If you’re a photographer, doesn’t matter if you’re pro or amateur, we’re always trying to find ways to become a better photographer. There are so many websites and YouTube tutorials out there, but are they really the right tips you need to become better? Below are 5 tips to help you become a better photographer and if you have more, please leave them in the comments section.
Don’t Listen to Friends and Family
Believe it or not your friends and family are the worst people to show your work to. Why? Because they will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. They don’t want to hurt your feelings and in the end it only hurts your growth as you try to become a better photographer. Seek out independent people to review your portfolio who can give you the critique you need to grow and get better. People who’ve been photographers or in the photography business are better equipped with knowledge to help you grow. Having mom or grandma tell you it’s beautiful isn’t going to help at all.
There was a time when every photo was in black and white except for a select portion of the photo which was in color. It was a big trend in wedding photography and I’m embarrassed to say I took part in it as well. The point is there is always some new, hot trend in photography that everyone and their mother is clamoring over. Just avoid them. As quickly as they come and you learn about them is as quickly as they go. Trends never last. Just look at Zima and parachute pants. I rest my case.
Don’t Get G.A.S.
Gear acquisition syndrome or as Zack Arias calls it, G.A.S. is what all photographers succumb to. The thinking that the newest and the best gear is going to help make us become a better photographer. It’s all a lie. All the top of the line gear isn’t going to help you be a better photographer. It’s going to look sexy, no doubt, but if you don’t know how to properly use it or know the basics of photography you basically just have bling hanging around your neck like a hip hop artist. It looks nice, but serves no other purpose than decoration. To avoid getting G.A.S. master the gear you have now. As Chase Jarvis once said, “The best camera is the one with you.” Learn the ins and outs of your camera and once you feel ready to take on more rent the gear first before you buy. I personally use Borrow Lenses when I need to rent gear. I swear by them and if you don’t want to use them there are plenty of other photo rental sites out there to choose from.
You Don’t Need to Buy Actions or Presets
If you’re a photographer and it doesn’t matter at what level you’ve seen people or companies selling their actions and presets. They take this dull image and turn into the Picasso like masterpiece with just a click of the button. It’s almost like an infomercial. You’re telling yourself that those before photos look just like yours, under exposed or blow out highlights etc. and then when you buy those presets or actions, the final result looks nothing like the dream they sold you. You sit there perplexed, trying to figure out how in the hell do your photos look like this and their’s are amazing. Are you that bad of a photographer that nothing can save your photos? Of course not, well hopefully not. I don’t want to be like tip #1 and say your work is great; however, the con is with these presets and actions is that the people selling them purposely edit the photos to look bad and then sell you the dream which you buy hook, line and sinker. To truly get better, learn how to use Lightroom or Photoshop to mimic those presets or actions. Learn which sliders do what and what you need to do to achieve a certain look and feel. And once you get that down, you can create your own actions and presets to help you speed up your post processing process. Say that 5 times real fast, post processing process……
Get a Photography Education
There are so many places today offering to teach you to become a better photographer. There are these meetup groups where the model and lighting are already set up and photographers have 10 minutes each with the model to take their photo. Avoid these like the plague. Who wants to have a portfolio with the same lighting and same model as 20 other photographers? Also what are you really learning anyway if everything is already set up for you and you just have to show up and shoot?
Same goes for those photographers who want to show you all their secrets so you can be wildly successful like them. They have you watch a pre-recorded webinar that lasts an hour and then at the end they tell you if you want to learn more, pay hundreds of dollars to get access to their premium content. I’ll pass thank you.
I’m not saying all paid content is bad. I’ve bought Dedpxl videos by Zack Arias and for that I learned how to properly light subjects as well as learned the inverse square law. I pay a monthly subscription to Kelby One. I learn from great photographers such as Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, Moose Peterson and so on and so on. And if you want free content that is beyond amazing, look no further than Creative Live. Every week they have different classes for free while the class is live. You’ll have to pay for the video of the class afterwards if you want it, but for free. You can’t beat it.
While there are many ways for you to get a photography education, the best way is to go out and shoot. And then shoot some more. And then shoot more after that. Keeping shooting and trying new technique. Maybe use one lens and master that or use spot metering for a week. There is no reason why you can’t go out and just shoot and work on your craft. All the gadgets, gizmos and actions aren’t going to help you unless you learn the basics and master them.
Photo by Stephen Kennedy on Unsplash