It’s been a little over a year since I received my first DSLR and I still cannot believe how much I’ve improved since I took that first picture. I am still nowhere near where I want to be but I am continuing to learn and hone my craft more and more each day.
Today I want to share what I’ve done on my own journey (and what I still need to do). How I started and how I’ve gotten to where I am. I still have a very long road ahead of me, but I am proud of where I am at. It has taken a lot of practice and a lot of research, and I’m excited to share all of that with you!
Read your manual and buy some books.
Your camera manual is your best friend. Read it, love it, and keep it close. Did you know that you can also download your manual onto your phone (depending on which one you have) so that you can easily pull it up if you’re out shooting and need to know something?
Books are another great reference point that I have a lot of (I’m a book hoarder, it’s a problem). I know that I’ve mentioned this multiple times on the blog but I love Understanding Exposure to help with photography fundamentals. It has been a book I’ve read multiple times and I always go back to if I have a question or concern. I’ve also read The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos which is great if you’re unsure how to properly compose a photo.
Join critique groups on Facebook.
I just did this and I found a few groups on Facebook that critique photos. One of them is Photoshop and Lightroom which has been so great when I’ve had a question about post-processing. Another is a Disney photo critique group that I love because I get so inspired by all the photos other photographers post on the page, and I get to learn how to take amazing shots with their tips!
One thing to be aware of though, if you don’t have thick skin these types of groups may not be for you. While you’re only supposed to post constructive criticism I’ve seen some pretty nasty comments on a few photos that are in no way helpful. If you can’t let this type of stuff roll off your back these groups may not be for you.
Learn how to properly post-process your photos.
In the last four months I’ve really sat down and tried to learn how to do this. Currently I’m reading The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers and I still haven’t unlocked all the potential of the program! I’ve also found tutorials and tips from other bloggers, like this article on how to efficiently edit photos in Lightroom from my contributor Madison! You can also find great tutorials for free on youtube for both Photoshop and Lighroom!
Ask to shadow more experienced photographers.
If you are truly serious about making photography into a career, find a local photographer whose style you love and ask to shadow them. If they’re willing, jump on the opportunity! Just, make sure that you don’t interfere with the actual session!
Practice, practice, practice!
The only way you will ever get better is if you pick up your camera and try to shoot a little bit each day. They don’t have to be award winning pictures, but as long as you pick it up and take at least one shot you’ll be practicing and getting better! If you’re not comfortable shooting in low-light situations, try that for a few days. If action shots are your nemesis, try following your child or pet around and practice that way. You’ll only get better the more you try!
When I look back on where I was compared to where I am now, I’m always amazed. I thought I didn’t have to read my manual to figure out how to take a good picture. A few weeks after I got my camera we went to Disneyland. And I came back with completely whitewashed photos because I was smug and thought I knew everything.
That woke me up. I then decided I needed to learn, so I cracked open my manual and a few books. Two months after our trip to Disneyland I was able to take this shot of the Atlas V Rocket Launch at the Kennedy Space Center.
And now, my shots are continually getting better. Upgrading equipment has helped some, but I am slowly learning that the best equipment is what you have with you. So, I am learning to make the most of what I have right now. There is definitely a learning curve but once you get the hang of things you’ll never want to put your camera down!
What is something you’ve done to improve your own photography skills?