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Whether you take photos of yourself or others, professionally or as an amateur, there are always ways to improve your craft. As with any skill, time and practice are key to enhancing talent and expertise. However, even frequent photographers can get feel stifled or set their ways and benefit from a fresh take on their profession or hobby.
Photography can be a way to make money but its main intent is presenting polished, beautiful, inventive, professional images which help capture a person, product, situation, or idea in a fresh way.
Read all you can on photography. Start with your camera’s instruction manual. User manuals are an often skipped or neglected tool which may teach you a few tricks of the trade. Even if you’ve owned your camera for years, start there. Lost your manual? Look online in a search engine, as most companies offer online versions for free.
Beyond just reading the manual or instruction guide, learn and apply what you’ve learned in the real world. There will be a period where applying the information or trying out new settings might be confusing and take practice. Don’t let this stop you. The top people in every hobby or professional all had to start somewhere.
Use a tripod or other tools along with your camera will enhance its capabilities, help you frame a shot or vision, and make your photographs have a glow of professionalism which really stands out. Consider lighting tools, which can dramatically change a finished product.
Show your work to family, friends, or colleagues whose opinion you trust. What stands out in your work? What are your strengths? Expand on your strengths and try and showcase them in all of the photography you do, while still keeping your art inventive.
Either by looking at your work critically, recognizing where you struggle, or again soliciting the suggestions of a chosen few, consider where you might want to improve. For example, maybe you specialize in fashion photography and are great at styling high end photos, but have too many portraits in your portfolio, etc.
Perhaps this means putting your photography up in a prominent place at work or home. For others, it may mean selling their work on Etsy. Whatever method you choose, let your work discover its place in the world, by people being able to see it.
In this same vein, once you’re comfortable displaying your work (or even if it takes a push and a hope and a prayer to do so), a great way to make your mark in the world of photography is by approaching local gallery representative or owners, or co-op galleries, and asking to be a featured photographer or participate in a group show. This can be difficult for artists and photographers to do, but don’t be discouraged if you strike out at the first few galleries you approach. This is one area where persistence definitely pays off.
Photography contests can vary from distant judges you never hear feedback from, to online contests where the person with the most likes wins. Look for the comments your work receives and try not to take the negative comments as anything more than one individual’s opinion or potentially constructive criticism.
Regardless of the venue or modality you choose to offer your work, if it is being displayed in person (as opposed to online), make sure that the framing or presentation of your work adds to its virtue and likability.
Don’t spend all your money on prints if you’ve yet to even sell one photograph, but consider investing in prints of some of your top photographs, which you can price for sale.
Management of your online persona might be through social media sites which are image heavy (like Instagram) or through other platforms like a personal or professional website, Twitter, or Facebook. They all matter. Each platform you use should present an image that highlights the strengths of yourself, your work, or your journey. Though you don’t need to present yourself in an insincere way, as savvy internet users tend to see through that in a moment, do think of yourself as a ‘brand’ that highlight what you want the world to see.
Imagine that you’ve followed number 12 to a “t” only to discover yourself being misrepresented by strangers or thieves online! Check out berify.com‘s reverse image search to make sure your images are not being stolen in a way which does not represent you or give you credit. Berify’s tagging and scheduling features make it simple to automatically and periodically scan the web to see if your work is being stolen.
Part of making your photography better is having tight creative control over how, why, and where your images are utilized.
Just as you considered feedback on your work, now you can become the photography critic. Take a look at the photography of people in the same level of creativity or success as you. What are they doing right? What would you improve upon? Now, take it a step further… Find your favorite photographs or photographers and look at what captivates you. Even if the work is something you aspire to create, find at least one or two things you would do differently. Reviewing your work and the work of others helps you develop an eye for detail and personal style, which will benefit your art form.
Maybe being the critic really appeals to you. If so, become a reviewer of photography and be the person people send their submissions to! If starting and maintaining your own blog feels daunting, write a post as a guest reviewer about a photography you saw online or at a gallery show, which you think will stand out. Your bio under your reviews can also draw “clicks” and traffic to your website or personal photography accounts.
Yes, an actual binder of your work to carry with you and present to those who ask- whether interested gallery owners, clients or purchasers.
Your portfolio of photography shouldn’t just be in a binder, however. Nor should your work only be on a wall in someone’s living room or office. Though selling a photograph feels wonderful and is a great success, you should also have a website based portfolio with your contact information, bio, and at least a few showcased photographic pieces.
Take a road trip within a drivable distance (or a plane flight, if that is within your schedule or budget). Whether you shoot landscapes, animals, objects, or people driven shots, take your images on the road (okay, maybe not if you work involves animals). Drive to a nearby lake, beach, desert, or landmark. Find something new and beautiful in old spots.
Consider shooting photographs at night, the early morning, or any time of the day or night when you typically don’t extend yourself. While there are natural considerations like lighting, find a way to challenge yourself and your images. You might be surprised how much people end up loving the results when they work outside their usual limitations!
No, you don’t have to hire a tutor like your parents did for high school math class. Rather, watch online tutorials on sites like youtube.com or vevo.com. Seek out the video tutorials by professionals who know what you’re hoping to learn or even those with new ideas.
Consider reaching out to a local photographer whose work you admire. If you find that you have a rapport with them, explain your craft and ask if they’d mind having you tag-along on their shoot. Many artists are very generous about sharing their knowledge. If you are an amateur, this will benefit you incredibly. If you’re already an up and comer or even a professional in the field of photography, perhaps you’d prefer to team up with another creator, for a union that will expand both of your talents in a joint venture!
After you start to realize that social media is a personality-driven form of marketing both one’s self, art, and/ or business, try setting up a fan page for your photography. This helps current and prospective fans build community surrounding your work and opens you up to a bigger audience.
The best part of our internet driven modern world is that you have the ability to connect with those who have the same professions and hobbies. Look at meetup.com or for groups of photographers and make friendships. Talking and collaborating with others who have the same passion and interests is always liberating.
Whether you power through steps 1-22, or skip about, or even try several, the first step to improving your craft of photography is to try something new and have the desire for more out of your experience. Good luck!
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Berify, located in Los Angeles, California is on a mission to allow the world to track their images online. From photographers to models, vloggers,lawyers and the average Joe, we help you find and track the use of your images online.
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