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It’s been a few years since I wrote 10 Ways to Top Your Best 2008 Photographs, and the tips are as relevant today as they were back then. In order to improve it is important to take stock of where you’ve been and where you are in terms of your individual development as a photographer. Whether you enjoy taking photos for fun or strive to be a professional its always a good idea around New Years to look back at your best photos of the year prior and evaluate how you’re progressing and where you need work. It is this core element that makes evaluating your best photos of the year such a valuable exercise as it provides you an opportunity to be honest with yourself about what you liked, didn’t like and identify areas of growth that you’d like to pursue to be an even better photographer. To build on my previous 10 tips here are 6 more tips to put you on track to get better photos each and every year .
11. Photo Editing
As you photo edit, selecting the best photos of an image set, learn to separate your photo from your photo taking experience. Invariably every photographer remembers the moment they took a photo or the journey it took to get that photo and become emotionally invested. One’s personal adventures and journeys add a lot to the meaning of an image to you the photographer, but more times than not that is not what a viewer sees or experiences. A photo viewer sees a visual representation of a very brief moment in time, usually without context to know more about the effort taken to get the photo or the emotional significance of those in the photo. Learning to see through the cloud of your emotional investment will allow you to more clearly evaluate and edit your work.
12. Follow A Photo Hero
Since my original article was published on DPS back in 2008 several amateur and professional photographers have been able to make full use of Social Media to the make themselves easy to follow and approach on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Follow your photo hero(s) via social media sites. If one photographer more than another is someone whom you’re inspired by then take note of their photo philosophy, influences, recommended reading and build on their influence to help you grow and define yourself as an individual photographer rather than a clone.
13. Professional Critiques and Workshops
While the Internet provides us all with great free or nearly free online resources nothing matches the one-on-one instruction of a professional photographer. As you grow as a photographer it will pay to get the personal guidance and advice of a professional to help you achieve your goals. Whether your goals are to successfully photograph specific subjects, find new ways to think creatively, learn specific software or become more technically proficient with your camera private workshops or critique sessions can put you on a fast track to grow and improve.
14. Find a Photography Mentor
Find someone at a higher level of skill than you to mentor you and go out and take photographs with. A mentor could be a close friend, an acquaintance or a professional photographer. In working with a mentor you’ll get direct in-person feedback to questions, pick up ideas and solutions that you might have never thought to ask about in online forums and enjoy a closer camaraderie with someone you know and respect.
15. Inspiration + Education = eBooks
In the past few years there has been a renaissance in the world of self-publishing and several photographers have taken advantage by releasing eBooks in the form of PDFs, ePub files and mobile applications. eBooks are far more comprehensive than blogs and are a great alternative to traditional books as they can contain a level of interactivity you might be more accustomed to seeing on a web page. eBooks are often written focusing on specific topics and techniques and can be a great resource to learn and help you improve as a photographer. More prominent eBook resources include DPS eBooks, Inspired Exposure, Craft and Vision, Flatbooks, DIYPhotography and individual authors such as Guy Tal, Dan Bailey, & William Neill to name a few.
16. Go to Step 1
Re-read 10 Ways to Top Your Best 2008 Photographs often.