Last week I shared my own winding journey to becoming a better photographer. The starting point is different for everybody, which is evident if you’ve ever Googled how to improve your photography. You’ll likely find numerous versions of “5 tips to take better photos now”. These posts can have good advice, but their suggestions typically only scratch the surface of what you really need to begin growing as a photographer.
Regardless of what your journey looks like, in the end all photographers gain a similar set of knowledge and skills (not including specialties). In this post I will be outlining what I have found to be essential requirements for making great photographs.
What you need
In Short: time and dedication. I know, it’s not a sexy answer, but it’s the truth. A great photograph is made up of many different elements, and to become a better photographer (notice I'm not just saying "take better pictures") you will need to take the time to learn and understand what these components are and how they work together.
These elements include subject, composition, light and shadow, color, and more. The more you practice and experiment using these, the higher your success rate of making great images. Any one of these components is a deep subject on its own, so to give each the explanation it deserves I will be covering them separately in future posts.
The final thing that I have found helpful is inspiration to keep you going! This could take form as a reason for wanting to improve; something to help keep you motivated. It doesn’t have to be “I want to make millions selling my photographs at galleries in New York”, your reason can be something small like wanting to feel confident when you share your work with others. As long as it keeps you moving, it’s good enough.
Inspiration can also come from many outside sources: other artists, new locations, art history, even movies and music! When you find yourself stuck, this is what will help you find a new way forward.
As you build your foundation of knowledge, the quality of your images will no longer be bound to your gear. You will be able to create great images no matter what you use. I have seen photographers create amazing work with literal toys. It just goes to show how important it is for the person behind the lens to know what they are doing, and not just how great the camera is.
Then what about gear?
Now, I’m not saying to never get a new camera or anything. There are many valid reasons to upgrade and I’ve certainly had my fair share of gear, but don't let thinking that you need a special camera hold you back from improving. We all have decent cameras in our pockets, so why not use what you have? Once you have built your foundation you will be able to take full advantage of any new tools you may get along the way.
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this post helpful. Le me know your thoughts in the comments below.
This is the first post of many in which I will be talking about what goes into making a good photograph, so subscribe to my email list below to be notified of future posts. Also, be sure to check me out around the web!