3 Clever Ways to Improve Your Photography
Hi! I’m Lauren of Lauren Weeks Photography, and I’ve been doing photography for a little over three years now. Let me preface this article by stating that I am certainly no expert in the field of photography. I have a lot to learn in several areas and there are many other more successful and worthy photographers who could write about ways to improve photography. This article is simply a reflection on what I have found that consistently works best for me. If you’re reading this article, then you’re like me – constantly looking for new ways to hone your skill set, become more adept in the field of photography, and simply grow artistically and professionally. Below are the three ways that I personally feel has helped me improve.
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First, I find a mentor photographer in my area. Being a Marine wife means I move a lot. Having moved four times in seven years, I’m always on the lookout for a photography mentor who shares the same skill level as me or above. Not only will this help you learn new skills, you’ll also be able to get advice, collaborate, and give and get referrals. As an added bonus, I find that these mentorships often become great friendships with like-minded individuals that I never would have met if it weren’t for our love for photography. If you can’t find a physical mentor in your area there are several photography groups and forums on social media. Not only is this a great place to get advice and learn industry standards, being a part of a community of something you love is priceless. Any of time of day you can ask questions or post pictures for critique, and you will receive responses from dozens of people of all skill levels, from all backgrounds. While I’m sure many people benefit from the paid subscription communities, the online groups have been so much more beneficial to me.
Second, I take an online editing class at least once a year. Whether it’s learning Photoshop, Illustrator, or trying to learn a different style of editing, I’m always trying to NOT stay stagnant in my editing skills. While YouTube is an amazing, free tool for looking up certain tutorials that I may need here and there, actually paying for a class holds me accountable to consistently learn and use my new skills. Furthermore, being that we move so much, I constantly feel like I need to have my work stand out since I’m always the new photographer in town. Taking the online editing class at least once a year has either enhanced my images, making me more competitive in my area, or made my workflow easier. Finding and choosing an editing course hasn’t been difficult either. Most of my education involves classes offered through community colleges in the area or simply registering for an online editing course with a photographer I admire and follow on social media. For example, last year I took Jen Carver’s online editing course, and this year I’ve promised myself that I will take an editing course from one of my favorite photographers, Meg Bitton.
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Lastly, whenever I feel the pull of needing to do something different or finding myself getting stressed and burnt out, I plan a creative shoot. I love my clients and capturing images that they love, but I also need to use my creative side and shoot what I love. Sometimes you simply need to grab a model, throw a flower head band and lace cardigan on her, and take pictures in a nearby field. This is what I recently did with an aspiring model and the images from this shoot are some of my favorite to date. I constantly get emails from people wanting similar images of themselves or their family in the same field. I was able to take pictures of a concept that inspired me and was able to try my hand at a different type of editing. Many don’t know that that shoot recharged me and my love for photography at a time when I was feeling stuck in a lot of areas in my life.
Everything I do to improve myself photography wise falls into those three realms. I hope this information has been helpful to someone out there! Leave a comment below letting us know your tried-and-true method for improving your photography!
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Jennifer O'Neill Williams says
Thank you for the wonderful tips. How do you go about finding a mentor in your area? How do you approach them?
I know from experience from mentoring (I offer online and in person) that just find that photographer that inspires you…that you see has a passion for their work and just dive in and ask them!!!