If you’ve grown bored with taking the same photographs in the same way, or just don’t like the photos you’re taking, and want to become a better photographer, it’s not hard to do. With these seven simple steps and a little bit of practice (OK, a lot of practice) you’ll quickly notice that your photos are getting better and better.
Because the advent of digital photography has made it easy and economical to take a lot of photographs, and gives you near-instantaneous views of those photos, implementing these seven steps will have you taking better photos before you know it (no matter what taking “better photos” means to you).
Take a picture a day (you don’t even have to leave your house)
Take at least one picture a day, preferably many more than that. And I don’t mean a picture of your pet, or the flowers in your garden every day, although those are certainly interesting subjects. But once you’ve done those, branch out. Look for less obvious, but still interesting, subjects for your pictures.
After a while, you’ll have run out of even those ideas, and that’s when the fun-and the magic-really begins. As desperation sets in, and you walk around with your camera trying to find something worthy of pointing the lens at, crazy ideas will hit you: “hmmm, the pattern on the rug is interesting, I wonder what it would look like close up,” or “the way the light from the window is hitting the picture on the wall is kind of interesting.”
Don’t just think about it, take those pictures! You might just be amazed at what you manage to capture. And remember, it’s digital, so you can take 100 pictures and throw 100 away if they all stink, then take 100 more!
Give yourself a photo challenge. Write words, ideas, numbers, shapes (or have someone else do it so it will be a total surprise to you) on pieces of paper, and then pull one out and take that picture(s). This is different from the idea above in that in this case, you’ve got a specific photographic subject in mind.
For instance if the word was “hope,” what signifies hope to you? A litter of kittens or puppies? A sunrise? A child’s first day of school?
Look at pictures
Look at pictures other people have taken. Not just at photographs, but paintings, drawings, and any visual medium. See what you like and don’t like. See what speaks to you. Notice how colors set a mood, how do they go together.
As you look at images other people have created, and find some that interest you, imitate them. Try to take the same picture (or angle, or effect, etc.). This will help you learn to do things in a different way-which may or may not work for you, but which will help refine your style.
One of the things I love about the photos I’ve been taking is that sometimes I’m focusing on one thing, thinking that would make a great picture, but when I look at it, I see something else that grabs my attention. It might be a reflection or shape I hadn’t even noticed as I was taking the picture. Often times that ends up being way more interesting that was I was originally shooting.
If you have a camera that lets you manually adjust the shutter and aperture, do it! Since you aren’t wasting film, you can go crazy. Turn buttons and dials, do things you don’t know how to do. Sometimes the best photographs are those taken by accident.
Use photo editing software
This doesn’t mean you have to totally change every photo you take, but a little bit of editing, be it something as simple as increasing the saturation or contrast of a picture, or turning a color photo into a black and white, can turn an “ordinary” picture into a great one.
Talk to other photographers
Join a club or group. Talking with other people can provide motivation, inspiration, and even instruction. Plus, it’s fun to be able to share your photos-and get feedback.
The goal of these steps is not to have every picture you take be frame-worthy (but wouldn’t that be nice?), but to help you see the world in a new way, to capture it in images that reflect your vision when you pushed the button, and mostly, to allow you to enjoy the photography.
Being a better photographer is a personal thing, and everyone’s process will be different, just as what each person sees through the camera lens is different. But we can all keep learning, and getting better.