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Since I started blogging in 2012 there is one area where I can say I have improved by leaps and bounds; photography. I could also say I still have a long way to go to taking great photos 100% of the time, but improvement is improvement, so today I am going to share with you the number one way I have improved my photo skills.
The number one way I have improved my photography skills:
Yep that is it…I have improved my photos is by observing great photography.
Where to find great photos to learn from and how to learn from them
There are 3 main places I like to observe great photography. All of these places will require you to clear 30 to 45 minutes of your time to do nothing but scroll and observe. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy browsing. Trust me, this time spent will play a key part in improving your photography skills.
This is best done on a laptop or a personal computer so that you have a wide screen to see a bunch of photos at once in your Pinterest feed. Instead of reading the pins I want you to first look at the photos. What drew you in to read the words related to the pin? Was it the colors? The contrast? The focus? Pin some of your absolute favorites to a secret board marked “pins I love” and take some time to just stare at them. What is it you love about them? My guess is that a lot of them are going to contain similar elements. Try to reproduce those elements you love in your own photos.
First, take sometime to scroll your personal Instagram feed. Whose photos draw you in and make you want to pause and read the update included with the photo? What is attracting you? Is it the light? The way things are arranged in the photo? The funny faces the Instagramer makes? Do the photos evoke emotion? Why?
Now head over to the search area and scroll through the “explore” photos area. What photos draw you in even though you don’t know the person who took them? Why?
Take a few moments to note your observations and read them a few times so next time you go to take an Instagram photo you can use the same elements your photos.
Unsplash is a great site for finding free stock photos you can use on your blog, but it can also help you take better pictures. For this assignment, browse Unsplash on your laptop or PC. First start scrolling the main feed. I prefer clicking the settings to “all” and to the 4 photos on the screen at once instead of 2. Click on the photos you like and let them pop up in other tabs. When you have been browsing for 30 minutes or so, click through all the tabs you opened and pay attention to how the photo was taken. Was it close up? Far away? Full light? Straight on? From an angle?
Now that you have spent time observing great photography, go experiment with your camera–whether it be a DSLR or just the one on your phone.
You really can’t go wrong in this digital day and age. Take 100 photos of that cake you just baked from different angles and on different backgrounds. Heck, take 1,000 photos if you want. Take action shots. Shove the cake into your spouse’s face (um, if they are game for this) stab it with a fork, take a big bite out of it. Shoot pictures the entire time you do these things.
Now look through the photos. What ones did you like and why? Delete those you don’t like and repeat the process often.
Every time you want a picture for a blog post or for another photo project and you feel uninspired spend some time browsing great photos. Note what elements you want in your photo and then try and create them yourself. It might not work the first time but slowly, at a snail’s pace, your photography will improve as you immerse yourself in great photography.
I am not suggesting you make rip off duplicates of photos you like. I want you to learn good photography. Learning by observation is a well known learning behavior that really works. From watching experts you will soon improve and add your own flare to your photos.
For more ideas of how to apply learning by observation to improve in any area of your life I highly recommend reading Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things About Creativity That No One Told You by Austin Kleon. It is a short yet inspiring read.