Year In Review: 6 More Ways to Top Your Best Photos

Year In Review: 6 More Ways to Top Your Best Photos


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.


Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

Some Older Comments

  • Paul February 29, 2012 03:24 am

    Good constructive advice, I joined the SWPP looking for support, but lost faith when I found that their paid for backlink brought in no traffic! Then they told me to upload 20 images which would have back links, when I checked other portfolios, all the photos had internal links! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  • Ervin Williams February 5, 2012 01:53 am

    Everything I have read has been very informative and inspirational. I hope to receive more informational tips as a fellow novice to help me improve with my skills and abilities. I also hope to be able to pass on this vitial information to other fellow novices.
    thank you

  • Zero_Equals_Infinity January 20, 2012 12:03 pm

    Carry a camera with you ... always!

    Frame it up, change it up, experiment and take notes about what works and what doesn't.

    Limit yourself in some ways each time you go out. (e.g. I will only use my 50 mm prime today, or I will only take 36 exposures.) Limits engage a person creatively. Try it.

  • Dan Carroll January 20, 2012 02:53 am

    Last June, while out shooting at Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine, I had the good fortune to meet Bill Bachmann who was also there shooting. I asked him to take a look at my photos and got some good feedback from him. He gave me an autographed copy of his book which has some great tips in it, one of which is the process he uses to do post-processing. I saw a dramatic improvement in photo quality by following his process.

    The cool thing was that I was trying to decide if I wanted to continue to pursue professional photography. I gave myself a deadline of my birthday. I met Bill the day before my birthday. Meeting Bill, and getting some positive feedback and encouragement from him, convinced me to continue. I have a website but have found most of my business comes from Facebook. I need to drastically improve my website, but I digress :-)

  • Erik Kerstenbeck January 19, 2012 02:42 pm


    How about "Try Something Different". I am not much of a Sports Photographer but when I found out that The Chicago Blackhawks allow DSLR Gear, I sported my trusty Nikon D7000 with 70-200mm f2.8 and tried to capture the game. It was fun and very challenging - opened my eyes to the fine work of Sports Illustrated Photogs!

  • ccting January 19, 2012 12:29 pm

    I think forming process is important.

  • Fuzzypiggy January 18, 2012 08:06 pm

    I would love to find a mentor and have toyed with the idea of joining a local photo club but some things have put me off. Read a lot of horror stories about some clubs being overun by those with egos to stroke, despite having no real talent to shoot. My insecurity would let me down, terrified my pictures would be dismissed out of hand as not worthy.

    When I have the money I hope to be able to buy a place on one of David Noton's week long French or Italian Summer trips. David Noton is one of my all time favourite landscape shooters, a dream come true to spend even a day shooting with him.

    Always amazes me how pros have the sheer determination to not let anyone put their work down but most at the same time are always willing to listen to constructive criticism in order to improve, that takes some guts.

  • raghavendra January 18, 2012 07:18 pm

    our perspective is the most important

  • Mei Teng January 18, 2012 11:27 am

    Finding inspiration is important in photography.

  • Scottc January 18, 2012 09:35 am

    Number 11 is hard to do, the photog always has an emotional connection to a photo that's hard to overcome.

    I put a lot more effort into low light shooting in 2011, and the subsequent processing, and was pleased with the way many turned out.

  • THE aSTIG @ January 18, 2012 06:59 am

    Yes this is absolutely true.

    I do Car Photography for

    I started out as a spray and pray photographer who didn't even know how to use photoshop. I only started using it last December 2010, and that's when my photography went to the next level. As the quality of the photos improved on the site, so did the pageviews!

    I also followed a couple of Car Photography heroes such as Tim Wallace, and other guys who were big guns in the magazines. Their work inspired me to do better, and create my own style.

    I also joined photography workshops. I invested in the education before the gear. Believe it or not, 99% of the photos you'll see on the site are done with a Nikon D40 and kit lens. Because of this knowledge, I realized what I needed and what I didn't. Now, I get paid professionaly, even if I'm still using a D40 and kit lens. It's because I knew what gear I had to get such as off-camera flashes, tools for editing and printing on-location even without a power supply, etc.

    My mentors were also my workshop instructors.

    My inspirations are all the other automotive blogs out there, and of course, dPS! Thanks guys!