As photographers, we all want to be constantly improving our work. However, often this can seem like an uphill struggle, especially when you are just starting out. As an art form, photography is all about the creative process and exploring ideas through images, but in order to really create great images you need to put a plan in place for your own development; especially focused on skills, inspiration, purpose and output. By tackling these elements you can focus your mind and develop your work, to help you produce better and more refined art every time you go out on location.
Skills – The Basics
In order to get on to the creative elements, having a solid understanding of the base knowledge first is integral to improving your art as a photographer. I’m not going to go into detail here about understanding exposure, depth of field, composition, etc., but these are key things to spend time on.
It may seem like a huge task, but with solid work you can come to grips with being able to shoot in full manual mode easily within a month. After that point, you need to understand the basics as well as the layout of your camera’s functions, helping to make it an extension of yourself and not a distraction from your intended subject. There are a large number of fantastic tutorials here on dPS that can help you to get up to speed and really understand the basics.
Taking your learning further is all about practice and persistence, so think about spending a few days focused on certain image types. Set yourself the task of going out the door to just shoot panning images, wide angles, bokeh, etc. This will help you to formulate the skills in your photographer’s arsenal and produce more creative images for the future.
No matter how many years you have been shooting, testing yourself and constantly putting in the time will always help you improve. If you can’t find a whole day, why not a lunch break at work? Small efforts done consistently lead to great results.
Creativity is something people often believe thrives with options, but in honesty, having too many things to choose from can often dilute your vision and reduce the creativity within your images. Restrict yourself by focusing on a single subject for an extended period of time. Build a long term project in your garden or local nature reserve and keep returning to build upon your images.
In order to get the best out of the images you are taking and the skills you are learning, remember to record them. Working with a simple notebook or online workbook, evaluate the images you have taken for successes and failures, in order to cement the lessons in your mind and learn from your work.
Art deserves to be shown and deciding how you are going to output your final work is a great way to focus your creativity. In the modern world, most images just end up on a hard drive, away from the light of day where no one can see them. With all the work and effort you are putting into them, they deserve more.
In terms of being creative with your work, think about how it should best be shown. Often people lean toward online media, showcasing work through the likes of Flickr or Facebook, Although these are a great way of getting work out there, they can numb the creative and learning process somewhat.