How Can I Become a Better Photographer?

Got the photography blues? Feel like your photos all belong in the cutting bin?  Don’t give up, give it your all! Your worries are actually proof you’re on the right track. We’re confident that many of you will find that the following article speaks to you. We’ll advise on what to avoid, what to aim for, and by what road to get there.

Antonín Kratochvíl, winner of the World Press photo contest.

This article’s title may seem a bit cliched, but read on and you’ll agree we’ll meet our promise. You’ll find out how to improve and what steps will make you truly become a better photographer.

It’s Not About You!

When you’re learning and improving yourself in the world of photography, there’s no room for your ego. Listen well to advice from better and more experienced photographers, even though their words can sometimes be painful to hear. Keep in mind that pure praise very rarely brings progress. What really moves you forward is criticism… of course with the condition that you have to perceive the useful parts of it. And that the person giving it knows what they’re talking about. As rough as this may sound, any criticism from someone who doesn’t understand the topic at hand won’t help you at all. Even if that someone is your mother, your grandmother, or a friend who thinks they’re a big photographer becase they have a big-budget camera.

Idols

As we wrote in our article on inspiration, it’s good to have idols. Watch what they do, how they take pictures, and what techniques they use. Most likely, you like their photos, and you would like for yours to look the same. There’s nothing simpler than to watch them and get inspired. In the world of photographers, it’s no problem to meet up with even the greatest of stars, either by visiting various workshops, or by going to exhibitions.

 

Antonín Kratochvíl, winner of the World Press photo contest.

Antonín Kratochvíl, winner of the World Press photo contest.

One Photo a Year

When you ask a great photographer how many photographs they took in the last year, they’ll respond that none, one, many two… that’s because they’re counting only their best photos. If they have one photo that they’re still proud of after some time, you can be sure that that photo is exceptional. This brings us to self-criticism. When you talk to a photographer in a friendly and “unofficial” mood, you’ll find that they actually don’t like their own photos, although they rarely admit it. When you start feeling something similar yourself, it’s actually a sign you’re getting better. Try taking a look at your photos from a few months back. If you find yourself finding them bad, then be sure that was meant to be.

That’s It, I’m Selling My Camera

Everyone gets That Mood sometimes. They hate their own work, nothing’s going right, they’re hard on themselves, and they just want to give up and sell their camera. It’s natural, and after talking to a variety of photographers, you’ll find that a good half of them feel the same way. That’s usually when, shortly later, you take a picture that convinces you of the opposite. These states, too, mainly come because you’re getting better. Your photos are not noticeably worse than what you took in the past (though of course every now and then you may still take a truly bad photo). The difference is that in the past, you were not as hard on yourself, and you were more satisfied with your pictures. So when you get stuck in a rut in photography, remember these words here, and remember you’re not alone.

Your Roads to Growth in Photography

The simplest one is to take pictures, take some more pictures, and then take even more pictures. If you don’t have natural talent, then a) you’re in great company, and b) you can replace it with hard work. If you put massive time and effort into photography, you really cannot fail. You’ll find many people with something to offer you—with experience to give you. Seek out workshops led by your photographic idols. And the best thing you can do is—go work as an assistant for more experienced photographers.

Look at photos. And take that job seriously. Every day, examine at least 200 photos and think about them. Try to take at least one photo at day, even on a phone if you have to. Over time, exchange your books on photography for books on photographers. Knowing techniques and technologies won’t make you a photographer; it will only give you better photos. Photography has to be seen. Once you start constantly looking at the world as if through a viewfinder, you’ll find that you are a truly dedicated photographer.

Last updated 12. January 2015

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Author: Majo Elias

I’ve been taking pictures since 2004. When I was starting out, I photographed almost everything. Later my style solidified and I began photographing people almost exclusively. At the moment my main genres are fashion and advertising.

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