Six Ways to Help Yourself See Like a Photographer

A split image: The left shows a wooden boardwalk winding through a dry, grassy landscape under a cloudy sky. The right features a lone tree with a dense canopy in a green field, bathed in the warm light of either sunrise or sunset.

Chris Eyre-Walker, an OM SYSTEM Ambassador from Belgium, grew up traveling with his parents who were avid amateur photographers. These childhood photography adventures, which led Eyre-Walker to visit over 20 countries by the time he was 15, translated into a successful photography and filmmaking career.

Full disclosure: This article was brought to you by OM SYSTEM Cameras

At a Glance

Eyre-Walker’s re-ignited love for photography as an adult began in 2011, during his stint with the Belgian Army. During this time, he bought his first camera and spent his weekends practicing landscape and macro photography. He had saved enough money through his military career to travel the world for over a year after he was discharged, which inspired him to pursue a career in photography.

A person with a backpack walks across a vast, lush green field under a cloudy sky. Trees and hedges dot the landscape in the background, creating a serene and spacious countryside scene.

“Even though I had traveled a lot when I was a child, that year made me realize that I wanted to be able to travel for a living,” Eyre-Walker tells PetaPixel. “Having spent that year improving my photography, I knew the camera was the tool to make my dream of traveling a reality.”

Eyre-Walker moved to Sydney, Australia when he was 23 years old, where he became the head photographer at a successful product photography business while continuing to gain experience with travel, landscape, adventure, and underwater photography. Eventually, his quickly improving portfolio was discovered by Olympus, which led to his current role as an OM SYSTEM Ambassador.

A person dressed in outdoor gear with a gray beanie and a large backpack is standing in a forest. They are holding a camera, likely taking a photo. The ground is covered in fallen leaves, and trees surround them, suggesting it is autumn.

“In this time, I was traveling almost full-time while I was shooting a lot of surf photography in Australia,” Eyre-Walker describes. “It quickly became apparent that I needed a lighter setup, and that’s when I discovered Olympus. Not only did my camera kit become exceptionally lighter, but it was also the only brand with a dedicated underwater housing. I got all of that without sacrificing image quality, so it was an easy decision to switch to Olympus, which is now OM SYSTEM.”

OM SYSTEM recently reached out to Eyre-Walker, asking him to create a free, six-part series of photography tips. “While new camera gear is fun and exciting, I believe that memorable photos don’t really come down to the lens, sensor, or settings, but more to the emotion and intent behind them,” he explains. “Luckily, OM SYSTEM felt the same way, and they wanted the series to be focused on inspiring and educating people on what to look for.”

Man in outdoor gear kneels on a forest floor, examining a map. A large backpack and camera rest on the ground nearby. The background consists of trees and green foliage. He wears a grey beanie and a jacket, appearing focused on the map.

In this installment of the OM SYSTEM Learning to See Like a Photographer series, you can join Eyre-Walker as he wanders through the Venntrilogie trail in eastern Belgium. Readers get to listen to his inner voice, learn what draws his eyes, and understand how he constructs photographs along the way. Eyre-Walker shares with PetaPixel some of the lessons he shares in the series, however, this overview only covers limited information. The full series includes more detailed information about Eyre-Walker’s tips as well as accompanying videos where he talks about his process. Sign up for the free six-part series on the OM SYSTEM website.

Part 1: Light & Darkness

“In this photography series, I’d like to share my notes from the trail and take you to places I like to photograph,” Eyre-Walker says in the class introduction. “The moments before and of the moment I capture with my camera. I want to share a little about how the experience drives the emotion, and in return, how the emotion dictates how I capture the moment. Some of those things could be simplified into ‘photography rules’, since there are commonalities in how we all see and perceive photographs. But with my words, through my experiences.”

A person dressed in outdoor gear, carrying a large backpack, walks through a lush grassy field. In the background, a quaint village with a prominent church steeple is visible under a cloudy sky. Dense shrubbery lines the path they are on.

A person wearing a backpack and a hat walks through a grassy field. In the background, there are trees and houses under a cloudy sky. The person is dressed in outdoor gear and appears to be hiking or walking in the countryside.

The Venntrilogie trail is a 109 kilometer trail that weaves through some of the most scenic landscapes and towns in East Belgium. In the first lesson of the series, Erye-Walker walks the reader through his thought process as he captures an image of an old oak tree in the village of Raeren.

A lone tree stands in an expansive green field under a partly cloudy sky. A person walks in the distance on the left side, surrounded by the peaceful, rural landscape. Hills and a few buildings are visible on the horizon.

“I really love photographing big, individual trees in my landscape photos,” Eyre-Walker says. “I think they are majestic and I am really fascinated by them. I once spent a few days with Simon Baxter, an award winning photographer from the United Kingdom. He really loves to capture trees, and he told me something that has always stuck with me and made me appreciate trees. He said that you have to think of trees as characters. You have to see the character through the shapes, and see how the characters interact with each other.”

A solitary oak tree stands in the middle of a grassy field under a blue sky with some clouds. The late afternoon sunlight casts a warm glow on the tree, highlighting its lush green foliage. A church with a steeple is visible in the distant background.
OM SYSTEM OM-5, M.ZUIKO 12MM F2.0 lens. 12mm, 1/80, f/8, ISO 200

Eyre-Walker arrived at the tree as weeks worth of clouds and rain began to lift from East Belgium. He describes the moment in the first lesson of the series. “This photograph holds a special place in my heart. Without it, the moment might have slipped away unnoticed. The fleeting beauty of dawn, with its interplay of warm light and cool shadows, was captured before the sun vanished behind thick clouds. Amidst this urgency, a majestic oak stood tall in isolation, prompting me to seize the precious sunlight after weeks of rain. With the day’s final golden rays, I framed the distant church beneath the tree, contrasting its brightness against the tree’s shadows and the stormy sky. In that brief moment, I preserved the rich interplay of light and shadow before it vanished for the day.”

Part 2: Canceling the Noise

For Eyre-Walker, titling this lesson Canceling the Noise actually has two meanings. “First off, when I am in nature, it’s my opportunity to free myself and my mind from the distractions of everyday life,” he explains. “However, in a lot of nature scenes, you also have to learn how to cancel the noise out of the photograph, which will help direct the viewer’s eye to the subject.”

A person wearing a gray beanie and outdoor gear stands in a forest, looking upwards. They carry a large backpack and hold a camera with a bright light shining from it. The forest is filled with tall trees and fallen branches, bathed in soft, natural light.

Sign up for the free Learning to See Like a Photographer series to see this lesson.

Part 3: Simplification

Living in east Belgium, Eyre-Walker considers himself lucky to be surrounded by beautiful nature. However, he states that he wanted to take all of the photos for this series within an hour from his home, as that helped drive home the third lesson of the Learning to See Like a Photographer series: Simplification.

“We are often so immersed in the far-away locations that we see on social media, we often forget that there is beautiful and quiet nature right outside our doorstep,” Eyre-Walker explains. “Many people live within an hour or two from a protected natural location. Whether it’s a local park, a national park, or just undeveloped public land, there is still a lot of natural beauty close to home.”

A person wearing a hooded jacket walks through a sparse, barren landscape with withered and leafless trees scattered around. The sky is overcast, adding to the desolate atmosphere. Brown, dry grass covers the ground, and the scene suggests a cold, windy day.

Sign up for the free OM SYSTEM Learning to See Like a Photographer series to see this lesson.

Part 4: Leading the Viewer’s Eye

“How to use leading lines are one of the first things photographers learn,” Eyre-Walker says, “However, they can often be ignored in the heat of the moment when trying to capture fleeting light. These boardwalks are so photogenic, however, it’s hard to not see the beauty in them as they lead the viewer’s eye through the scene. For this photo, I take a lot of the tips about simplicity and overlay them into a scene with the boardwalk acting as a beautiful leading line.”

A person wearing outdoor gear and carrying a camera walks along a wooden boardwalk through a foggy, grassy field. The sky is overcast, and the landscape features sparse vegetation, including a small tree beside the path.

Sign up for the free OM SYSTEM Learning to See Like a Photographer series to see this lesson.

Part 5: Creating Depth

Photographs are filled with depth, and part of what makes a good photograph into a good story is how to use the layers within a scene to create depth.

A person dressed in dark outdoor attire is walking through a forest with a canopy of green and yellow leaves. The ground is covered with fallen leaves and branches. The person carries a bow and appears to be looking attentively at their surroundings.

“Depth is one of the most important creative tools a photographer has,” Eyre-Walker explains. “The beauty about how you create depth to your images is that it is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to create depth, only your way. Depth is a mixture of countless factors. Of course, you can literally use shallow depth of field to create depth, however, with landscape photographs, I prefer to use an open aperture on my M.Zuiko Digital ED 20mm F1.4 PRO, plus the elements in the frame, to create depth to an image.”

Sign up for the free OM SYSTEM Learning to See Like a Photographer series to see this lesson.

Part 6: Making Memories

Oftentimes, the desire to capture photos to share on Instagram can lead photographers to block out the experiences that they are having. Being hyper-focused on capturing a portfolio-worthy image that you are excited to share with your audience can lead to missing the experiences that were had along the way.

“It’s important to remember that not every photo on your memory card needs to be a Hero shot. Sometimes, we photographers are so lost yearning for perfect light, we forget why we left the house to begin with. We set our expectations so high that we don’t even start. We dread disappointment and fear failure. The saying is cliche, but it really is true: The reward lies not in the destination, but the adventure that you had to get there. The epic hero shots will come. They are a result of many attempts. And, in the end, the journey towards the portfolio shot is what makes the story of that shot so worthwhile.”

A hiker wearing a gray beanie, brown pants, and a large black backpack is captured mid-air while jumping over a narrow, rocky creek in a forest. The forest floor is covered with fallen autumn leaves, and the trees in the background have yellow and orange foliage.

“I have been making a conscious effort to capture those scrapbook memories in-between the Hero shots,” Eyre-Walker says. “Often, it’s easy to forget the moments that helped get you to that goal. These stories remind me of the importance of pushing myself.”

“The Learning to See Like a Photographer series serves as both inspiration and a personal nudge,” he concludes. “It is a reminder that the best adventures are the ones we embark on, regardless of the quality of our photographs. Despite the diversity of destinations and activities captured in my adventures, they all require that initial push: Just go for it! Ultimately, it’s about creating memories that enrich our lives, regardless of photographic outcomes. As long as they evoke memories of smells, views, feelings, struggles, and fun, they serve as reminders of worthwhile experiences where we pushed our limits.”

Three people are standing by a white Land Rover Defender in a forest during autumn. One person is holding a camera and wearing a cap, another is sitting on the vehicle wearing a beanie, and the third is standing, also wearing a beanie. There are backpacks on the ground.

Sign up for the Learning to See Like a Photographer series.

See more from Chris Eyre-Walker on his website, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Full disclosure: This article was brought to you by OM SYSTEM Cameras