How Slow Photography Can Help You Improve Your Images

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So often we are caught up in hectic schedules and checking completed items off our to-do lists that we don’t make time to truly enjoy our photographic experience. I believe slow photography can be a fabulously enjoyable, and even therapeutic experience, especially when you give yourself time to indulge.

Woman making giant soap bubbles in a park. - How Slow Photography Can Help You Improve Your Images

When you have a camera in hand you can set your mind and emotions free from the troubles of the day and step into another world, one of inspiration and creative expression. But you must be mindful and make time for yourself to achieve this.

Man with his tricycle taxi in Chiang Mai, Thailand - How Slow Photography Can Help You Improve Your Images

Being Patient

Patience is a virtue and should not be exclusive to bird and wildlife photographers. Maybe these genres require somewhat more patience, but street photography, sports, landscape and most other kinds of photography require you to slow down and take time to obtain the best possible images from most situations.

Some of the very best street photography is not brought about by spontaneity alone, but by careful planning, anticipation and patience. Finding a great location on the streets is one thing, but often you’ll have to wait for the best light and the most interesting action to present itself in your chosen location to capture the most impressive photographs.

Street with activity in Muang Mai Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand. - How Slow Photography Can Help You Improve Your Images

Even the best sports photographers take time with their photography. The time they invest may be in studying the game more or getting to know the players and coaches of the teams they photograph the most.

Doing this will give them the knowledge and relationships which will enable them ultimately to capture more dynamic pictures in the spur of the moment. They will more easily anticipate the flow of the game than someone who’s inexperienced and knows little or nothing of the character of the team.

Thai man working as a porter at the fresh market in Chiang Mai - How Slow Photography Can Help You Improve Your Images

Observe

Taking time to observe the environment in which you are photographing will help include more sense of feeling into your photos. Rather than rushing in to get some photos as soon as you arrive at your location, leave your camera in its bag or case and just observe what’s there and what’s happening.

Use your other senses too, not just your eyes. Listen, feel, smell and even taste (when it’s appropriate) to become more aware of the environment where you want to take photos.

Lots of frogs - Slow Down and Take Your Time – Don’t Rush Your Photography

Give yourself space to slow down, to take a step back and observe what’s going around you. You will often discover interesting and photogenic subjects that you may not notice if you move in too quickly and start taking photos immediately.

Incorporate Photography into Your Schedule

Take your camera with you wherever you go. To work, school or university, when you exercise, when you go shopping, and when you walk the dog. By doing so you will learn to see your regular environment in different ways.

Thai woman outdoors - Slow Down and Take Your Time – Don’t Rush Your Photography

Making time to use your camera each day is one of the best ways to improve your skill and technique and to develop your own unique style. Giving yourself time within the regular context of your day might seem hard or a little strange at first. But as you commit yourself to doing this you can begin to find ways you hadn’t thought of to make interesting photos.

Think outside the box as you go about your regular routine. Make the ordinary things in your life look extraordinary in pictures.

Thai woman selling mangos at the fresh market in Chiang Mai - Slow Down and Take Your Time – Don’t Rush Your Photography

Revisit Locations and Subjects

Visiting the same locations multiple times and photographing the same subjects more than once is often worth taking the time to do. If you go someplace just once you will never really know if you’ve gotten the best photos possible.

Reviewing the images from your first or subsequent visits to a location will help you build a more critical eye. Then when you return to that place and subject you will have a more experienced perspective than at first go around.

Female butcher are a Chiang Mai market - Slow Down and Take Your Time – Don’t Rush Your Photography

By making time to do this you will most likely enjoy the experience more and produce better photographs.

Be careful to opt for places you really enjoy and feel good about as this will help compel you to return and seek to make better photographs than you have done previously.

Kayaw girl blowing bubbles in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In Conclusion

By allowing yourself time to slow down and enjoy using your camera you will begin to see a progressive improvement in the quality of your images. Continuing to delve into techniques you’ve not previously mastered and experimenting with new subjects will help maintain a freshness in your pictures and you will enjoy your photography time even more.

Maybe we can make slow photography the next popular craze!

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Kevin Landwer-Johan is a professional photographer, photography teacher, and filmmaker. He began his career in newspaper photography in the late 1980s and has freelanced, covering many different genres of photography ever since. Kevin is offering DPS readers a generous discount on his popular online courses “Master Your Camera - Master Your Creativity” and "Lightroom Digital Workflow." Click Here to enroll. Learn more about the photography workshops Kevin and his wife run in Thailand.

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