Wondering how two photographers can use identical equipment and have the same number of years of practice, and yet one is objectively better than the other? While practice is an important part of improving your skills as a photographer, there are many other ways to take better photos. Here are five ways to sharpen your photography skills – without your camera.
Surround Yourself with Art
Visit your city’s local art museum, find an art gallery or check out local art competitions and festivals, even if the majority of that artwork is outside of your trade. Studying artwork created with other mediums can help you improve your photography by improving your eye for composition and helping you find new inspiration.
Read Your Camera’s Manual
Do you remember that little booklet that you tossed aside to check out your new camera when you first unboxed it? It’s time to dig it out and actually read it (or find it online if you got overconfident and threw it away). Without taking the time to read your manual cover to cover, you won’t be able to take advantage of your camera’s settings and features.
While studying your camera’s manual won’t directly improve your shots, it can help you identify why you keep running into the same problems and what different settings can accomplish. Technical camera knowledge will help you take higher quality photos by helping you adapt to different lighting conditions on the fly.
Find Some Photographers to Follow
Over time, you’ll likely develop your own signature photography style. However, no photography style, from street photography to macro photography and everything in between, is purely original. Chances are, whether you actively acknowledge them or not, there are photographers that have inspired you and helped you pinpoint exactly what story you want to tell through your photography.
Find photographers that have styles similar to yours, and study their works. Studying a photograph objectively (which is hard to do with your own photographs) and identifying what makes it perfect or what could have been done better is an effective way to sharpen your own skills.
Get Feedback on Your Work
The beauty of the online universe is that it’s easy to find a community of like-minded people who are happy to support you and give you feedback on your work. The more you do this, the better you’ll get at recognizing your weaknesses and strong points. Connecting with other photographers also provides valuable networking opportunities and lets you build up your online visibility and reputation.
Make the Most of Online Educational Resources
Even if you don’t have time and money for a traditional photography course, you can still benefit from the knowledge of photographers who have the level of expertise that you want to attain. YouTube is a fantastic platform for finding information on virtually any topic you could think of, from figuring out your camera’s settings to properly light your subject. Once you’ve identified the biggest problem areas in your photography or found other techniques that you want to learn more about, you can find free online resources that’ll meet your needs.
There are plenty of things you can do to become a better photographer, with or without a camera in your hands. Get a fresh perspective, take advantage of every educational opportunity you can, and find other photographers to connect with, and you’ll be surprised by how far you come.