What more enjoyable way to spend your free time than putting effort into improving your craft? There are plenty of ways to work on your photography skills at home, so read on for some tips! One common misconception about photography is that you must be somewhere spectacular to get a good picture. While an incredible landscape or city can create some strong visuals, what makes a great photo is a blend of your subject matter and your ‘eye’ for photography. The good thing is, you can continually improve on the latter by learning new creative techniques or developing new ideas and photoshoot concepts. Here’s how:
We can’t get any better at anything if we don’t take a second to assess our strengths and weaknesses. No matter what level you’re at with regards to your photography skills, you can always improve on something. Pull up a recent batch of photos that you’ve taken, and try to look at them from the perspective of a critic, and not yourself as the photographer. Dig deep and ask yourself:
- What was I trying to portray with this photograph?
- Could the composition be improved?
- Is the intended main subject translating as such?
- Is there any blurriness, noise, or incorrect use of exposure?
- Is my use of framing helping or hindering my image?
- Could the composition have been improved?
Split these into two categories: one that you’re entirely pleased with, and one for those that need work. Jot down some areas of improvement, and start working on improving them!
Study your composition
With those photos that you weren’t completely sold on, were you perhaps displeased with the composition? An excellent way to play around with this is to pull up the old photos into your favourite photo editing system and spend some time moving the image around, changing the settings about, and cropping the photo. This manipulating of the image helps you to visualize different ways you could have taken the picture and trains your eye to seek out proper framing for objects that you’re photographing. By doing this, the next time you’re out in the field and need to get the perfect shot because the lighting is just right or the crowds have finally dispersed, you’ll have less about which to worry!
Treat your home like a new place to explore
Indeed, your home is not foreign territory to you. You’ve been everywhere in your home – theoretically – and you know where the cutlery is, where the best spot to relax is and how the alarm system works. Take off your man-or-woman-of-the-house hat, and put on your photographer hat. Explore your house as if you were exploring a new city or a new photographic location. Ask yourself things like:
- Where does the best light fall throughout the day?
- What are the best vantage points?
- What unique angles or elements are around on which I could focus?
By looking for possibilities in a place where you have been so programmed to use for a different purpose, you’re training your eye to see through a photographer’s lens, no matter where you are. This fresh perspective will translate into practice in your daily life outside your home.
Explore your backyard, your bathroom, or pick up a plant and use it as your primary focus or an element to frame. Get creative! Think outside of the box, and push the boundaries of where your mind would usually go. No one will likely be seeing these photos, making it the perfect opportunity to practice. Play around with foreground focus, work with aperture, and gain a deep understanding of the depth of field and light.
Moreover, discover where the light shines and how to use things like shadows, sunlight, and reflections to your advantage, and understand what sort of effect they bring. And don’t be limited just by daylight or moonlight—play around with torches, candles, lamps, light fixtures—the possibilities are endless. Learn how to shoot in different light conditions and how to set the mood for particular types of photography.
Step outside of your comfort zone
If you want to improve different areas of your photography, choose one of your weaker ones, or perhaps one category that you don’t enjoy as much. As a photographer, especially if you’re just starting out, having a wide range of skills in your portfolio can be a great thing, as you are more likely to get hired to work on different sets of projects, which as a freelancer, means you’re making more money. Therefore, if you aren’t, for example, highly skilled in portraits, get your partner, family member, or child to pose for you, and work on your portrait photography skills. Take some shots, study your weaknesses, pull up the work of a photographer you admire and see what they do, and compare. Practice makes perfect, so get practising.
Another good reason for stepping out of your comfort zone and shooting things you don’t usually shoot is to help you come up with ideas for something you do like to shoot. Do you perhaps prefer portraits to landscapes because you can’t tell a landscape to move? Maybe you realized that you struggle with creating depth or altering your shutter speed for the scene. If you worked on those skills, would you start to love photographing landscapes? At the very least, you’ll also develop a deeper understanding of your camera and a personal knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses.
Join an online photography club
What better way to improve your craft than by networking with other photographers? These days technology means that there are plenty of resources online to help you meet people without having to leave your home. If you join a photography club on Meetup, you can share shots you’ve taken outside or in your home and get other photographer’s opinions on it. Alternatively, you can also share and receive tips on improving specific areas of your craft, so it’s truly a win-win.
Whether you’re out in the field or at home, there are plenty of ways to improve your photography skills. Often you’ll find it easier to practice your photography at home as it means there isn’t any effort in having to go out. So take advantage of your home and use it to improve your photography.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.