By Lane Erickson
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
My photos can be better. I know this and I read other photogapher’s blogs because I want to improve and be a better photographer myself.
I’m always looking for another kernel of wisdom or truth that I can use to better master the art of photography. My guess is many of you feel the same.
As I thought about this, I wondered if there were any tips I could provide to photographers reading my blog that might help them. I asked myself if there was anything a photographer could do TODAY, that would help them be better.
I came up with 3 things. These are not “secrets” that will instantly make you better, but if you act on these tips I know your photography will improve.
1. Study Great Photos
The first tip that I can offer to you that will help you improve your photography today, is to study great photographs.
Images are everywhere! As I sit here at my desk writing this blog, and I look around my office, I see hundreds of things within reach that have photos either on them or in them. If I were to walk out my front door, and go to the store, I would be inundated with images that have been made by others. The problem is, most of these images are bad!
I should be more kind. Maybe the photos aren’t bad, but they just aren’t good. Very few of the photos you see throughout the day are great.
If we really want our photography to improve, then we should study great photos. We should find sources that can provide us with examples of the kinds and types of images that we would like to create ourselves.
I am constantly searching for examples of amazing images. Over my lifetime, I’ve viewed millions of photographs. Because of this, when I see a truly great photograph, I recognize it instantly.
The same knowledge and experience that helps me recognize a great photograph taken by someone else, also helps me create my own photographs when I am looking through my own camera.
2. Go Create Photos Now
The second tip I can offer is to go create photographs NOW. Notice I didn’t say go “take” photos now. Rather, I stated that you should go “create” photos now. There is no substitute for actually doing something that you want to improve at.
Taking a photo is simply pushing a button on an optical machine that records what is in front of it. Creating an image, on the other hand, requires thought, planning, feeling, technique and the optical machine that can record it all.
Like the quote above, the first ten thousand, or hundred thousand, or million photographs that you take are going to be your worst ones. Each new photograph that you create has the potential of being better than the one before it, because your experience and knowledge grow with each creation you make.
3. Ruthlessly Review Your Photos
The final tip I can give you about what you can do today to improve your photography is to ruthlessly review your own photos. Look at photos you’ve taken.
Then ask yourself how you could improve that particular image? Try cropping it differently. Think about how your image would look if you used a different exposure or shutter speed or aperture. Think about how a different lens, or a different perspective would change how your image looks.
Review, review and then review your images some more. Constantly review and ask yourself how you can improve. If you need some direction on how to review your own photos then apply the Simple Formula for Awesome Photography that I discussed in a previous article. This will give you a good place to start.
These tips are not secrets. They are not magic. But, they are true and they work. I hope they help you improve your photography.
Always open to comments, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and even your critiques. Have a great Friday and best wishes in finding the right light for your own photographs.