Become a Better Photographer

By Ted Forbes Back to


The Art of Photography Podcast, Episode 146: Become a Better Photographer

This is a subject I like to revisit every once in a while. Getting Better is something we all strive for and we all have to actually learn how to do this if we want it to happen. Its not easy. Getting Better is subjective. Some days we feel like we are making progress and other days we beat ourselves up and don’t like anything we’ve made. That’s how creative things work.

I think its important to learn how to measure improvement. Last year we talked about metrics on Episode 87 (linked below). I suggest revisiting this show because its so important and for whatever reason its something we all tend to ignore.

There are 4 stages to creative improvement: Definition, Research, Practice and Evaluation.

Definition: It is important to define what it is we want to improve. There are many aspects to photography – there’s art, science, chemistry, physics, electronics, etc. What area are you looking to improve? Make better prints? Take better photos? Get better at post production? Define what area you want to improve in then you can go on to the next step.

Research: Start to gather as much information as you can find on what you’re trying to improve on. Want to get better at composition? Start looking at photos, read art theory books, watch this podcast. Find your resources. Want to get better at exposure? Again – there are some great books and online tutorials you can find on this. Same goes for printing or any other aspect of photography. Get out and look at photos. Go to art galleries, museums, try to find the best work you can get your eyes on.

Practice: This is the obvious. Get out and do it. But be deliberate about what you’re practicing on. If its composition really pay attention to that. Don’t get sidetracked. If its printing, don’t spend all your time shooting – start printing your butt off. Work alone, but don’t forget to balance this with other people. Get opinions. Find people you can learn from and talk photography with. This type of interaction is probably more important than doing your own work when learning. Take a community class either at a local college or grassroots art organization. Meet people and trade ideas. I can’t stress how important this is. Possibly the most important thing you can do to start making better photographs.

Evaluation: Finally you need a way to benchmark progress and see if you’re hitting the goals you’ve set. Put some thought into this though as I’ve outlined in Episode 87. Place emphasis on quality – not quantity. For example, looking at how many photos you’ve taken this month doesn’t tell you anything. Taking a lot of photos isn’t hard. But ask yourself how many of the images you’ve taken in the last month would go into a gallery show if you had one coming up. That is a much better question.

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