5 Good Photography Habits to Start Today


Last week I talked about Five Bad Photography Habits to Quit! Today, I want to talk about five good photography habits you want to start today.

1. Shoot every day


Those 365 projects are magical. They encourage participators to take at least one shot every single day. Shooting every day is a really great habit for all photographers. Here are some of the benefits of this habit:

  • You will excel in your capabilities
  • You will start to see the world photographically and frame scenes with your mind’s eye
  • You will be recording your life. This doesn’t always seem important at the time, but later on, you’ll look at those shots and be like “hey, I forgot about that!”

Those are just a few reasons that shooting every day is a great habit to get into. Further reading: Consider starting into a Photography Project 365 this New Year

2. Leave your camera at home

It seems kind of contradictory to habit #1, but leaving your camera at home can be a great habit to get into, especially for parents. I knew I’d overstepped my boundaries when my kids started saying, “Mom, you’re not bringing you camera are you?” I learned to harness the power of my phone’s camera to record memories without intruding on those moments with my massive SLR. Additionally, SLRs can be really impractical, and dangerous. I’m surprised my kids haven’t had concussions from some of the times I’ve bent over and hit them in the head with my camera!

Learning to harness the power of your device camera can be really liberating. Further reading: iPhone Photography

3. Keep notes

By Geek Calendar

Start keeping notes with your ideas, inspirations, color schemes…anything! I keep so many notes in my phone with ideas and inspirations. There are a few different ways to do this.

  • You can make a physical notebook with written notes and images torn out of magazines
  • Pinterest is an amazing (and addictive) resource for compiling photography ideas. Props, poses, locations, etc.
  • I personally love the app Evernote for keeping my notes easily accessible across all my computers and devices

This can be a great habit to keep you inspired or give you somewhere to start when you find yourself with time on your hands but nothing in your head.

In addition to keeping notes for inspiration, keeping records from shoots is a great habit that will really pay off. This can mean many things like:

  • Keeping detailed records of shoots with location information, info about the time of day, season, camera settings used, lighting set up, tips to remember for next time (like ‘the parking wasn’t free’)
  • Keeping records while editing is one thing that I’ve regretted not doing many times. When you’ve nailed an edit, keep a record of the steps you took or the resource you used (Photoshop actions, Lightroom presets, etc) so you have something to refer to next time you edit or if someone asks, you how you did it. When working with actions in Photoshop, I often leave an unflattened version saved as a Photoshop file (.PSD) to refer to later.

4. Backing up

By Jeremy Derr

One of the best possible habits you can start – like yesterday – is backing up your computer religiously. Many  photographers have had their entire history lost because they didn’t back up their hard drives. A few ways you can do this:

  • Back up to physical hard drives using a disk cloning program or an automated system you don’t need to think about. However, this doesn’t protect against theft, destruction (water spill!) or other disasters. You also need to backup in a way that keeps your files away from your computer or even your home/office.
  • You can use a wireless hard drive like Apple’s TimeMachine to zoom your files to an area in your home that isn’t attached directly to your computer.
  • You can backup using online cloud storage. This can be as simple as utilizing Dropbox to drop your files off for safekeeping. But two words of caution: 1.) If you have an absolutely huge amount of files (as in terabytes) DropBox won’t be enough unless you want to pay. However, any service that allows you this much storage will charge you. 2.) If your internet service has an upload limit, be careful. When you do your first big file dump (like a wedding or shooting for a whole day) you may hit your limit and get penalties. These days, most internet providers no longer have these restrictions, but some (like mine) still do so it’s worth checking.
  • You can backup to disks. I’ve burned most of my older files to BluRay as a third mechanism for protecting my files.

In short, find whatever ways you can to keep your files completely safe. You’ll be thankful you did if something happens.

5. Look at photography

I’m amazed about how many photographers can’t name photographers they love most or photographers who have inspired their work. This begs me to ask…are you looking at photography? Do you think any musicians draw a blank when asked what music they draw their influences from? Or painters? Or writers? What goes in, comes out. You must must must get into the habit of soaking up imagery on a regular basis. Become a fan of photography – not just making it, but enjoying it. Visit exhibits. Read books. Scan the web. Some tips for viewing photography:

  • Don’t only view the genre(s) that you like to make. Just because you like taking portraits, that doesn’t mean you can’t become a fan of a great landscape photographer.
  • Don’t be afraid to copy. Photography stands alone in so many ways but it doesn’t have to. One way is that we’re afraid to admit what photographers inspire our work because we think that in saying this, we’re saying that we think we’re like them. This isn’t true in photography any more than in the music industry or any other art form. Another way we stand alone is that we’re afraid to copy. Because of the internet and the pervasiveness of intellectual theft, we’re afraid to experiment with copying. Now, I’m not talking about plaigarism or peddling someone else’s ideas as your own. Further reading: 15 tips for copycatting your way to success.
  • Learn to read images. When you view a piece, stop for a moment and really soak it in. This can be hard these days when we’re chasing content faster than ever before. But stop, breathe and enjoy. Further reading: how to read a photograph

Also, viewing photography can be a great substitute when you’re not in a position to get out and shoot or when in a rut.

These have only been five habits and I’m sure there are many more! What helpful habits do you have?

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

  • dclivejazz

    Van Gogh certainly was well educated in the history of art, worked at one time as a dealer and was well acquainted with the painters of his day. He developed a unique style of his own, but it is grounded on principles he had learned and experimented with.

    Almost any famous painter you’ve ever heard of is well-versed in the work of others. They also mostly adhere to a similar set of centuries old compositional principles, despite their stylistic differences on the surface. There are some exceptions but much less than people think.

    I’m pretty new to serious photography but fairly experienced with drawing and painting. It seems to me the fields have lots of similarity. It takes study and applying yourself to get better.

  • kaptink

    Do it. I have been since Jan 1st this year, on Flickr; what an experience! Don’t go into it lightly. It’s hard. It’s hard to force yourself to get yourself behind the lens and make that photo when you feel like you don’t have time. It’s hard to make yourself go out in crappy weather when you don’t feel like it. It’s hard to find new stuff when you’ve been everywhere photogenic within 10 miles of home and in your other usual haunts. (You can stay in the house and photograph the first thing you point the camera at but that’s not what it’s about; it’s not about taking a photo every day – it’s about MAKING a photo every day.) It’s hard to carry a DSLR with you every day and at least one lens (I’ve switched to a back pack instead of shoulder bag – I’ve avoided the DSLR and used the compact at times, and got some very decent results, but in tricky light or movement situations there’s really only one option).

    So it’s hard, but is it rewarding? Yes, yes, yes. You will learn to use your camera (and probably find within 6 months that you need to upgrade). You will improve all aspects of your technique from spotting the opportunity to ending up with the shot you wanted in all sorts of lighting and weather conditions. You will learn how much you have to learn. You will make a diary of your life over four seasons that is a joy to relive every now and again. You will look back at the end and amaze yourself with the collection of places and subjects and situations you have captured. And you will develop a little circle of followers who will encourage you and make you proud and keep you going by experiencing the thing every photographer needs: an outlet for their creativity. BUT, you’ll only get out what you put in. Over to you. Be bold; learn to approach people and ask if you can photograph them. Learn not to be self-conscious wielding a camera in public places. Get on Flickr and be a photographer.

    In case you should want a browse you can find my 365 here:


    Follow me, if you like, and I’ll reciprocate if it will help.

    Now I have a dilemma: what do I do on Jan 1st 2014?….I’m not sure I can stop.

  • Sharon A

    Though I take almost 365 and do street photography, I always regret when I do not have big camera around my neck. A weekly group can be great too, 52 Frames on Facebook for example, one theme per week, enough stress for busy people. http://www.rjstreets.com

  • Hugh

    Thank you, Elizabeth. I have been photographing for over 45 years and this is a truly simple but all inclusive article on becoming a more satisfied photographer!! Thanks again for excellent advice.

  • SJonathanW

    My 1st DSLR comes in the mail tomorrow. Nikon D3200. Very excited to start learning.

  • kaptink

    Your second point first as I can deal with it quickly; take inspiration from others’ work, whether they are famous or just someone you see on Flickr. Look, be inspired, experiment, learn, develop.

    On the first point I can’t disagree more; I’ve been out every day this year and my learning has taken off. The key is to THINK about what you are doing and to LEARN from every shot. Then you get to visualise shots; then you get to understand the light; then you get to know how to set up and control your equipment quickly and efficiently to best effect and so that you don’t miss a shot; then you learn to compose naturally; then you improve your technique so you can get that sharp handheld shot in low light


    or the correct amount of deliberate motion blur.


    And you learn when there is a shot and when there isn’t and if there isn’t you walk on by. I went out this year with a friend. In three hours I took about 50 shots, He took more than 300. And guess who came out with more decent images?

    I carry a heavy, pro-level (D300S) camera and at least one lens with me every day on my London commute. I spend at least half an hour a day on a shoot, on my way to work in the morning, on my way home in the evening or in a break during the day. At weekends I might rise very early and head off to a chosen location to capture a landscape in the golden hour or alternatively at the end of the day if the light is good. If on holiday I will have my equipment with me and take myself off for a quiet hour on my own to try new locations. If working away from home I will make time to explore new locations and make new images (like in Stoke recently, making the most of the industrial landscape opportunities on hand). I try my hand at street, landscapes, seascapes and portraits in all sorts of light and weather. I’ve learned to approach strangers and ask if I can take their photo. I may take 50 or 60 photos in the course of a half-hour shoot, but there will be only four or five different subjects or compositions: I experiment with different settings and slightly different framing so I can learn what works, or I fire off a number of shots of the same thing because I’m shooting in low light with the slowest shutter speed I feel I can hand hold and I know that at least one of my several shots will achieve the desired sharpness for the noise level I’ll accept and the depth of field I’m looking for. Each day I sift through the photos I’ve taken and quickly discard any I’m not happy with, taking mental note of what worked and what didn’t. Of what remains I pick the best one or two and post them on Flickr. This job gets harder as it’s increasingly difficult to narrow it down to just one or two.

    Have I become a lazy photographer? I’d say the opposite. I have become a competent and focused photographer. You only get lazy if you let yourself and/or you just don’t care. And if you do that you’re not a photographer anyway. You’re just a bloke with a flash camera.

    Here is my Flickr 365 set. It contains at least one photo for every day this year. You can look at my early work and look at my later work and judge whether my learning has been stunted.


    Let me talk bluntly, without meaning to cause offence, based on my own very personal, challenging experience. I really believe you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Cheryl Garrity


    Nice article. I need to make myself photograph daily. I know it would help me improve my photographs. As I am out photographing, I think it would be helpful to explore different features of my camera. It should help me be ready to choose all the settings quickly when the perfect shot is at hand.

    It would also help me to look at photographs of really good photographers. I wouldn’t want to copy, but it might help me better absorb the intricacies of composition and light.



  • Annie

    I’ve been into “art photography” for under 2 years, so I’m a newbie. I study photography all over the internet and in books. I make notes constantly (I’m writing a manual of tips, tricks and guidelines but only for my own use). I suck up info from the internet like a sponge, including getting to know the best teachers (like
    Darlene!) and subscribe to the sites that suit my learning style (I’m 63 and not born in the digital age so I can struggle at times). Sometimes I’m pumping out several hundred shots at a time, barely able keep up with developing them in LightRoom. Then for weeks, I’m in “study” mode, watching tutorials or reading on the computer till the early hours of the morning. Don’t feel guilty if you’re not snapping away non-stop! I look at a lot of other people’s work (just like Van Gogh looked at Gaugin’s) and I forget their names – but never their work. Sometimes I don’t take a photo for ages. Then I’m up and away, putting new learnings into practice. I try all sorts of photography. Van Gogh was a unique sort of artist, and that’s not a bad mission to have – to find your own way, your own style, your own pace. But WORK at it! Like it’s easy?! If you love photography, you won’t improve your skills or your appreciation of it simply by osmosis or buying new equipment or arguing about trivia. If you have a big fat DSLR or a little point ‘n shoot, it doesn’t matter. The way you choose to do it is your own individual journey – but you only get out what you put in. None of it is about hard ‘n fast rules or finding “prescriptions”. There are lots of people you can draw on but it’s ALL up to you basically. It’s so much fun, I wish I’d discovered photography much earlier in life! 🙂

  • Chongzheng Lim

    You’re awesome:)

  • jennwinkel

    I just got a Nikon d3200 as an early Christmas gift and I love it! I’m finally getting to learn how to properly do what I love!!

  • BarriegP

    Whew some people get a bit hot under the collar, but well done Elizabeth, I think trying to copy good work will teach you to use your equipment better regardless of equipment level. Isn’t teaching photography a form of copying? everybody in your class is doing what you show them to do, you are imparting YOUR ideas of how to capture something to them.
    If you see how someone has captured that amazing bird in flight, don’t you want to know all their settings and how they did it so you too can get better and capture that perfect shot? i don’t think there is such a thing as being able to “copy” come one else s shot by taking a picture as the light will be different even same bodied cameras with same lens and set up see the light differently.
    Generally you give good advice keep it up we love your guidance you impart to all us novices. THANK YOU!
    Practice makes perfect. That means take as many pictures as you can even of the same thing at different setting you will soon see what works for you and your success rate will improve.

  • DrFish

    I find I spend a lot more time taking in what’s around me when I leave mine at home, which can always serve as inspiration for a later trip. If it’s a particular one-off event, I always take it, even if I don’t end up using it. But I tend to have my trusty old Canon Powershot with me, and the phone of course. Although you need hands of steel to prevent any kind of blurring with my phone.

  • matbing1970

    Sorry, but I’m not like you thankfully. Photography is my art and not something I take lightly. Congratulations on going out every day but you are not, judging by your flickr, getting too much better. Your shots are perfunctory, nothing more. You need to think and plan. Click clicking gets you nowhere.

    I’ll stick to my rule of only shooting when I have planned and believed. That has made me better.

  • matbing1970

    And after being taught for a short time by celebrated landscape photographer Charlie Waite, I understood that I didn’t want to be like him in the slightest. However, he taught me that planning was everything and that work without the camera is almost more important. Many shots take years in the planning and execution.

    If you wan to be a snapper, go ahead, shoot everything and anything. There’s no real skill in that. Find something, one or two disciplines and learn it. The world is awash with awful photography because people shoot everything with no real thought behind it. Going through your shots and discarding them later is lazy, very lazy. And the fact you are finding it harder to discard shots tells a story. It should be EASIER to discard them the better you get.

    I aim for twelve good shots a year. That’s right, twelve. I live off those. They do me very proud. I study art, not photography as it diluted my work. You need to take a breath and stop shooting everything otherwise your progress is going to continue to be, as it seems to be, incredibly slow.

  • kaptink

    Good for you.

    Personally I’m a firm believer in Gary Player’s philosophy that ‘the more I practise the luckier I get’. I shoot daily to improve my capability with a camera and to have some fun because I know I’m still fairly low down on the learning curve. For me and my current situation that works. Photography is a creative hobby for me to enjoy, not ‘my art’ or my living. The simple fact is that I don’t usually have the time to think and plan a whole lot. You’d probably suggest that I should give it up completely if I can’t do it ‘properly’.

    I’m sure you could offer something by way of experience but I find your attitude way too arrogant. I resent the looking-down-your-nose insinuation that I take it lightly or that the way I go about my hobby is by ‘click-clicking’.

    I’d love to see some of your work so that I know what I can expect to aspire to. And if it’s truly awesome I’ll be the first to say so.

  • kaptink

    FIne. Our situations are very different. I shoot every day not to create perfect images with which to make a living but to practice and learn, to have fun and to share. We can agree to differ. What you say is, however, thought-provoking so thank you for that much. I will take it on board and think about planning some future shots while out and about ‘happy-snapping’, though I don’t think it does you credit to belittle my work or suggest that I don’t already take every shot seriously.

    I’d still like to see your work.

  • Alicia

    Photography is an amazing lifelong journey. I’m 3 years in and loving it!
    DO enjoy 😉

  • Jim Quinn

    I started last year, first dslr, entry level canon , It is always in my truck, I found I enjoy my dogs also, but I prefer the early morning darkness, the contrast with the light has always impressed me, I included a few.. Next year I think I will be ready for a bigger and better camera, I do believe in the more you use it the better you get. I also found a ton of free photography pdf’s on the internet, for every type. With winter here, I’m going to take on light painting, the darkness of night , the brightness of snow and the artificial light, might be interesting… Most importantly, post your work so others can give you honest feedback, family and friends have a tendency to like all you do, that’s why they are family and friends….lol happy shooting. .Looking forward to seeing your bullies.

  • Jim Quinn

    I would say a good camera is required to take good photographs, If Shakespeare had written Othello in crayon, .!


    It is a very good suggestion to have backups in external drives. I lost too many photos without backups.

  • It would still have been the same ..

  • Jim Quinn

    Not really, perception is everything, if it was in crayon, no one would take him seriously…

  • Jim Quinn

    He was a writer not an artist…

  • FolaFayo

    Thank you for these reminders, timely too, ahead of a new year, to take photography to a better level.

  • :-/

    Talk about sucking the joy out of photography. So arrogant to suggest that your way is the only way to learn and improve. What a shame you haven’t posted a link to your ‘work’ so that you can demonstrate your skill and show how you have progressed. Do you not think such arrogance closes the mind to progress too?

  • Xavier Garcia

    Excited to start my 365 project!

  • kaptink

    Are you addressing your comments to me or to the original poster, matbing? I put a link to my work in my original post (and it’s below too). matbing1970 took a look but dismissed my endeavours as perfunctory and click-clicking and lacking demonstration of progress. Ah well, we can’t all be perfect. I enjoy creating the images. Plenty of people I know have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve done. And I’ve had fun. I’ve even earned a few quid. Isn’t that all that matters?

    Here’s the link to my 365:


    I don’t care what anyone else says. There’s some good work in there. And I don’t care how anyone else goes about their photography; it’s an individual thing, and there is always something to be learned from observing what others do. I took issue with the fact that matbing believes that using your equipment every day makes you lazy. He may believe that for his style of shooting but not everyone uses a camera to create ‘art’ that requires months or years of thought or planning. Some of us use our cameras to capture fleeting moments not preconceived concepts.

    I’ve suggested that matbing posts some work or a link but not seen anything yet. I’ve an open mind and, like I already said, if his work is awesome I will applaud it. It’s just not how I choose go about my photography.

  • haya

    Hey can anyone tell me if Canon d600 (with twin lens) for Rs 40,735 is a good idea or not ?

  • yen

    merry xmas with new camera

  • WeBlinkWeClick

    Like https://www.facebook.com/WeBlinkWeClick for more beautiful images shot with point and shoot cameras…
    Please support

  • Farmgirlshelley

    I can’t leave my camera at home, I always regret it when I do 🙂

  • Sandee

    Tell me a good camera for a beginning photographer…

  • ChiSoxMike

    1. Always always always shoot as close to your subject as possible. I can’t stress this enough. The closer you are the easier everything else is.

    2. See #1

  • I need to heed the “leave your camera at home” advice. Multiple times my wife has had to ask me to leave it behind.

    As for backups, I recommend a combination with a Synology NAS and Google Drive (it’s much cheaper now than Dropbox). http://blog.donnierayjones.com/2014/05/photo-backup-with-synology-nas-and-google-drive/

  • Chenzo

    Love your article! Been doing photography for a year but my biggest challenge is I’m really shy and lack confidence when it comes to taking pictures as I walk. I definitely struggle taking pictures all the time but I have seen how many great moments I’ve missed and really regret that.These days I try but it’s still way below the average number of times but now I understand better the importance of it. I definitely agree about sometimes setting boundaries of when you carry your camera, sometimes people often withdraw from conversation or don’t invite you somewhere because you just always have a camera and taking pictures and take pictures at the expense of conversation, time out or having some other fun, so the balance is necessary. Thanks Elizabeth.

  • rio enrico

    thanks for the articles. It helps me more than i could think of since I’m a new in photography..

  • angela

    Hesitation would be my downfall. The one that haunts me the most was my son was in town from college attending a high school football game. One of his best friends was also in and came and sat with us for a bit. I only had a point and shoot with me at the time and I thought of taking a photo, but choose not to thinking I would embarrass them. Two weeks later, my son’s best friend was killed in a car accident. That was five years ago, I still wish I had just gone ahead and snapped a photo.

  • George Johnson

    Backing up should be mandatory! I keep 5 separate copies of all my keepers over the last 5 years. Working in IT for 25 years I can tell you it’s not IF a hard drive MIGHT fail it’s WHEN a hard WILL fail!

    While I could never get on with 365 projects, for me they always seemed like a mad scramble to take a picture of any old thing before midnight each day, however there is only one secret to good photography which nobody wants to hear, practice, practice, practice. Rest, then practice, practice, practice some more! Even when I don’t have a camera I practice looking for compositions everywhere I go, sooner or later it becomes second nature and you find you start seeing things around you that others simply don’t notice. “Stop looking and start seeing!”

  • Zyu

    I would like to be a po………………………………… I need help

  • Rebecca

    I strongly disagree with most things said in this article, but I work as a professional photographer and hope to create innovative work. This article will probably suit someone starting out. But if you want to be unique, produce high quality work.. Then you don’t go round shooting everything every day you pour many hours into putting something in front of the camera that will make one epic shot. Quality over quality.

    As a professional photographer you don’t start watching the work of others, you concentrate on what you are doing yourself to make your own style. Yes learning from tutorials and assisting other photographers is helpful to improve technical knowledge, but don’t be inspired by what others are doing, be unique, it has a negative impact to always be looking at what others are doing.

    I also can’t even begin to explain how much the whole.. don’t be afraid to copy statement riles me up.. seriously?! Its never ok to copy and its not good to even tell beginners this, Be your own person

  • Sarah Smallwood

    For those people saying they don’t appreciate nature if they don’t have a camera. Photograph it with what God gave you and appreciate it. It should make you feel something and want to capture it to share that moment or emotion with others and if you have your camera with you that is a bonus right?

  • Jeri Baker

    Absolutely agree with you. You are not going to get better shooting with your phone

  • Jeri Baker

    Right on

  • Shil

    Everything accepted… but “Additionally, SLRs can be really impractical, and dangerous.” this line I think to much…

  • Royce Moss

    The one comment I disagree with is “Leave your camera at home” and I don’t use my phone as a camera. You never know when you when an incredible shot comes your way that causes you say “I wish I had my camera”. For instance, one day I was driving down a busy street near my house and all the traffic had stopped. There was a duck leading 6 baby ducks across the street and when they got to the curb each little duck jumped up onto the curb except the last one who was the smallest could not make it up. Incredibly the mother duck came around and pushed the little duck up onto the curb and they went on there way!! Missed opportunity.

  • Royce Moss

    I never leave my house without my camera. I have a special box on my car floor with my camera a long lens on it and a smaller lens nearby ready to go.

  • Juan Andrew Michel

    I started about seven years ago and i have a Nikon D200 which is not too bad when i have a dark backdrop but when the backdrops are clear such as sky then i see a whole lot of spots in my shots can anybody help..

  • Roger Geoge Clark

    You’ve left out the most important piece of advice given by Lord Snowdon. Move in close to the subject, fill the frame and cut everything that is extraneous. Robert Capa said if your pictures are no good you are too far away. Bill Brandt advised one aspiring photographer to move closer to his subjects. So MOVE IN CLOSE TO YOUR SUBJECTS!

  • Joenathan Delfiero

    It’s just…. no camera, only potato old phone ;(

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed