Everyone is always asking me what piece of fancy gear will make their photos better. The truth is, while new equipment is nice, it’s unlikely to improve your work on its own. In fact, extraordinary photos are made all the time on basic equipment (you’ve seen those iPhone ads!). Instead, I clue newbies in on the real secret for awesome shots: Make more photographs, don’t snap more frames. Commit that motto to memory, grab your camera, and let’s get started.
It’s all about quality, not quantity: Aimlessly snapping away on burst mode won’t make your pictures better. Instead, be thoughtful about composing your images and then reflect on your results. When you review all of your favorite images, what do they have in common? If you’re not happy with a picture, ask yourself what makes it less successful and aim to avoid repeating it. Ultimately, this kind of reflection and revision is the only way to get better at anything.
Browse Instagram and Pinterest for shots you love, and keep a list of what makes those photos great. Study the angle and direction of the lighting or look at their position relative to the subject. Ask yourself, “How did they get that shot?” Taking cues from photographers you admire is a great way to push yourself to improve. In time, your own visual style will develop.
Try and try again
Once you begin to understand the qualities that go into great images, set goals that challenge you to repeat what works. Want to improve your use of natural light? Photograph the same subject at different times throughout the day to see how the movement of the sun impacts the look and feel of the image. If you want to improve your use of color, try capturing complementary colors or monochromatic scenes. Remember: take time to reflect on your work. Which images do you like better and why? If you’re not quite sure what photographic qualities you want to focus on, try finding a photography challenge list for a week, a month, or more and use the prompts as inspiration each day.
Share your work
Racking up likes on social media is a helpful way to hold yourself accountable to making a photograph a day, but don’t feel like you have to publish everything. Or that every shot you take has to be Insta-worthy. Making a photo a day isn’t about capturing a photograph you love every day. It’s about making some photographs you love, and more importantly, learning from the ones you don’t.