1. Make the familiar unfamiliar
The UK is blessed with some stupendous and iconic landmarks. Wherever you live on this planet, there will be a spot local to you that is visited and photographed more than anywhere else. Many of us outdoors photographers tend to shy away from the more popular places and seek out the quieter locations.
Exploring popular and over-photographed environments though can be a great test to your creativity. And when it’s local, you have the advantage of forging a deeper relationship and understanding which can help you capture and share something familiar in an enticingly new way.
2. Start Anticipating
If there’s one thing that separates photography from any other medium, it is the ability to uniquely capture a slice of time. When you freeze the perfect moment into a still photograph, nothing else can come close! This is obviously is easier said than done, and more often than not, even the very best photographers miss that decisive moment.
Whether it’s a unique instance of light, an expression on a face or a rare bit of animal behaviour, the more you understand your subject and environment, the more you’ll be able to anticipate the moment, improving your chances of snapping something special.
3. Photograph the uninspiring
Every photographer is guilty of slipping back into their comfort zone from time to time. - be it a favoured subject matter, weather/light conditions or preferred camera settings. In a way, returning to a favoured approach, can help us improve, but there is a lot to be said for taking yourself out of your comfort zone.
When you are face to face with something that inspires you, it’s easy to get caught up in the situation and lean on those familiar approaches. Photographing something that doesn’t particularly inspire you, will help you focus on other things, like camera settings and creative compositions. So get out there and make something that you find boring look epic!
4. Observe the Light
Studying light is essential for anyone wanting to improve in photography. The super thing about light though is that you don’t always need to have a camera to learn from it. Simply being conscious of light, its nuances and ability to transform a scene will help you and your creativity grow.
5. Look deeper at your visual consumption
From newspapers and magazines to electronic billboards and social media. Today we consume more imagery than ever. But what does that automated, almost mindless scrolling actually teach us?
Taking time to look at the images we see and working out why we like or dislike them and how they might have been created will inevitably go on to inform your own photography as you progress. At home, at work, at play. Light can be observed everywhere, look at how artificial light can impact a scene too.
6. Flex your muscle memory
The more instinctive your camera operation becomes, the easier it is to capture those moments correctly. When photographing wildlife for instance, I’m typically changing autofocus settings, shutter speeds and exposure compensation really quickly.
Knowing where buttons are on your camera without looking can be really beneficial out in the field. As can instinctively knowing which settings to go with in fast-changing situations.
If you’d like to learn more about your camera settings you might want to take a look at my Get a Grip Camera Workshops.
7. Take more photos
While people will always progress at different rates, I do think there is something in the 10,000 hour rule. Having been sharing my photography experience with others for over 10 years now, one of the most common stumbling blocks I've noticed is finding time to practise.
One mistake is to only get the camera out when you feel inspired. Take the camera out first, let the inspiration follow. On your lunch break, on your dog walk, even making a cuppa in your kitchen. The great thing about digital photography is that you can take more and more photos and it doesn’t cost you anything but time. And the more time you invest the better photographer you’ll become.