Category Archives: Technique

The best way to become a great photographer – Practice

I realised something surprising the other day. Something so surprising that it has taken me over two weeks to get my head round it. Something that lead me to set up a new Flickr group to try and change it.  Too many photographers are lazy. They spend no time to get better, and then sit about moaning that their photos are not what they expect them to be. No thought is given to practice.

I can’t blame them though! I had such a hard time getting my head round this because I was firmly in the lazy group. As a competitive dancer, and entrepreneur I’m used to living with the daily idea that getting better at anything involves practice. Yet the concept of practicing my photography never even occurred to me.

Then I listened to this podcast, in which Roberto Valenzuela talks about practicing. Setting up fruit at home, picking up his camera, and spending just 20 minutes a week playing with one aspect of photography. It really is such an amazingly simple idea. I’m ashamed to admit that it has never, ever, been part of how I approach photography. It took me just a few minutes to come up with a list of ideas, each one worthy of spending time on:

  • Focus and Recompose: How fast can you focus, and then recompose the photo? Can you do it fast enough that the scene hasn’t changed?
  • Timing: Can you focus the camera on something moving fast (a car will do) and take a photo at the exact moment it is where you want it, or doing what you want
  • Composing for your subject: Can you pick a subject, and choose where to stand to make it clear what your subject is?
  • Simplifying: Can you set up a photo so that there are no distracting elements?
  • Flash: Can you take a photo where the flash effects the lighting in a way you choose?
There are hundres more ideas that can each form the basis for a practice session. I encourage you to get out your camera, and head out to your local park, street, or even your living room, and play about. Not for the goal of making a good photos, but purely for the aim of improving your skill. Then sign up to the Photographic Practice group, and share your experiments, and see what other photographers are practicing.