In the summer of 1997 I spent 6 weeks working for a vertebrate paleontologist at a dinosaur excavation in northeastern Wyoming. My main job was to assist with the excavation and train visitors in how to locate fossils, properly remove overburden (the dirt on top of the bones), stabilize the find with superglue, and then prepare it to be wrapped with a plaster cast.
When I arrived I was a terrible fossil hunter. I had trouble telling a garden variety rock from a fossil. Six weeks later I was able to spot them everywhere. What changed? Practice.
Improving your photography is a lot like improving your fossil hunting, you have to practice a lot if you want to improve. I worked at finding fossils for 10 hours/day about 6 days a week. After all that time I couldn’t help but improve. If you want your photography to improve you have to shoot a lot.
Over the last few days I’ve been going through my image archives and I see a clear improvement in my pictures over the last 2 years. I can now see images in places where I didn’t before. In fact, I now know to look for images in places I wouldn’t have before. You can do this too but it just takes time.
I’m going to give you a few tips to help you improve your images.
- Take your camera with you everywhere – I mean everywhere. The grocery store, the bank, when you pickup the kids from school, when you go lunch, when you walk the dog, EVERYWHERE!!! If you are a woman, I would urge you to get a camera bag that will double as a purse.
- Don’t take just one picture – My hometown is a biggest tourist destination so I see lots of tourist snapping pics of landmarks. They spent a little bit of time setting up the shot and they take one picture. The dirty little secret of pro photographers is they take a lot of images. Shoot one up close, try one from far away, try one from down low or up high, look behind you there may be a better shot in that direction. Don’t take just one shot.
- Change your routine – If you take a certain route home try taking a different one and look for something interesting to shoot. Try getting up earlier and going outside in the early morning “magic hour” light and looking for an interesting image. Maybe stay up late and try long-exposure night time photography.
- Start a 365 Project – Take one picture every day for a year and post it to Facebook, Google Plus, or Flickr. By forcing yourself to take a picture everyday you also force yourself to look for images.
Hopefully you will take read these tips and put them into practice and in a year or two, you too will look at your old pictures and see the improvement you have made.