Top Ten Ways To Become A Better Photographer

Helpful tips to enhance your skills

David Letterman and Top Ten lists are synonymous. Top Ten lists have been created for a myriad of topics. In wanting to show some love for photography, I created my own Top Ten list. As a teacher and tip writer, it compelled me to compose my top ten ways to get you to become a better photographer.

Number 10: Get Out And Shoot - The more you use your camera, the more familiar you'll become with its controls, so when that once-in-a-lifetime shot unfolds in front of you, you'll know how to make the adjustments in a flash.

Number 9: Try - Digital cameras make playing with photography fun and exciting, so go out and experiment. Try new techniques, shutter speeds, panning, etc. Use a high ISO to intentionally impart grain to the image or screw on an old filter that got pushed to the bottom of your camera bag.

Number 8: Practice - Don't ever get to the point where if you specialize, you feel you know it all. Arrogance and photography should never be used in the same sentence (unless of course you're trying to make a point!) Team "Practice" up with "Try," and it will always be new.

Number 7: Commit - Stop making excuses as to why you shouldn't go out and shoot. Grab the camera and GO. It's easy to come up with a justification and say it's too... . If you succumb, you're guaranteed to never get the shot.

Number 6: Learn - Take a workshop, go on a photo tour, join a camera club. See the article on the Outdoor Photographer website entitled "Get in Shape For A Workshop."

Number 5: Look - Go through magazines and find pictures that stop you dead in your tracks. Ask yourself why this occurred and use the info in your next photo outing. Transferring what works is a great way to apply something new.

Number 4: Read - Do research, study your subjects, learn more about the craft, subscribe to a new magazine, read all the great Tips of the Week on the Outdoor Photographer website.

Outdoor Photographer Tip Of The Week

Number 3: Branch Out - If you're a nature shooter, photograph a family member. If you normally shoot with telephotos, try a macro. If you're a photojournalist, do a table top. The more you learn, the more knowledge you'll be able to apply in the future.

Number 2: Share - Not only will it benefit the person to whom you give advice, you'll feel better about what you did, which may inspire you to go out and make some pictures.

Number 1: READ THE MANUAL - I can't emphasize this enough. There are many hidden features inside every camera that begs to be used but because they're not obvious, they're overlooked. If you read the manual, you'll be amazed at what your camera can do. If you bought a Ferrari, I wouldn't expect you to drive it at 40 mph. Along the same vein, don't underutilize all the great features of your camera.



    I like your list but I would add one more and to me it is the most important, always check your camera settings before starting to shoot. I have this posted in my car on my camera bags because I have grabbed the camera to take some quick shots and in handling the cameras the settings get changed by accident.

    Great list of tips, though I do completely agree with Fred – having picked up my camera to grab that once-in-a-lifetime shot, only to discover I’d goosed ISO for my last indoor shot, or fiddled with white-balance – though the latter is less of a problem now that I shoot JPEG+RAW… And that would be another tip… buy enough memory cards that JPEG+RAW, or RAW alone, is a no-brainer.

    Fred and Bob – Stay tuned – I already have one written that’s called Know Your Viewfinder as I, too, agree with you that it’s important to do both Pre and Post shoot checks of your camera.

    If I may be permitted to add one more thought:

    Constantly look at the works of other photographers and artists.

    I recently watched a (short) video course on appreciating art and then started to critically look at paintings. This taught me to appreciate lighting, composition etc.

    My 15 year old daughter wants to get a good start up camera what’s the best one to get she wants to enter contests also. She has plenty support for her hobby. Thanks

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