As we all know, overconfidence and complacency can be a photographer’s own worst enemy. Being able to recognise one’s technical deficiencies is one of the best ways to continually improve your photography skills. Ultimately, if you’re not learning, you’re not trying hard enough. Next time you have a chance, incorporate these tasks into your schedule to help you become a better photographer.
Step in Their Shoes
This is less about creativity than it is about execution. If you have a favourite photographer, or even some favourite shots that you’ve collected, go about trying to recreate the work. Perfection isn’t the be all and end all with this task, so long as you’re picking challenging photos that test and broaden your skills.
Stay Away from that Magic Wand
Given the processing capabilities of today’s editing software, it’s easy to become accustom to fixing everything on Photoshop. What this means however, is that we train ourselves to become less stringent on that initial shot. In some respects, quality control becomes less of a priority, when we should always be striving for excellence. Instead, give the editing a rest for a week or so, and push yourself to really nail that original shot by paying attention to all the technical aspects. You’ll soon start to think about your shots in a different frame of light.
Shoot in Film
Another way to help you focus on the essentials is to shoot in film. Apart from the entertaining experience that accompanies working with the format, it’s a great method to experiment with dynamic range and grain. Colours and shadows are also another component where photographers can push their horizons, not to mention extend their creative vision and define new boundaries.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
If you specialise in a particularly photography segment, force yourself to take on work in another area altogether. The more radical the difference, the more you’ll be stepping outside your comfort zone. Doing this means you’ll be more open to new observations, while you’re also likely to learn at a greater pace. Changes don’t need to be restricted to a photography segment either. Other elements you may wish to mix up include your working environment, the gear you’re using, or even a different subject – for example, animals instead of people, or children instead of professionals.
Avoid the Temptation
When it comes to digital cameras, LCD screens have brought about unintended downsides. As photographers become reliant on ‘chimping’, they’re being distracted from their surroundings. Not only do they risk missing out on capturing spontaneous events or moments, but when working with a live subject this can also inhibit rapport. Rather than habitually checking your LCD screen, either cover it up or turn it off. You’ll be testing your vision, while also training your judgement and decision making abilities while under pressure.