Photography requires time and patience, but sometimes that doesn't feel like enough.
If you feel that you're not improving quickly enough, you might need to try a new challenge or technique. These new experiences can motivate you and help you develop your style.
1. Take Photos of Something You've Never Photographed Before
Getting out of your comfort zone is often uncomfortable. This is why you should do it more often. What might seem like a daunting task can end up becoming one of the best decisions you've ever made.
2. Get to Know What It Feels Like to Be in Front of the Camera
One of the best ways to take great pictures is to understand what it's like to be in front of the camera.
If you're a portrait photographer, this will help you empathise with your models. You're likely to feel awkward and shy when you first take self-portraits, and that's completely fine.
3. Go on a Photo Walk
If you have some extra time on your hands, go out with your camera. Go to your local park or a street that you find beautiful.
This exercise will force you to find beauty in everyday objects.
Look for details that you usually ignore. Shoot from different angles. You can even shoot in black & white mode if you want to look at your world from a completely different perspective.
4. Improve Your Editing by Reading Articles or Watching Tutorials
Editing is a very important part of photography. Knowing how to colour correct your pictures can help you improve your work significantly.
A few editing articles (of which there are many on Light Stalking) or tutorials can inspire you a lot. You can start with basic editing techniques and move on to more complicated tutorials.
If you're an advanced editor, why not try a new editing program or technique? Even a simple tip might inspire you to go out and take unique photos.
5. Take Photos With a Friend
Go out with a friend or family member for a photoshoot. This can provide you with new photo opportunities or help you look at your work from another perspective.
6. Shoot With a Disposable Camera
Analogue photography requires patience and concentration. It forces photographers to be present.
Since you won't see your results immediately, you'll have to rely on your skills to take great photos. Given the limitation of film, you might also get closer to understanding what you value the most as a photographer.
7. Shoot in Manual Mode and Focus Manually
Manual mode gives you full control over your camera settings. Manual focus allows you to highlight specific details in your composition.
Experimenting with these settings will teach you a lot about your camera and preferences. Don't be afraid of breaking the rules. Follow your instinct as you shoot. This is very likely to help you develop your style in a short period of time.
8. Limit Yourself With a Specific Rule
If you like photography challenges, you might find inspiration in this tip!
Your limit could be:
- shooting in black & white mode for a day
- taking only 30 photos in one day
- photographing as many objects as you can within one hour
- re-creating your favourite photo
The point is to do something you're completely not used to. This might awaken your creativity and help you take your best photos yet.
9. Analyse Your Favourite Photographers' Work
Check out your favourite artists' galleries. Why do you like their work? What makes their pictures so eye-catching to you?
In doing this, you might discover new techniques or come up with refreshing ideas for your own work.
10. Ask Other Photographers for Feedback
In my opinion, this is one of the most effective ways to improve your photography.
This isn't to say that you should listen to everyone's opinions. Some of the creative choices you make are based on your unique preferences. However, you might learn a lot from advanced photographers who know how to give constructive criticism.
Join a Facebook group for photographers. Post a photo and ask for honest feedback. The results might show you something you weren't aware of before.
11. Join a One-Day Workshop in Your Area
Another effective way to improve is to join one-day workshops. More and more photographers are hosting workshops all across the globe. Their aim is to help photographers improve and to learn from their techniques.
One-day workshops tend to be affordable but full of important lessons. You can use this as an opportunity to meet new people in your area and get to work with your favourite artists.
12. Shoot in Low Light Conditions
Nighttime photography is very popular, but it's something a lot of photographers stay away from. The idea of using a high ISO might seem intimidating, and for good reason.
However, many of today's cameras can handle a lot of ISO without causing damage. Knowing how to take photos in low light conditions can:
- give you more photography opportunities throughout the day
- help you take moody photos
- allow you to experiment with artificial light
- help you take great photos even when the weather conditions aren't favourable
13. Take Photos of Strangers
This is a popular photography project that involves taking casual photos of strangers. You have to ask for permission and take photos in a place where you can't control the light.
14. Take Photos Without Thinking and Use Your Results in a Diptych
Instead of putting a lot of thought into your pictures, shoot without thinking. Then, use your results to create a diptych or triptych. These are photo collages made up of two or three photos. Together, these images can tell a story.
This technique is a good way to loosen up and enjoy the process of taking spontaneous photos.
15. Shoot Through Objects to Frame Your Subject
Shooting through simple objects can help you frame your subject, highlight specific details, and get rid of distractions.
How does this work? Start with a large aperture like f/2.0. Stand behind something with gaps, like branches or a fence. Focus manually on your subject.
The object you're shooting through will start to look blurry. The more you focus away from the object, the blurrier it will look. This is called a foreground.
A new challenge or technique should be achievable and affordable so that you don't get discouraged or impatient. Having a 24-hour goal can teach you a lot about your preferences as a photographer.
The most important part is to enjoy the process. Loosen up, challenge yourself, and see what happens!