Hello everyone, today I’ll try to summarise what are the best ways to improve your photography skills. I also wrote a blog article a few days ago about how I got better at photography. Maybe you are interested in my personal experiences too then read on here: How i bacame a better photographer
Learning by doing
The first tip I can give is probably the one that is given the most. You have to practice! Go out and take pictures of everything that interests you. Photography is not something you just learn on the side, it takes a lot of practice. To become a good photographer you have to take pictures and failure is ok, don’t let it discourage you!
Take criticism and failure is ok
As I said, failure is ok! It’s ok as long as you recognise your mistakes. To recognise mistakes you have to be very self-critical and / or face criticism from others. Present your photos in photo communities such as 500px. Alternatively, you can share your photos with your friends in real life, Facebook, twitter, instagram, reddit and so on. Always ask for criticism, what do people like about your pictures and what don’t they like? You can also ask yourself this question.
If you don’t recognise your mistakes in photography you can’t become a better photographer, so be grateful for anyone who criticises you constructively!
Are you photographing at the wrong time of day?
One of the most common beginner’s mistakes in photography is to shoot at the wrong time of day. For example, you should not take landscape or architectural photos of buildings in the bright midday sun. There are exceptions where it might make sense, but as a rule you should take these pictures at the golden or blue hour, i.e. in the early morning or in the evening at sunset.
Work with light
I keep saying it, light is one of the most important factors in photography if not the most important. Light casts shadows, light sets the mood of your image so experiment with the light, pay close attention to how something looks in the light. If you are working with natural light you need to consider the time of day, a landscape or a person’s face will look very different depending on what time you are shooting. A landscape that you see at a certain time of day and looks boring can look completely different in a few hours when the sun has moved a little. When you photograph people you have to pay attention to how they look depending on how you position them towards the sun. If you are photographing a model in natural light, the time of day can also be an important factor.
However, you can also work with flashes and softboxes in photography. This is possible both outdoors and in the studio. Light is the friend of every photographer, so work with it!
Use the rule of thirds
With the rule of thirds, the image is mentally cut into nine parts. You draw two horizontal and two vertical lines so that all nine parts are the same size. The subject to be photographed is placed at one of the four intersection points, but you can also place it along a line. In many cameras the grid can be switched on, so that it is displayed directly in the camera viewfinder as a help above what you see.
There are many helpful videos on the internet with photography tips for beginners. Especially on youtube there are countless videos with good tips from photographers, including camera-specific ones. I myself have learned most from professional photographers on youtube and can therefore only recommend that you watch the videos!
Here is a list of some free tutorials for beginners.
- PHOTOGRAPHY BASICS in 10 MINUTES
- Photography Tutorial: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed
- CAMERA BASICS!
- Photography Composition – Beginner Photography Tutorial
Read books of old masters of photography
If you don’t like videos from youtube etc., you might like books better. Books by great photo artists are often available for little money and are easy to get used. Look at their photographic work, read what they have to say and absorb the information so that you can benefit from it yourself. You will see that there have always been photographers who have stood out and even in the days of analog photography there were truly photographic artists who will blow you away with what they have created.
Photography is an art, so anything that pleases is allowed. There is a creative streak in every human being – try to awaken it. As a tip, think of feelings like love, joy, pain, anger or hate and think about how you can visualise these feelings in the form of a photo. How would you proceed?
Specialise in one thing
Especially in the beginning, when you want to learn photography, it might be helpful to specialize in one subject area. For example, first photograph only landscapes, only people or only macros, that which captivates you the most and this until you have perfected it. You should do this so that you don’t get lost in too many areas of photography to make satisfactory progress for yourself.
Don’t buy too much photo equipment at once
An old advice but a good one, don’t buy too much equipment for photography at once. Use one camera with one lens for one area of photography. You should then use the photographic equipment until you have perfected the use of it.
Do not shoot in Auto mode
If you really want to get better at photography, you should set everything yourself. Get to grips with ISO, aperture and exposure times on your camera. Do this until you master the use of light, depth of field and movement. This will teach you more control over your camera and make you a better photographer.
Use fixed focal length lenses and no zoom lenses
You should use fixed focal lengths instead of zoom lenses to improve your awareness of image composition and perspective. Do this until you intuitively know which focal length is best for a scene.
Photograph as if there were no image editing software
Image editing is a huge field of its own in photography. Trying to save a bad photo by, for example, cropping it completely is time consuming and frustrating. So again, take your picture from the beginning as well as you can. Therefore, pay attention to the composition of your image, exposure, sharpness and so on from the very beginning.
Get inspired by other photographers
There are so many very good photographers sharing their images on the internet. Take a look at these photos and let them inspire you. This does not mean that you should copy photos! Create something of your own from the inspiration of these photos.
I don’t take good photos, do I need a better camera?
It is true that some photos can only be taken with a good camera, but the camera is often not the reason for bad photos. There are photographers who shoot exclusively with their smartphones and create incredibly good works of photographic art. So you see it depends on more than just the camera you use. Photography requires practice, creativity and a little talent. This means that if you take bad pictures, ask yourself if it’s really the camera or if you lack practice?
Should I buy the latest camera?
It depends, are you a professional photographer and do you earn your living with photography? Even then, maybe yes. For people who are just starting out in photography, I recommend buying a second-hand camera, bearing in mind that it has been used to take amazing photos. The Canon 5D Mark II, for example, is very affordable and photographers have taken some incredible photos with it. The camera itself is not the most important thing. The lenses are more important than the camera. Ask yourself whether you are already using your camera to the full, because if not, you don’t need to change to another model.