Often we ask ourselves how do I get better at photography? I read and read but it just doesn’t make sense to me. This happens to all of us and my advice is simple, practice! Any way that you can. Let me show you some of my photos that clearly show the progression I have experienced in just two years. For this example I’m going to use wedding photos, some from my very first solo wedding and others from some more recent weddings. I’ll share with you a few tips that have helped me grow and learn new techniques so that you too can set yourself on the path to reach your personal photography goals.
Below you’ll see the first full length bridal portrait I took followed by a more recent one. I went from basic and not extremely flattering to something a little different, lengthening the bride and facing her toward the light. Learning that the person doesn’t have to look directly at the camera and using what I have around me to make a more interesting portrait.
The second example I can show you is a simple photo of the bride’s bouquet. Flowers are usually important to your bride and she spent time choosing them and money for her florist to make them so taking these detailed shots are how she’ll remember, years from her wedding day, just how beautiful that bouquet was. As you can see I went from photographing some flowers to giving the bouquet it’s own photo shoot. Telling a story and not being afraid to pick up and borrow her flowers, being extremely careful of course!
So what did I do to set myself on the path to get better? I mean, it’s not like you can just stage a wedding to practice. Here’s a few of the things I have done, and still do, to learn and grow.
- Take Classes: Before photographing a wedding I took basic photography and an introduction to Lightroom. Since, I have taken Creative and Advanced photography classes at local art centers.
- Online Learning: In this day and age so much is available online. I am enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography which allows me to learn, test myself, submit projects and receive feedback.
- Join a photo sharing club: I have participated in two 52 Week photo clubs. They’re 100% online and offer up photo projects on a weekly basis that will challenge your creativity and force you to learn new techniques.
- Participate in Photo Forums: I’m also part of a few different online photography forums where you can share ideas, ask for advice and enjoy a community of photographers locally or world wide.
- Solicit Feedback: Yes this this terrifying however it will help you to have a mentor that can give you honest critical feedback that you can work with!
Now here’s more before and after….Cakes, like flowers are details a bride put thought and time into. I learned to take several photos from all different angles, to make the cake look like a work of art instead of merely a wedding cake.
Lastly, our bride and groom formals. It’s not that my first attempt is horrible but there are definitely things that needed to change. For example, the groom should be looking at me! I’ve learned to have couples be engaged with each other more and to get above them or at their eye level.
So where do you start? Get out there and practice! If you’re not ready to join groups and participate, join a group and follow along. What’s the most important piece of advice I can give you about your growth? It’s your growth and no one else’s! Don’t compare yourself to anyone but yourself. I see where I was and where I am now and I’m happy to see progression. It fuels me to want to progress more, learn more and grow!