Once you acknowledge, “Yeah, my photos do suck,” and you have not put down the camera, there are some things you can do to get better. They are not difficult but will require discipline and dedication. Improvement, in anything, comes with time and effort. We have talked about why your photos suck. It’s not about gear, it’s not about filling your SD card or photoshopping your images to death, it’s about you.
Here are some tips to get better.
To get better at photography it’s good to look back. Shooting with film and film cameras is an excellent way to hone you skill. Shooting with an old film camera imposes a lot of limits. There is no viewing each image after you take the shot. Each shot costs money, so wasting shots can be costly after a while. Most film camera don’t have any of the bells and whistles that the cheapest digital camera has, so you really have to think before you shoot. Work out your composition, rinse, and repeat.
Use a small memory card
If you find film too costly, consider a small memory card, like a 1 GB or 2 GB card. In your free time, don’t carry a lot of memory cards, only one or two of these small cards. If you are shooting raw, or raw+jpeg, you will find yourself limited, due to the larger size of the raw files. Every shot has to count, or you run out of space or have to waste time deleting photos, possibly missing a shot. I’ve personally done this a lot and it does work . Having your space limited in by shooting film or working with a small memory card causes you to want to get your photo right in camera. (Which, by the way, will also help to keep post-processing efforts low.)
Make sure you know the basics
To get things right in camera, you have to master the basics. Once you become a more seasoned photographer, you have to keep refreshing yourself as well. Understanding exposure, metering, and composition will get your far. It will also help you get your shots more efficiently. The more efficiently you get your shots, the fewer you have to take. If your images suck, there is a good chance you are overlooking the basics.
Have a camera you don’t mind keeping with you every day
Put down the camera phone. There, that’s better. While camera phones are getting better , they are not cameras. You compose differently with them. Find a camera you are comfortable shooting with every day and carry it with you, always. Make the camera part of your life. This will help you develop your eye and stop you from kicking yourself when you miss a shot. Some of my best shots have come from just having my camera with me, when something just happens. When you have the right subject, light, and circumstances, having your camera with you will make you smile.
Work with others
When you work with other photographers, you will learn something. If four photographers are using the same camera, the same lens, same everything, you will still get four different images. We all see things differently and have different levels of knowledge and experience. If they are your friends, they can point out your faults in a non-competitive way. You also have people to bounce ideas off of. This will help you not to suck at photography.
Share your work
Whether it be online through sites like Flickr, or printed out and put on a wall, show your work. Getting feedback from strangers, good or bad, is a great way to know if you are getting better. If you get nothing at all, there’s a good chance your photos still suck. That’s fine though, it gives you something to strive for.
Don’t stop creating images. Don’t stop learning. Photography can be considered a martial art. To get better, you need constant practice. You have to practice every photography technique you learn till it’s second nature. It will help you to know how to handle any photographic situation, and help you not to suck at photography.
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