A 6 step program to help you improve your photography skills.

Being a successful photographer isn’t easy, even the pros still have their odd moments. It’s fraught with pitfalls. That’s why I’m sharing my 6 step program to help you stay on track and improve your photography skills.

1.Be interested

“Well duh!” I hear you cry. Of course you’re interested in photography, you have a camera right?

Right…. but kinda not the full story. When I say “Interested” I mean Really interested. If you want to be a photographer you have to know what it is to be a photographer; and the only way you will know that is by reading around. So you gotta read up on the subject of photography. Following blogs from photography sites such as PetaPixel and individual photographer blogs like Chase Jarvis and Dave Hill is a good start. Sites like these are filled to the brim with the latest stories from the world of photography, covering interesting projects, how to lessons, latest technologies, behind the scenes videos and other news stories.

And those are just two examples. We live in the information age and the internet is literally full of information so nobody has any excuse for not knowing anything. Get online, get googling and soak it all up. Make it a part of your daily routine to read about photography just like you read the daily newspaper. Take the chance, everyday, to improve your photography skills.

There are apps to help you with this too. Flipboard is one I use regularly. I read it every night laid in bed just to catch up on the day’s photography news and gossip. I highly recommend getting it.

2.Be active

OK.. so you have the flipboard app, you’ve read blogs and now you’re probably thinking. “Wow, there’s a ton of people out there who are REALLY into photography… and they’re producing tons of stuff. Welcome to step 2.

If you’ve done step one you’re already more informed then most people who just own a camera. Now it’s time to produce content which is going to make you a part of that elite crowd that appear on all those blogs you’ve been reading.

First; grab yourself a twitter account. Twitter (if you don’t know already) is like a worldwide conversation with tags to help track and separate them. Here you can follow the feeds of many of the photographers and blogs you have already read about… and more importantly; people can follow you.

The thing about twitter is that people won’t follow you if you haven’t got anything to share with the worldwide community so now it’s time to get yourself a place to park your content for all to see. Sites such as 500px and Flickr offer free accounts for you to upload images to with the option of purchasing upgrades. These sites are huge communities of photographers and comments are given and received (which we will cover in steps 3 and 4). I personally use 500px, it seems nicer to look at and there is a clever ratings system on there to give you some true feedback. I also feel that the overall quality of the photos on 500px is higher too. Don’t let that put you off though. Get on there, be a part of it and get inspired.

One of the best ways to be active is to have projects and one project type which is popular is the “365 Project”. A photo-a-day for an entire year. It sounds crazy but it’s one of the most satisfying feelings in the world when you complete it.

I’m currently on my Second 365 Project and it is challenging in many ways but it trains you to be able to flick that creative switch every day. It’s a mini creative workout for your brain and at the end of the year you will be able to see how your work has progressed over time. You will learn more about your camera, what you like shooting and also be able to see how monotonous your life has become. (That’s what I learned the first time around.)

Sharing your 365 project is a great way to boost your exposure (Sorry, that pun was disgusting!) on the internet. As you constantly generate content, share via twitter, facebook, blogs etc… you spread your name everywhere; and it only takes one fantastic photo to get you world wide acclaim.

3.Be Criticised

This is probably the hardest time you will have in your evolution as a photographer. You have to learn to take criticism and embrace it. The old saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” really fits here. It’s hard to take criticism at first and it hurts like hell when someone hates your work and pulls it apart. What matters is how you deal with it. The good thing is that you have probably read enough about what not to do at this point which should lead to softer criticism.

4.Be Critical

This is all about you. You have to jump on the bangwagon and criticise yourself too. Be brutally honest with yourself, really compare your work to others like it and kick your own backside when things don’t look right. But always go back and make things better. It’s a learning process and screwing up and doing things wrong is all worth it when you get it 100% right in the end. I am always evolving as a photographer. I’m constantly changing my style and I’m always looking back on my work with a highly critical eye.

It’s important to be critical of yourself but always remember that there is another photo waiting to be taken and every photo you take is another opportunity to get it 100% right. These critical periods in your life will often be followed by an existentialist realisation. A feeling of “what’s the point?” “Why do I take photos?” and at these times you have to be able to shake it off, stand up, raise your hands in the air and say “Cause I’m a photographer and I’m awesome… and if I’m not awesome now, I’m gonna be”… I mean.. it works for me so what can I say.

5.Be Motivated

If you really want to improve your photography skills. If you really want to be recognised. You have to want it, you have to really want it, more then anything else. I’m going to drop in a video which really says everything I need to say. Here’s motivational speaker Eric Thomas.


6.Be Yourself

After this journey you should be confident enough to settle into your own skin, find your style and be yourself. Don’t get too comfy though, the landscape of Photography is ever changing. More people call themselves “photographers” now then at any other time in the last 150 years, and with the advancement of the smartphone most people have cameras on them at all day long. It’s up to you to be able to bend and morph with the changing trends.

I’ll leave you with a saying of mine…

“Whatever you do today, do it better than everyone else.”

…and don’t forget to “Like” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter

See you later!
Dan

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