Wednesday, January 02, 2008

12 Ways to Really Improve Your Photography for 2008

1. Read your camera's manual from cover to cover - and study it. So many photographers have only "an inkling" of the full functionality of their camera's capabilities.
2. Do the same for your Flash manual - read it cover to cover, and then again a few more times. Today's flash units are crammed full of features that can bring magic to your images - if we would just read the manual.
3. Experiment and play with the new found features you have just discovered in the two manuals. You may not use all the features, but I promise you will find some real gems that you will be glad you discovered.
4. Plan to read at least one good book on the subject in 2008. Shutterbug Magazine recently published their list of best photography books for 2007. Here is the best book link right here. Select one of them for starters.
5. Start a "Brain Trust" among your fellow friends and shooters. This is just a small group of like minded people who love photography, and here is the important word - motivated - on improving their photography skills. Plan to get together with your "Brain Trust" occasionally for discussions on photography, camera technique, lighting, etc. Pick a subject the challenge and inspire each other to become better photographers for 2008.
Footnote: Three of my photo friends, Kent, Mark, Don and myself did this over 25 years ago. Each of us own and operate four of the leading studios in our market areas and still continue to motivate, challenge, share and inspire each other today.
6. Plan to shoot outside your zone a few times this year. For instance, if you are a "people photographer", create a project for yourself that that does not include people. Here in Cincinnati, Ohio, we have some wonderful old architecture I see in the old buildings around downtown. I always thought it would be cool to take photographs of those building from the 2nd story up, thus revealing the true older character of the building without it's current facade. You know what, let's plan on this as a "2008 challenge" once we get through the winter months.
7. Start a blog to post and discuss your favorite images. Yes, everyone has something to offer. But more importantly, this discipline of putting your thoughts into words gives you a better insight into your own thought processes - hence more creative juices flowing. Keep it simple in the beginning. Blogger is about the easiest way to get started.
8. And speaking of blogs, use a news reader like Google Reader to aggregate your favorite sites and visit them regularly for informative content. I currently scan about 80 sites - not everyday, of course, but when I find a good one, I add it to my reader. It's nice to go back and read some of those little gems now and then.
9. Head over to Flickr, Picasa, and any number of sites out there and search for your favorite photographic subject. I just did a quick search on wedding photography over at Flickr and I'm looking at some great images right here.
10. Stay inspired! Remember, a sleepy mind is an uncreative mind, staying inspired is the mental jogging our brain needs to stay fit. Lifehacker gives you ten solid methods for staying inspired right here - a must read.
11. Enter print competitions. I did this with my "Brain Trust" buddies I talked about earlier. We all entered the Professional Photographers of America annual state, regional and national competitions. It was great fun to compete with each other and it became a wonderful way to add "rocket fuel" to our image improvement as photographers. See the story below for more information on photography competitions.
12. And, finally, read DigitalProTalk everyday for the latest, greatest cool news, lighting, camera, Photoshop, and a "giggle" now and then. ;~)


  1. I highly recommend combining tip 8 and tip 9. Flickr makes so many custom RSS feeds available that it provides an easy way to view images in one place.

    I use Vienna on OSX to subscribe to RSS feeds of my Flickr contacts, favourite groups and any comments left on my shots. It's a great way to view some great images with almost zero effort.

    I believe searches can also be subscribed to as live feeds.

  2. David, I am so hooked on your blog. Sometimes I put off reading it because you always link to other things I MUST read. No fluff here, all useful stuff. These are great and useful suggestions for the new year.

    You are so inspiring because besides being a good photographer and businessman (2 basics for staying in business), you are an amazing techy ( I follow your tutorials- no wonder! read your backround recently!) and ALSO tuned into the art and the history of photography. I have to say it is rare for one person to be so in touch in in all these areas. Many focus on one or a few, but coming here I am constantly exposed to ALL.

    I think it was you that mentioned Snowflake Bentley. I shared post with illustrator friend of mine, ordered the beautiful Caldecott Medal children's book and just got it and read it to my 4 1/2 year old son last night. So inspiring, and reminded me what I loved about photography in the beginning, shooting things that most people don't see!

    Keep up the great blog, I look forward to reading it. It's always work for me, but that's what makes me grow! :-)

  3. Thanks for the tips, very informative, and I have yet to do a few of those, so I will certainly put them at top priority. :)

  4. thanks david for that, very inspirational post - it made me really think to start a blog. i hope i have something to offer.