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
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
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?