14 Ways To Significantly Improve Your Photography Today - Digital Photography School
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14 Ways To Significantly Improve Your Photography Today

© James Brandon | All Rights Reserved

As photographers and artists, we all hit creative walls. We work hard to improve our skills, we learn new things and then it seems we hit a wall.

Sometimes I think we over complicate problems like this, searching for some magical trick that will give us the creative perspective we are looking for. If you are like me you know that usually doesn’t work.

Instead, here is a collection of tips you can go out and try today to improve your photography and develop your creative eye. Pay no attention to the order, they are all completely random.

1. Visit an Art Museum | Fall in Love with Art

I can’t stress enough the importance of art appreciation as a photographer. If you want to get better at photography become an admirer and student of the world of art.

Visit a museum and spend the day studying the work of great artists. Better yet, take a pen and paper with you. When a painting or work of art grabs your attention jot down why. Write down everything you love about it and the reasoning behind it. If you find something you don’t care for write that down too.

Museums are abundant in most big cities. In fact in a lot of cases they are even free. If they aren’t free, there may still be ways to get in for free. For example, if you have a debit or credit card through Bank of America, you can get in free at over 100 museums nationwide.

2. Freshen Your Perspective

Take a day and focus on perspective. Experiment with different camera angles that you may not have tried before. This tip is only limited by how far you are willing to get out of your comfort zone.

If you are shooting a portrait session, bring a ladder with you. If you don’t have a ladder, climb a tree or find a perspective above your subjects head. Not only is this different, looking up is almost always flattering to your subjects features, especially if they are prone to double chins!

If you are photographing flowers, consider shooting them from underneath. While this may get you dirty, I promise it will be rewarding. Play with the angle of the sun and capture the translucency of the flower as the sunlight pours through it.

A fresh perspective can almost always give you that creative boost you are looking for.

3. Take a Trip To Your Local Zoo

Visiting a zoo is one of my favorite things to do as a photographer – mainly because I’m doing it simply for me. There is no pressure and I don’t have a client that wants a certain type of image. I don’t feel the need to create a certain look or feel to the photos. It’s just me, my camera and hundreds of exotic animals at my fingertips! Zoos are cheap and most of them have one day a week where you can even get in for half price.

Here’s a challenge: When you go, try and conceal the fact that the animals are at the zoo. That means getting creative with the way you frame shots.

This can be challenging at times, but it’s very rewarding. If there is a fence, an obviously fake looking rock or object, or if the surroundings just don’t click, don’t take the picture. Alternatively simply change your perspective until the framing works. This mindset will get your creative juices flowing and I promise you will have a blast!

4. Minimize Your Possibilities

That’s right, minimize. While being able to shoot thousands of images is nice, it can also dull your creative thought process. With seemingly unlimited images you can just click away, firing off shots left and right all day long. With this mentality, you’re sure to get a few keepers. Right?

Consider this instead; next time you’re out taking pictures (and not for a client!) try taking the smallest memory card you have. Choose one that will only allow you a very limited number of shots – and don’t take any other cards. Alternatively, if you only have large capacity cards just set a limit in your head of only taking 50 images the entire day.

All of the sudden, there is a certain and definite brevity in the amount of images you can take. You can’t just walk around snapping pictures at everything you see. This will take you back to the limitations of film and you will have to carefully consider each shot you take. The flip side of this is that your creative juices will begin to flow and you will be more alert to what is going to make a good image.

5. Take Your Camera Everywhere

In his book Visual Poetry, Chris Orwig states that, “Even without taking pictures, carrying a camera enhances life.”

I couldn’t agree more. Carrying a camera is an instant way to put your senses on high alert. It causes you to look at the world as if your camera was always pressed to your eye. It gives you a reason to slow down, to take everything in, no matter where you are.

Commit to carrying your camera with you everywhere for a certain amount of time. Take pictures knowing full well that the world may never see them. Create photographs of everyday things, moments in time that normally wouldn’t require a photograph. The trick will be to see these subtle events in a new way and to find a way to make them interesting. Even if you just use your camera phone, this tip is a solid way to improve your creative eye.

6. Always Be a Beginner

The moment you adopt the mindset that you’re the best at something (or even the best in your circle) is the moment you become unteachable.

Great photographers like Douglas Kirkland always keep the mindset of a beginner.

I’ve met my share of people who think they know it all. You know the kind. You try and tell them something that you’ve learned and they shoot you down, saying they already knew that. Or they refuse to accept anything new because they aren’t willing to change their ways. This is a death sentence to your creativity.

Set aside your pride and be willing to learn from others, even if you feel you’re at the top of your game.

7. Pick a Color, Any Color

Pick a color and create a portfolio around that color. If you have time, do this with several colors. Go out and create images that predominately feature a single color.

If you choose blue, consider subjects where this color is evident. Focus on pictures by water, or the sky. Go out past sunset and into the realm of “nautical twilight,” when the setting sun casts shades of deep blues across the sky and earth. Find textured walls that are painted in different colors and shades of blue.

If you choose yellow, scout out a field of sunflowers. Shoot subjects straight into the sun, bathing the frame in golden sunlight. You can make the color even more obvious in post processing by applying filters of your chosen color over the image.

8. Shadow an Admired Photographer

For the most part photographers are nice, generous and giving people. Sure, there are some who won’t give the time of day to a photographer looking for a mentor, but who wants to shadow or even follow the work of someone like that?

Find a photographer that inspires you and form a relationship with them. Offer to take them out to lunch. If you’re lucky, you will be able to learn from that person and maybe even shadow them.

Ask to hold lights for them during their photo shoots, or just carry around their gear. You will learn a lot just observing how they interact with their clients. If they shoot landscapes, the same applies. Offer to carry their gear as they scour the places they photograph. Invite them out for a photo walk and offer to buy dinner or a drink afterward. Becoming a great photographer is a tough road to take by yourself, having a mentor can make the difference between success and failure.

9. Discover the Golden Ratio

Also known as the Golden Mean, Divine Proportion, the Fibonacci Rule, the Rule of Phi, etc. The Golden Ratio is a common ratio discovered by Leonardo Fibonacci and found throughout nature, architecture, and art. The ratio is believed to make things appealing to the human eye.

In nature, it is also believed to be the most energy efficient form of design among living things. There is some debate around it but it is very interesting to learn about.

The Golden Ratio is basically the “Rule of Thirds” on steroids. If you have a few minutes, visit YouTube and watch this very interesting (albeit sort of creepy) video of the Golden Ratio. Becoming knowledgeable on topics like the Golden Ratio can drastically increase your chances of creating images that attract viewers attention.

10. Find a setting and stick with it

If there is a setting on your camera you are unfamiliar with, go to your camera and dial over to that setting. Now, commit to yourself that you won’t take your camera off that setting until you are fully comfortable with it.

If you are only comfortable with automatic, I wouldn’t suggest going straight to manual but do certainly get out of the automatic settings and into the creative ones.

You should view the automatic settings on your cameras as poison to your creativity and photographic skill. These settings take away your say in how the image will look, just short of composing the frame and pressing the shutter.

Start out with either Av (Aperture Value) or Tv (Time Value) or P (Program) mode (learn about Aperture and Shutter Priority Modes here). Dedicate at least an entire day to shooting under just that one setting.

If you need help, there is always a wealth of information on this site, but the most readily available resource is your cameras manual.

Most photographers don’t realize how much they can learn by simply reading the manuals that came with their cameras. I’ve been known to even read my manual on plane rides. What better time than when you have nothing else to do? Once you get one setting down, move to the next one, and work your way up to the infamous “Manual” setting.

11. Consider the Difference Between Inspiration and Creativity

There are a number of articles on the web similar to this one that provide a list of ways to get better at photography. Almost all of those lists will tell you to go online and troll the work of other photographers for inspiration.

While this may be a good idea in moderation, I’m tempted to take the side of staying away from it.

How are you going to develop your own style by mimicking the work of others? How are you going to exercise your creative juices when you get all your ideas off the coat tails of other artists?

Owen Shifflett of Viget.com wrote an incredibly interesting (and incredibly popular) blog post called “Consumption: How Inspiration Killed, Then Ate, Creativity,” and I think any photographer or artist, new or seasoned, should read this article.

If you’re preparing for a portrait session of a family avoid hopping online to scavenge other photographers sites for posing ideas and post processing looks. Where is the uniqueness in that?

With the age of the internet, any bit of information is available at our finger tips within seconds. When we immerse ourselves in the work of other photographers, we end up ripping off our own creativity.

Instead sit down with a pencil and paper and start brainstorming. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to take some time, but what if out of all that, you came up with something completely unique? Something completely yours?

12. Find something you’re not comfortable shooting and go after it

Getting better at anything involves getting out of your comfort zone. If all you do is photograph families and seniors, go out and shoot landscapes one weekend. All of the sudden, your images are going to require completely new camera settings. No more people to pose, no more assistants to hold your flash, no more backdrops or props, no more shallow depth of field or fast shutter speed requirements. Now you have to think about your subject in a complete new way. A landscape doesn’t listen to you. You can’t tell it to move the left or right, or use a flash to reveal a bit more light in a certain area. For the most part, landscapes require deep depth of fields, slower shutter speeds, tripods and a whole new eye for composition and lighting.

If you spend time photographing things you are not used to, I promise you will come away with new ideas for what you are comfortable shooting. You’ll also develop a deeper understanding of your camera too.

13. Use a Tripod

According to a recent poll here at dPS around 70% of readers use a tripod less than 50% of the time.

Personally, I know very few photographers who carry a tripod around with them – you almost never see it with amateurs.

Something interesting happens when you attach your camera to a tripod. Suddenly, everything slows down. There’s no more snapping photos left and right – quickly filling up memory cards. When you use a tripod, you really have to take the time to compose your image. This mainly happens because you can no longer move the camera around freely. You now have to adjust the tripod to be level with the horizon. You have to move it left or right manually to adjust the position of your subject. Just by doing this, you slow down and really think about your image.

Go out and take 10 images hand held, then immediately take 10 more on a tripod. See which set comes out better. I’m willing to bet it will be the latter.

14. Join a Local Photography Club

One of the best things you can do as a photographer is network with other photographers.

Yes – networking online is a great tool and shouldn’t be overlooked, but having face to face interaction with like minded people is so much better! There are plenty of ways to seek out local photographers. You can join the local PPA division in your city, or just google photography clubs in your area. One of the best clubs I ever joined was a local photography group through Meetup.com. This group has a wealth of very talented photographers and they hold around 4-6 events every month! Whether it’s just doing a photo walk around the city, or getting a VIP pass to the local sports stadiums, these groups are a blast to be a part of!

Conclusion

There you have it, 14 ideas you can implement immediately into your photography.

Of course you can’t do all of these at once, but any time you feel you need a boost, be sure to check back here. If you have more ideas and/or tips, I’d love to here from you. If these tips have helped you in any way, I’d love to hear from you as well. Be sure to leave a comment below or send me a tweet (@jamesdbrandon) and let me know your thoughts. Be sure to suggest this page to any other photographers you may know. Thanks and happy shooting!

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James Brandon is a photographer located in Dallas and a lover of iced tea, Chipotle and his wife Kristin (but not in that order). Be sure to sign up for his newsletter for a free ebook along with in-depth photo tips and videos! You can find his work at his website or on social media. Links below.

  • George Samuel

    would like to add a small point about zoos – to avoid that flash! don’t want to startle those dudes, do you? :-)

  • Shipra

    thank you for such valuable ideas..i hope i will help me improve my skills of photography.
    Shipra Singh

  • Jared Lawson

    One tip I have learned the hard way, and had to learn it several times…is to take your camera everywhere. I have left it at home on several occasions only to find on the way there or at the event I found scenes I totally missed out on. California Wedding Photographer

  • Khushnaz

    Err… Do you mean ‘these many’ and not ‘this many’ Ryan?? As long as you got the point of the article, the language has done its job.

  • nestor salimoad

    this is very informative topic. being a greenhornshooter, this articles that i read helps me a lot to discover the inner core about being a greenhorn in the field of colors…

Some older comments

  • Sarah

    July 6, 2013 12:48 pm

    I agree so much on the tripod point! I begged my parents to get me one for Christmas a couple years ago, and it has improved my pictures so much! I don't go to many events or outings without it. It even came with a sleek little carrying case that I can just sling over my shoulder like one of those outdoor/baseball game/camping chair things.

  • lawrence

    May 13, 2013 01:11 pm

    Awesome article. I hope you don't mind if I share some of these ideas with my readers. Its amazing how we sometimes overlook the learning curve for a quick fix!

  • April Gooch

    November 7, 2012 02:39 am

    Awesome article! I also read the article on creativity and it's so true. I feel so inspired and can't wait to put some of these tips in play. Thanks, James!

  • Lynet Witty

    October 30, 2012 06:39 am

    I completely disagree with #11. An artist doesn't COPY. He steals. Same with a phtographer. We might get INSPIRED to mimick a photo, a pose, a setting, but what's so beautiful about that is that you put your own little personal 'twist' to it. And THAT'S how you grow as an artist/phoographer. You build upon ideas until they come out your own.

  • Henri

    October 30, 2012 05:22 am

    Great Article!
    A note on no 10....
    I recently started practicing photography, and when I got my first DSLR, the first thing I did was set it to full manual mode...
    The first couple of times I've gone out shooting, it took about 10 shots before I got the right exposure... and obviously took me ages to get just a few nice images.... but by "jumping in at the deep end" I found the basics of exposure, aperture, etc. much easier to understand....
    Probably not the smartest way to go about it.... but it certainly helped me understand the basics...

  • Leon

    October 26, 2012 02:22 pm

    Hey Guys, there is no such thing as a better photographer, or a better camera. Its all about LIGHT, as long as you don,t understand and respect this principle, you will keep on wondering why the other took a better photo.

  • Leon

    October 26, 2012 02:15 pm

    Wow, my first time to comment, allthough I spend many hours on the web to learn from others.
    One of the best articles ever.
    Well done, keep it up.

  • Mititelu Dumitru

    October 26, 2012 01:51 pm

    Creative and well respected advice .

  • Scottc

    October 26, 2012 08:01 am

    All of these are great ways to improve, I especially like the ones that include limits. Seems that when I limit my options I learn how to make do with what I have.

    I found an uncomfortable subject that taught me quite a bit, food photography.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/sets/72157625691582656/

  • Arnab

    October 25, 2012 09:06 pm

    Great tips for budding photographers....I am comfortable with manual mode only..so should I start getting familiar with Tv or Av modes too? And what are the advantages of shooting in Av/Tv modes...would be very helpful if you can explain with brief examples!
    One more question...I shoot in RAW mode and then convert the RAW into JPEG...Is it necessary to shoot in RAW mode or I can carry on with FINE mode?

  • James Brandon

    October 25, 2012 04:31 am

    Bethany Ogdon - There are rules in photography, that is true. But there are also people who take them too literally. Cutting off the legs isn't a bad thing all the time. It depends on where you cut them off. This applies with any part of the body really. I try to avoid cropping legs, arms, torsoes, etc at any point that bends. So no crop lines on joints is a good thing to strive for. It was foolish for that photographer who critiqued your photo to imply that you can never use a picture of an animal or person unless the whole body is in the frame. Notice in the image where I cropped the legs (at the shins) and the position of the tip of the tail. That crop was not by accident ;-).

  • ccting

    October 24, 2012 10:34 am

    Excellent tips.. i have already applied those things long ago,, just i never visit zoos.. ;D

  • marius2die4

    October 23, 2012 05:55 am

    Very creative ideeas!
    http://marius-fotografie.blogspot.com

  • Jayne

    October 22, 2012 07:05 pm

    I am just starting out and am finding The Digital Photography School really helpful. I will try to use as many of these tips as I can. I particularly like the colour theme. Thanks.

  • JacksonG

    October 22, 2012 03:11 pm

    Take your camera everywhere is the best. You don't look at things the same when you have a camera ready to shoot. Take as many pictures as you can and edit them later. I love digital, shoot away. Some days I have my dslr other days I have my point and shoot on my belt but I always have my photo eye on alert. Shoot everything, don't be a photo snob.

  • bethany ogdon

    October 22, 2012 02:00 am

    The photograph at the beginning of this article was a revelation to me. I went to Kenya on a photo safari in August after only getting into photography a few months before. Everyone else on the trip was a much better photographer (at least the tour leader lent me his expensive Nikon 300mm with teleconverter set-up - that really helped!). The point here is that on one drive somebody looked at a photo on the back of my camera and said "you cut his legs off." Now, as I'm going through photos and choosing which ones to process, I am rejecting any photo with legs cut off even if they're otherwise affective (some of my best have legs cut off! - that fixed lens was more difficult to use than my cheaper zoom.) Besides trying out some of the tips here for the future, I'm going to go back and look at photos I've already taken with a different perspective about what works and what doesn't. The author's photo of the cheetah with the legs cut off is beautiful.

  • Cramer Imaging

    October 21, 2012 08:32 am

    I know that this is a 2 year old article and most of the contributors are not likely to read.

    It seems to me that, based upon suggestion 11, the author is a bit of an artistic purist. I've heard this advice to not look at other people's work before in college art classes. I have never heard it from someone who is truly making their bread-and-butter money from their art. Not to criticize artistic purists as there is a place for them too but they tend to be hobbyists with other careers, college professors, or starving artist types for a reason.

    My advice in this point is to have everything in moderation. Looking at another's work can open your mind to what a particular medium, including photography, is capable of doing and also what to look for in the field. I have learned about so much in the field due to checking out the work of others here and in other locations. If you have a paying gig coming up, it might be best to not check out others just before the shoot. However, in imitating others, you learn how to manipulate your equipment to produce the finished product you want. Then, when you want to do something different, you have a solid baseline from which to make changes to your style. Also, in imitating others, you learn what they do that you like and that you don't like. You can incorporate what you like and discount what you don't. Eventually, you will develop your style just through experimentation.

    Then, when you do get a paying gig where the customer wants a particular look, you can reproduce it without losing the customer or taking an inordinate amount of time with research and development. You can always take time to freewheel before and after the shoot.

  • Sue Daigle

    October 21, 2012 02:59 am

    I'm almost ashamed to admit that I have a grid function on my little Canon that divides the photo into the "Golden Rule" proportions. It's helped to compose shots which helps to make a more interesting pic and editing a bit simpler.

  • Yucel

    December 13, 2010 02:55 am

    Great ideas on creativitiy.

    Loved the golden mean video!

  • shreya bubna

    December 3, 2010 11:15 pm

    i am really happy to read these articles. it is very informative and helps me in improving my photography skills.

  • Shailesh

    December 1, 2010 10:24 pm

    Its truly worth it

  • marty golin

    December 1, 2010 04:30 am

    #5 carrying a camera around all the time.... When I first got a DSLR, the unexpected (& hugely positive) surprise was that a digital P&S packed enough camera into my pocket that I started to do this almost literally all the time, now even around the house (how sick is that?!). After some time, pondering the results vs the polar opposite #4 "minimize the possibilities." I realized a bulk of my shots were my visual diary, no more or less important..

    Most of these are not "up to par" of my always-tripod-mounted (#13) DSLR, but at the end of the month (when I download everything), they are often the images that grab me the most. They are often the more open, interesting, appealing images vs the more traditional genres taken on the DSLR. Many are now becoming "more than diary" worthy in their own right.

    Had I realized these benefits sooner, I would not have delayed as long as I did, waiting to afford a suitable DSLR & the computer/ software to support digital. A decent P&S by itself is worth the price of admission to digital land, or at least an add-on to any "filmers" out there.

  • aNaM

    November 30, 2010 01:21 am

    LIKE IT.... :)

  • Surabhi Singhal

    November 29, 2010 10:33 pm

    amazing article. i must say that i am just a beginner and this has helped me a lot to proceed! THANK YOU!

  • nishchal kanaskar

    November 29, 2010 08:16 pm

    Nice and HELP FUL tips for Photographers.

  • Varunan

    November 29, 2010 06:55 pm

    Thanks for nice article. This article will help the budding photographers like me. Thanks once again.

  • Richard Skoonberg

    November 29, 2010 01:11 pm

    Fantastic article! Thanks for posting.

  • Te Amo

    November 29, 2010 03:43 am

    Great Article, I've felt like I've just lost the motivation but then I've realized that it's because I've lost the will to do something new and get back into loving art.
    You make it sound simple and do able!!

    Here's to going out trying different settings and working on a personal portfolio to help myself improve :)

  • Jim Bourekas

    November 28, 2010 07:06 pm

    Great article. One minor point about the golden ration. I believe it was the ancient greeks (Pythagoras) who discovered it through geometry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio

    Apart from that, I always try to use it

  • Pablo

    November 28, 2010 06:31 pm

    Very inspiring. Thank you for so many useful tips.

  • Bls

    November 28, 2010 05:06 pm

    Steve clear up NOT clean your meaning. Just stick to taking the advice givin and STOP corecting small meaningless errors.

  • Michael

    November 28, 2010 02:09 am

    Great article! I feel like you heard me talking to myself!

  • Diego

    November 27, 2010 07:35 am

    Thank you very much. Nice article, I am very new in photography, but full of enthusiasm and thirsty of knowledge. I got a SLR camera recently and I am trying to do homework at the best possible way, thank you so much again. I will "shadow" your lessons. Mil gracias

  • Ben

    November 27, 2010 02:24 am

    This is a nice list of simple yet often overlooked methods of ensuring a sound foundation to learn photography from.

    Too many people spend money on the best lenses and bodies without first learning the proper techniques, and then blame the equipment.

  • Kevin

    November 27, 2010 01:02 am

    Great article, the writer in me requires I point out one small spelling error in paragraph six, the correct word is accept: to receive willingly. The word used is except: to the exclusion of. Of course the usage of your and you're was already mentioned. Easy mistakes and a good reason to have someone you trust proofread what you write before publication.

  • James Brandon

    November 27, 2010 12:52 am

    Thanks, the headline image of the Cheetah was taken at the Fort Worth Zoo. I chose it to coincide with tip #3. It was shot with a 70-200mm lens at f/2.8. It was slightly unnerving the way he was starring me down the whole time. I think he was hungry

  • AUDU IBRAHIM

    November 26, 2010 11:18 pm

    hello that's nice i love the ideas 100% more better now thanks a bunch

  • redcode

    November 26, 2010 09:43 pm

    wonderful tips!! very helpful for neophytes!

  • MJ

    November 26, 2010 02:31 pm

    Unreal and almost intimidating!

    The picture you used for the headlineer of this article is the BEST photo o a tiger I have ever seen.

    The way he/she/it is looking at you seems to almost jump out of the photo, almost 3D.

    What was the camera/lens/length used?

    Thanks,

    MJ

  • Marts Cervero

    November 26, 2010 12:23 pm

    Hello James! Thanks so much for the excellent tips. Really helpful for a beginner like me. I especially like your encouraging advice about thinking out of the box and getting out of my comfort zone. I've mostly limited myself to automatic mode and have been too timid to try the other settings. Will see if I can start thinking differently.

  • Janet

    November 26, 2010 12:10 pm

    This is a great article, especially for me as a real novice with a Nikon D90. Thanks. Janet

  • Tim

    November 26, 2010 11:10 am

    I found this article to be a good one. Those of us who love photography are always wanting to learn more, but as the author points out it's frequently about getting out of our comfort zone and seeing things from a different perspective, or at the very least, trying new things that expand our horizons and experience. Well written James. Thank you for pushing me a bit out of my comfort zone.

  • Steve Wedgwood

    November 26, 2010 09:12 am

    I'd like to clean up your use of "your" and "you're" (it's a really common problem, and I'm not singling you out for criticism), but I find this otherwise an excellent and useful, even inspiring set of suggestions. Thanks. I'm going to keep them for reference, and I can't wait to try them out, especially using the tripod more.

  • James Brandon

    November 26, 2010 07:26 am

    Lol, yes that video is a bit on the creepy side. Unfortunately it's also the best explanation of it :-)

  • Loni

    November 26, 2010 07:25 am

    Awesome! Thanks. I'll definitely have to work my way through these ideas...

  • Joy

    November 26, 2010 05:37 am

    Thank you so much James for your invaluable tips. I will be referreing to this a lot - I am sure. Cheers Joy

  • Pillowthrowdecor

    November 26, 2010 04:16 am

    Excellent list but the best one for me is the Golden Ratio. I have heard of the concept before but never heard it explained as well as in the Utube video. I now understand!!! By the way I am actually looking for photography tips/articles that I can apply to photographing decorative pillows...cropping, lighting pillowthrowdecor(at)gmail(dot)com

  • sgoyette

    November 26, 2010 04:09 am

    This is a fantastic article James, what a simple way to try to appreciate the art of photography. Individuality is one of the things that inspires my passion for photography and drives me to follow some of the suggestions already. Comfort zones are meant to be pushed and that's when it gets more exciting to put your eye to the lens each time. Being relatively new with an SLR I'm open to everything and try not to let myself get boxed in. In an effort to learn, I've taken thousands of photos in the last few months (one of the benefits of digital!) using every setting possible and was using manual mode within a couple weeks because of it. Now I find I take fewer shots but with more creativity and a good expectation of what the final shot will be like when I press the shutter down. I have a long way to go, but articles like this help me to remember it's my eye behind the lens. Few are those who remain at the forefront of history that only followed behind those who lead.

    Thanks again and keep it up!
    Sean

  • sgoyette

    November 26, 2010 04:09 am

    This is a fantastic article James, what a simple way to try to appreciate the art of photography. Individuality is one of the things that inspires my passion for photography and drives me to follow some of the suggestions already. Comfort zones are meant to be pushed and that's when it gets more exciting to put your eye to the lens each time. Being relatively new with an SLR I'm open to everything and try not to let myself get boxed in. In an effort to learn, I've taken thousands of photos in the last few months (one of the benefits of digital!) using every setting possible and was using manual mode within a couple weeks because of it. Now I find I take fewer shots but with more creativity and a good expectation of what the final shot will be like when I press the shutter down. I have a long way to go, but articles like this help me to remember it's my eye behind the lens. Few are those who remain at the forefront of history that only followed behind those who lead.

    Thanks again and keep it up!
    Sean

  • chris froome

    November 26, 2010 03:46 am

    Hi,thanks for a very interesting article. I'm a rank beginner of 56 and always looking to improve my pictures. Going to egypt in a couple of days and the tripod is already packed ready for a starry night in the dessert. Like the ideas contained in the article and i believe i will find them very useful.
    Chris

  • Nancy

    November 26, 2010 03:08 am

    Concise-practical and most of all easy to understand. Great tips .Thank you

  • J. Neil Hammitt

    November 26, 2010 03:01 am

    Smart tips worth using every shoot.

  • Sgoyette

    November 26, 2010 02:59 am

    This is a fantastic article James, what a simple way to try to appreciate the art of photography. The individuality of it is one of the things that inspired my passion for photography and drives me to follow some of the suggestions already. Comfort zones are meant to be pushed and that's when it gets more exciting to put your eye to the lens each time. Being relatively new with an slr I'm open to everything and try not to let myself get boxed in. I've taken thousands of photos in the last few months (one of the benefits of digital!) using every setting possible and was using manual mode within a couple weeks because of it. Now I find I take fewer shots but with more creativity and a good expectation of what the final shot will be like when I press the shutter down. I have a long way to go, but articles like this help me to remember it's my eye behind the lens. Few are those who remain at the forefront of history that only followed behind those who lead. Thanks again and keep it up!

    Sean

  • Sgoyette

    November 26, 2010 02:47 am

    This is a fantastic article James, what a simple way to try to appreciate the art of photography. The individuality of it is one of the things that inspired my passion for photography and drives me to follow some of the suggestions already. Comfort zones are meant to be pushed and that's when it gets more exciting to put your eye to the lens each time. Being relatively new with an slr I'm open to everything and try not to let myself get boxed in. I've taken thousands of photos in the last few months (one of the benefits of digital!) using every setting possible and was using manual mode within a couple weeks because of it. Now I find I take fewer shots but with more creativity and a good expectation of what the final shot will be like when I press the shutter down. I have a long way to go, but articles like this help me to remember it's my eye behind the lens. Few are those who remain at the forefront of history that only followed behind those who lead. Thanks again and keep it up!

  • Liza Schlitt

    November 26, 2010 02:35 am

    Wow great article James! One of the most thoughtful pieces I've seen with many unique tips. Too many times articles focus on pure common sense - you take it to a new level pondering the value of creativity and providing ways we can work to achieve it. Very excited to see your also in the Dallas area - I'll be sure to keep an eye out for your photography!

  • janesuzes

    November 26, 2010 02:30 am

    one of the best creative ideas articles i have read - will definitely be trying out the suggestions

  • jnp

    November 26, 2010 02:13 am

    this was very helpful in helping me out of this rut and struggle i've been having with making my own images instead of just following the trends out there. thanks for the inspiration"!

  • David Cairns

    November 26, 2010 02:09 am

    As a novice I found all the tips helpful and thought provoking! I will most certainly be trying to follow some of the tips to try and find my photographic style! Thanks dps!!

  • Kurt Snyder

    November 26, 2010 02:05 am

    Perhaps suggesting that photographers tackle the world of the little creatures - macro photography that is.
    This is a subject that many photographers have little experience in, but it opens up a whole new world and perspective, and a set of photographic challenges that are interesting and rewarding to pursue.

    Kurt

  • Naim Ajvazi

    November 26, 2010 01:46 am

    All of the DPS tips helped me a lot improving my photography, but especially these advises here, I found them very very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  • Almond Butterscotch

    November 25, 2010 08:05 pm

    Can someone please explain to me why that video had to be so dagnabbin' creepy?!

  • Arun

    November 25, 2010 01:40 pm

    Thanks for this article James. Quite an eye opener for me, I'd say.

    Well, there were many of those you've penned here, that I've considered, many I've tried, many that are new - but none that I've sustained! So, possibly, that's one thing you should add! There's yet another article earlier that talks about analyzing self strengths & opportunities and have an action plan. And that is precisely what I'm going to do - mix up this and that and get a plan working!

    Being a full-timer elsewhere, and trying to become a full-timer here, it sure entails a lot! Hope to get some action going! Just that I love to forget the world I live in, when I'm admiring landscapes/people/culture/places or wildlife/nature and currently, the universe seems to be conspiring against me!!!

    Thanks again for this wonderful article.
    - Arun

  • tony martin

    November 25, 2010 10:02 am

    lovely article, and I am as informed by the counter arguments/comments/links that this article triggered ( i nearly said "inspired") ;-) Thanks for this

  • Tammy

    November 25, 2010 04:22 am

    I'm looking up the Golden Ratio now! thanks!

  • heather

    November 25, 2010 03:07 am

    Thank you so much for the inspiration! Can't wait to try out some of your tips! I am going to take a step-ladder out with me next time.

  • James Brandon

    November 25, 2010 01:15 am

    Thanks everyone!

    Sanjay - what kind of tripod are you using? Is it very sturdy? If it's pretty light, try hanging your camera bag underneath it to weigh and anchor it down. Also, make sure you're using a self timer with slow shutter speeds to keep your hands off the shutter release.

    Kathleen - That's great that you joined a meetup group! Have fun at the speedskating event!

  • Kathleen Andersen

    November 25, 2010 12:24 am

    Great ideas, James. I just did Tips # 12 & 14. Joined a local photography Meetup group and signed up for a speedskating photography outing with them. I don't usually photograph sports so it will be fun.

  • Cathy Wright

    November 24, 2010 11:13 pm

    Great thoughtful article! I liked it so much that I posted it on facebook.

  • Ramelli

    November 24, 2010 10:11 pm

    Love your tips and they are spot on. I have studied photogrophy for 4 years from various books and from the napp www.photoshopuser.com, and I dreamed aout making my living on photography, after 2 years I made a living out of it and this year I was one the photographer who sold the most artistic photos in france.

    Beleive in yourself and leave off your passion it is a lot more fun than doing a job that isn't you. If you are interrested in what your are doing you will love it, and you will be happy.

    Www.sergeramelli.com

  • Bengt

    November 24, 2010 07:13 pm

    This is great tips and are worth keeping in mind...

  • sanjay

    November 24, 2010 07:04 pm

    Hey James..these tips are really interesting. I am more into landscape shooting rather than people..as I loose creativity with people, but I after reading your post, I am willing to move out of my "comfort zone".

    Thanks for the tips and also on insisting on using a tripod, almost everytime. It did have great effect. I am still strugling with how to cope with low light photography with a slight wind, when I have to keep the shutter speed at 30 with f setting at f11/f13, I sometimes get blur image and I think it is due to my tripod. Any suggestions. I use a nikon d90.

  • Liju Augustine

    November 24, 2010 02:52 pm

    Great tips. I like #5, the most. Thanks for sharing

    Liju Augustine
    http://lfotos.wordpress.com

  • Punit Sethi

    November 24, 2010 02:48 pm

    Wonderful ideas - superb article - I found a lot in this article to try out. Visiting an art museum and sticking to a tripod seem to be the most "needed" to me at this point..!

  • Benoit

    November 24, 2010 12:14 pm

    I went to the Bronx Zoo this past weekend because I was in a funk and I was pleasantly surprised.

    More inside flickr:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sigmalaw1914/5196150216/

  • karthik

    November 24, 2010 11:07 am

    'I Liked point "#11. Consider the Difference Between Inspiration and Creativity"...never i thought this way earlier.i will do it for my next shoot.thanks for yiur tips :-)[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/10050074@N05/4801832353/' title='My friend' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4075/4801832353_c78bf72c47.jpg']

  • Kelly

    November 24, 2010 09:16 am

    The most creative and inspiring article I have read. Thank you for sharing it with us

  • Diane

    November 24, 2010 07:40 am

    James thanks for a great article - wonderful ideas here? Can't wait to see what else you have instore for us!

  • James Brandon

    November 24, 2010 05:45 am

    Glad everyone is enjoying this article :-) I had a blast writing it and hope that it helps everyone out. Having a blast so far as a writer for DPS and can't wait to roll out some of the ideas I have for posts here!

  • Tiffany

    November 24, 2010 04:50 am

    I love the idea of creating a portfolio around a color! My next mission! Thank you.

  • noreen

    November 24, 2010 03:51 am

    i couldn't agree more with Ted!!! I enjoyed reading this article!!! For one write-up, I learned so many things and I am hoping to incorporate them in my next venutre!!

  • Lovelyn

    November 24, 2010 03:49 am

    Great advice! When I'm feeling like a need a bit of a push to take pictures I like to give myself a daily photography assignment. It really get me thinking and exciting about what images I can capture around that theme.

  • Scott

    November 24, 2010 03:46 am

    All great ideas, personally I'm planning a trip to the zoo (partly for some inspiration). I've also found that going back thru older photos and do some editing can be both inspirational and very instructive.

    Also, posting photos for critiques in critique forums can give you a different "take" and a bit of inspiration. This example is far different from the orginal.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/5083456317/

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    November 24, 2010 03:21 am

    Hi

    This is a great article. Studying The Golden Mean (a more thorough examination of the simplified Rule of Thirds) is a must for all photographers and will make the difference between a nice picture and an outstanding one. Changing perspective and examining things from different view points is something I try to do. For example, this was from a studio Model Shoot with a red Ibanez electric guiter. Althought it would appear that the guiter is the focus, I think the model (who is out of focus) is the star in this image - what do you think?

    http://t.co/6DZF9aE

    Cheers, Erik

    PS 90 lighting from a large softbox, silver refelctor opposite, model in middle, everything tight for soft light

  • vivek

    November 24, 2010 03:08 am

    Super.. this is the best set of tips i have seen in recent times. I am waiting to get my hands on an SX130IS and then i will start following these. Thanks a tonne..

  • Rick

    November 24, 2010 02:55 am

    Some great ideas here, especially the references to finding a mentor and using a tripod. By the way, if you get into a good, active local photography club, you're almost sure to find a willing mentor, along with a few new friends.

  • ted

    November 24, 2010 02:22 am

    this article should be a must read for every photographer ... i couldn't agree more with all the points made!

  • Andre' Wright Jr.

    November 24, 2010 01:54 am

    This is really good tips. Thanks alot. Appreciate the support.

  • kimberli

    November 24, 2010 01:23 am

    As a long time hobbiest and lover of photography, just recently turned small business owner with a camera. This is one of the most helpful and creatively inspiring articles I've read yet. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas. Can't wait to get started!!

  • Luis Garcia

    November 24, 2010 01:13 am

    Tips 1, 3, 4, and 12 are my favorites. I think exposing yourself to beauty and art is always a very good way to improve your own "eye" or aesthetic sense. I also believe that giving yourself limits is a great way to unleash your creativity. Limit yourself to a prime lens, to one color (yet another one of your tips), or to a specific number of images - these are just some ways to focus your mind.

  • Jen at Cabin Fever

    November 24, 2010 01:02 am

    All great advice, but I really enjoyed the part about the Golden Rule. While I have heard of it before I definitely am not too familiar with it and don't really utilize it in my photography. The rule of thirds, albeit not the same thing, is something I adhere to closer, but I am going to try and look at what is around me in terms of the golden rule!

    NEK Photography Blog

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

  • Maik-T. Šebenik

    November 24, 2010 12:50 am

    Really nice and interesting article. I enjoyed it a lot!

  • Kathryn Cole

    November 24, 2010 12:42 am

    Awesome article, thank you for posting! It really hits home

  • Mei Teng

    November 24, 2010 12:05 am

    Excellent tips! :)

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