No matter what level of photographer you are, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned professional, if is always worth reflecting on your work and making sure you’re not falling into bad habits (or have already fallen!).
Here are 3 tips that will help keep your photography fresh.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
It was Henri Cartier-Bresson that said “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. What he meant by that was don’t expect to be a great photographer from the start. It takes practical experience and lots of it to truly understand photography and take consistently good pictures. We’ve all taken that lucky shot, the one that gets all the compliments, “likes” on social media and praise from fellow photographers, but the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer is being consistently good. Taking those shots time after time that gets the “likes” and compliments.
To reach that stage you simply need to get out there with your camera, take pictures, every day if you can but just take pictures. Even when you don’t have your camera with look out for photo opportunities, explore the light and consider how you would take a picture if you had a camera to hand. Only through ongoing practical experience will taking pictures become second nature to you. You’ll experience different lighting situations, yes you’ll make mistakes but that’s how you learn. Soon you’ll find you’re thinking less about the practicalities of image taking and your photography will become more intuitive.
2. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Photography covers a wide range of genres and subjects and we all have our favourites, be it wildlife, landscape, street or portrait, we tend to get drawn to the same style as its one we’re most comfortable in (and probably very good at).
However its good to step out of that comfort zone once in a while and try something we’re perhaps not that confident with. You may not stick to it but at least you’ve tried it and more often than not you’ll learn something than will likely improve your preferred style of photography.
Set yourself a project, something you wouldn’t naturally go. Learn the techniques required and get out there and give it a go. If portraits isn’t something you’d naturally do, ask friends or family if they would’t be being your model. The internet is full of aspiring models looking for photographers to help build their portfolio on a “Time for Print” (TFP) basis (they offer their time for free, you provide the images for free) - try it out for the experience, you may actually like it, be good at it and hey presto you’ve got another income stream!
3. Bedtime Reading
There’s a wealth of books, blogs, magazines and just general commentary out there on photography - soak it all up. Read and learn as much as you, even if you think there’s nothing more to know, there is always someone else’s perspective to consider, or new developments or trends emerging. You’ll find the more you read and the more informed you become and in turn the more confident you’ll be as a photographer.
It also helps to study the subject you’re photographing. Alfred Eisenstaedt said “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter”. Understanding your subject is just as important if not more so than understanding your camera. Wildlife photography is a classic example, understanding the behaviour patterns of animals, or where to find particularly exotic species of plant and the best time of year to see all makes for great pictures.