8 Tips to jump-start​ you on your photography Journey

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

Here’s a common story: one day you become enthusiastic about photography, and find yourself jumping at every opportunity to take photos and to improve your work. You keep this up for a while, but slowly the enthusiasm you once had starts to fade. You start feeling like you’ve stagnated in your growth, and that you’re just doing the same old thing, over and over again.

How can you rekindle the passion you once had for photography? If you haven’t hit the wall yet, how can you avoid running into it?

Here are 8 simple tips for keeping yourself motivated in photography:

1. Carry Your Camera at All Times

You’ve probably heard this before, but nothing could help you more. Have at least one camera with you at every waking moment so that whenever you feel inspired or see a photo opportunity you’ll be ready to photograph.

This tip is much easier these days with how ubiquitous camera phones have gotten, but it helps to carry something that will give you more flexibility in what and how you shoot.

Also, make sure ‘everywhere’ really means everywhere. This means taking your camera along to the dentist’s office, the grocery store, or even a short car ride. Seeing the perfect photo opportunity but not having a camera with you is a horrible feeling.

2. Start Your Own 365 Project

You’ve probably heard of it or seen it by now, but Project 365 is a term coined by Amit and Kara over at Photojojo.

Basically, it involves taking one or more photographs per day, every day of the year. The benefits of this are two-fold:

  1. At the end of the year, you’ll have a photographic documentation from every single day that year. What better way to remember your days than through pictures?

  2. After 365 days of photography, you will have grown in ways you never would have imagined in the beginning, and will have tried countless new things that helped you learn and improve.

3. Get Critiqued

Receiving feedback from other photographers can help to both encourage you, and open your eyes to ways you can improve or approach things differently.

I took two photography classes while I was an undergrad at Cal, and one of the main things I learned from them was the value of listening to what other photographers have to say about your work. After each assignment or phase of our projects, we would have in-class critiques where we spent five minutes on each students’ work. These short but meaningful times were instrumental in helping each of us broaden our horizons and improve our craft.

If you don’t have the opportunity to take part in a class or club, thinking about publishing your work on the web and hearing what visitors have to say about your photos. A great way to do this is to publish your work in an online photographic community (there are literally hundreds of places to choose from, google it) which brings us to our next tip:

4. Join a Community

There’s a billion different services on the web that allow you to both store your photographs and share them with family, friends, and random strangers from around the world.

Pick one you like, and dive into the community. Build relationships with other people whose work you respect, and give them the type of feedback you’d like them to give you. These other photographers can both inspire you through their work and educate you with their critique.

5. Give Yourself Assignments

A great way to broaden your horizons is to narrow your focus.

Set a goal or pick a theme, and stick to it. For example, you could decide to shoot only shadows or reflections, and walk around your neighborhood with that goal in mind. You’ll probably notice many more shadows and reflections when you’re actively looking for them.

Can you tell what my theme was for the following series of photographs?

I was walking around the house looking for things that were in sets of certain numbers, increasing the number by one after finding each one. One thermostat, two stuffed animals, three post-it notes, four legs of a chair, etc…

Here are some other examples of assignments you could try:

  • Patterns and textures

  • Unconventional angles

  • Creative framing

  • Choose an object that you find everywhere (i.e. fire hydrants, bicycles, doorknobs)

  • Portraits (could be family, friends, or even complete strangers on the street)

If you want a completely original idea, try to think of something you’ve never seen in a photograph, or some way of taking pictures that has never occurred to you before.

6. Change Your Location

If you find yourself in the same places day after day, maybe what you need is a change of scenery. This could be something as simple as taking a different path to work or school. Finding yourself indoors all the time? Go out and take a photo walk.

Traveling is another way to change your location, and a surefire way to make your photos more interesting. Take a vacation, bring your camera, and keep your eyes open.

7. Learn Something New

If you feel like you haven’t improved in your technique or post-processing skills in a long time, then it’s probably time to learn something new. If you really know all there is to know about photography, then wow… maybe it really is time for you to take a break. For the rest of us, there’s always something to learn or improve on.

Figure out something you don’t know, and learn it!

This could be as basic as a button or setting on your camera. Do you know every little feature your camera has to offer? Have you explored all the menus? When’s the last time you took a look at the instruction manual? Take a look, and you might come across some fundamental camera feature that you’ve been ignorant of all this time!

If you’ve mastered the basics of photography and know your camera like the back of your hand, then perhaps it’s time to dive deeper into the technical aspects of photography. Cambridge in Color has an awesome set of tutorials that can help you really understand all the terms you commonly throw around but don’t know the boring details of. But, If you’re looking for a regular stream of interesting photo links, start following langansel on Instagram. We find all sorts of neat things to inspire and educate you, and post the links every few hours via Twitter.

8. Experiment

In addition to learning new things, you should also be trying new things. Experiment.

For example maybe try to Constrain yourself to just ONE fixed lens and shoot with ONLY that lens for a week. (If your lens is a zoom lens, pick a particular zoom length and stick to it; don’t zoom in or out). Repeat next week with a different lens/zoom length. Or, (if your feeling really awesome, which you are) maybe try using some of the automatic modes to capture amazing photos. ya never know, it could be a smash hit.

Hope that Motivates you ;)

I hope you found (or will one day find) these tips helpful. If you have anything to add, feel free to share it with us in the comments! If you think anyone else can use this knowledge, then don't forget to share it. If you're interested in other photography Tips, Tricks, and photo Inspiration, then check out the links below:

> Camera 101: Understanding the basics to master your camera

> 9 ways to capture beautiful portraits

> 20 MOTIVATING QUOTES from Inspiring photographers

>8 Tips to Jumpstart you on your photography Journey

Till Next time,

Dallin Spencer

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