upset over this.
6. Learn manual
Yes, auto is wonderful because it allows you to snap-snap-snap away but it doesn’t really teach you anything. Learning manual teaches you how to work your camera and teaches you how to actually take a well exposed photo. I never used a manual – the book that comes with the camera – to learn how to work my camera. I’m a visual learner, so the hands on aspect of just picking up my camera was the best way for me.
They say that you don’t need a high tech camera to take great photos, but those extra megapixels do certainly help. If you’re serious about photography upgrade from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex).
You may also want to invest in Photoshop or Lightroom as well as actions for your photos. Actions will help give your photos a clean, consistent look. I’d recommend VSCO but if that’s out of your price range, a quick search on Pinterest will help you find tons of free actions.
What do you like photographing?