With digital photography booming, it is no wonder we see a mosh posh of amazing images and ones that…. aren’t. Why is one side of the Internet riddled with boring, dull, and simply mind-numbing images when just across the page there are amazing, tantalizing, and spectacular photos? Some people are born with raw talent but the rest of us could us some guidance in the path to awesomeness.

     I have devised a list of 5 of the most important things that will help a new photographer jump that threshold of boring and enter the realm of stunning. 


1.) Stop Over Processing

      With amazing processing and editing tools, such as Photoshop and Lightroom, it may seem like pro photographers would use every possible function to create their best work. In reality, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it can be tempting to added heavy vignette, awesome borders, and radioactive eyes a more natural look will go much farther. Masking the image with these effects will only make a bad image worse and constructive critiques avoid your images all together. Easily fix this issue by avoiding heavy handed retouching, over smoothing of skin, and more natural colors and vignettes. Remember the saying, "If you emphasize everything, you have emphasized nothing."

 

Nice and Simple 

Nice and Simple 

Not nice and simple. heavily saturated unrealistic colors, vignette doesn't make sense, improper exposure throughout. 

Not nice and simple. heavily saturated unrealistic colors, vignette doesn't make sense, improper exposure throughout. 


2.) Only Show Your Best Work

      You just went out and shot some amazing landscapes on a recent trip. Your SD card is plum full of amazing images. You load them to your computer, cull out your favorite 50 of the 500 and share them up to Facebook but still get harsh critiques, why?

 

      A VERY important reminder, your worst public image, will be what people judge all of your work from.  This isn’t fair but it is the truth. When creating an online portfolio or gallery, narrow your best 100 images down to your best 20. If you think they are all great, ask someone who doesn’t mind hurting your feelings to pick the top 20. Never try to hide an image in the back; if you wouldn’t put any of the images as the first image for people to see, it doesn’t belong in the portfolio. 

 


3.) Take Criticism 

 

     “But I wanted that look”, “I meant to do that”, “I don’t agree”, these all too common phrases all have one thing in shared. None of them belong in a follow up response from a critique. When someone criticizes your images it is almost natural instinct to protect the work you just put out in front of the world, but stop. The only response to a critique should be “Thank you” or “How would I go about doing that?” Too often we take critiques as a final judgment of our photographs, when really we should just listen with an open mind and move along if we don’t agree. There are no internet brownie point for proving you wanted motion in an image that most feel should be frozen. So take what the all-knowing Internet says with a grain of salt. 


4.) Study As Much As You Shoot

     This step is often overlooked and a reason why hobbyist never break the barrier into professional. A camera is an amazing piece of machine. There is much more to a camera than the shutter release button. You need to constantly be learning not only the basics of how your camera works, but how light functions in different settings.  This means a concise understanding of the exposure triangle, flash, white balance, metering, focusing, ability of lenses, ability of cameras, how to compose images, and how to find resources for all of this.

     Take time to read a book, watch a video, or go on a photo walk with a photographer who has been down that road before and you will stand a great chance of learning something awesome.

 


5.) Pretend You Only Have 36 Shots

     A quick way to improve your photography is pretend you are still paying for film. Back in the film days when 36 exposures was $10 to buy and $10 to process, you had to put a little more thought into what you were shooting. To get a more realistic feel without the actual costs, I often go out and limit myself to 36 shots and no LCD. I have an LCD protector I have painted black and put it over my LCD and then adjust my settings going off of what I can see in front of me. This challenges me to know WHAT, WHY, and HOW I am shooting something.  You would be surprised at how quickly this will improve your thought process when shooting and notice a drastic increase in quality images being pumped out of your camera. 

 

     So there you have it, 5 steps that will get you taking better photos that you can start using today. Some may seem obvious, but a simple fix to get you in the right direction. Thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe in the form below to get the latest in photography tips, tricks, and cool stories. 

Have a good one, 

-Jonathon

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