The year is coming to an end. It has been a nice year for me and I feel I am still improving in regards to photography. Not only skill-wise but also on the business side of things, which is currently important for me as I am living off of photography. I’m writing out some tips that always help me in becoming better, and I hope they’re useful for you as well.
In between the tips, I added some of my photos from this year. I’m a landscape photographer myself, but these tips will work for any kind of photography (I hope).
Tip #1. Get out of your comfort zone: do another type of photography then what you’re used to. I’m a pure landscape and cityscape photographer. But I do street photography from time to time. Or join a friend in the studio for a portrait. It gets you out of your comfort zone and really makes you look at things in a different way.
Tip #2. Be open to feedback. Ask your close friends and family what they really think of your work. Tell them to be honest. Feedback is super important. I am a professional landscape photographer but I am always open to criticism. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t, but I am open to it. I see a lot of people immediately go into defense mode when they get any form of criticism. This is not how you improve. Also, realize that the majority of people looking at your photos are not photographers, so asking your friends and family is actually the best feedback you can get.
Tip #3. Spend less time looking at others and more on improving yourself. I see a lot of salty and jealous people online. I always ask myself why people do that. If you find yourself putting down others on social media or forums, for whatever reason: stop doing it and spend that time improving yourself. It’s a win-win.
Tip #4. Try to do a photography session at least once a week. No matter the circumstances, weather, etc. This goes for any kind of photography, whether it is landscape or portrait. I find that if I push myself to take photos, even when I am in a non-creative mood, I will always come home with something I did not expect.
Tip #5. Try out a lens you would normally not use and use this lens a whole day (rent or borrow it). I recently discovered that I absolutely love the new Sony 24 f/1.4 GM lens. Normally I would not think of getting a lens like that but by just using it for a day or two I now completely love it. Mainly because of the beautiful foreground bokeh that I can get really creative with. Another example is a fisheye. I can spend days finding crazy angles with it, even for portraits. These are just some examples. Really, try out something new!
Tip #6. For landscape photographers: try to visit a new place or country every year. It is, of course, easy to see all the amazing places online and then take the same epic shots when you visit them yourself. I do it too. But I try to get that healthy mix of sometimes shooting the ‘hero shots’ and also do at least 1 trip every year where I don’t really know what shots I will come home with.
Tip #7. And do the opposite: really explore your hometown. There are countless photo opportunities everywhere. I only noticed them around my house when I really started looking. When you live somewhere you tend to take everything for granted and don’t see the beauty. It can be landscapes, architectural sites, places for portraits shoots, basically anything.
Tip #8. Have a good website and domain to share your photos. Websites are often underestimated. Of course its easier to reach people via social media, but a good website is still something where you can show your work exactly how you want it, and also show yourself as a person.
Tip #9. Do a workshop with a photographer that you really admire. Workshops from good photographers can really help you improve because they take the time to explain their workflow and you get to ask direct questions about everything. You pay a price, but there is often great value in it.
Tip #10. Spend time in the subreddit /r/photography. People are often very helpful there. Don’t be scared to ask beginner questions. I get them all the time!
Feel free to add tips to this list!
About the author: Albert Dros is an award-winning Dutch photographer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. His work has been published by some of the world’s biggest media channels, including TIME, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail, and National Geographic. You can find more of his work on his website, or by following him on Facebook and Instagram.