Improve your photography in a year

What goes around comes around
View on Flickr

We’re almost through with 2008. Are you wondering how to improve your photography? Practice regularly.

But how?

My friend, Paul Rouggie, inspired me to write this post because one of his resolutions for 2009 is to get back into photography. Thanks to the help and support of other friends and photographers, I feel much more confident with my photography. Some of these points are probably common knowledge, but still good reminders.

Choose six favorite and six least favorite subjects. To keep yourself interested, alternate months between those.

Subject examples: People, portraits, candid portraits, street photography, nature, landscapes, buildings, macros (close up), black and white, abstract, sports, music (concerts), weddings[1. Don’t be a primary photographer until you’ve assisted another professional!]

Or, just take photos of anything you find interesting. (That’s what I did for 2008.) It’s probably not the best idea, but I realized how much I loved street photography. (By the way, I like Dave Beckerman’s definition of street photography.)

There’s also Flickr Group Roulette, where you can choose if you want to participate in the theme for the day.

Determine a frequency.

You’ll grow a lot if you do take one photo a day. I participated in “2008: A Year in Pictures,” which meant 366 photos because of leap year. Too much, too fast? Publish one/week for 52 Weeks. Take photos whenever you want, but fulfill that requirement.

Edit your photos.

I didn’t post process my photos for a long time. Once I realized that the photographers I admired post processed their photos, I figured I should give it a shot. While no amount of post processing will fix terrible composition or a distracting background, increasing contrast and saturation could turn an average snapshot into something worth printing and framing.

My progression of post processing software: Paint.NET, GIMP, Lightroom and Photoshop

Publish your work.

I’m partial to WordPress. (I have hosting and my own domain name.) If you don’t want to deal with maintenance, WordPress.com hosts blogs for free.  I love Flickr. There’s also Zenfolio (referral code[2. You’ll get $5 off and I’ll receive a $5 credit!]: 8E1-4V5-FH4) or SmugMug.

Join Flickr, along with a corresponding group.

I really think Flickr is the best place learn from others, make new friends, and get awesome feedback[3. Of course, you should also put in the time to reciprocate feedback.]. Find your local group, break the ice, and have fun!

Thanks to Trevor Carpenter with Photowalking.org, I wouldn’t have met Thomas Hawk, Arnold, Brian Auer, and Noel Kleinman.

Because it needs to be repeated – have fun!

Do you have any suggestions? Don’t be shy – leave comment!

Published by

Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

7 thoughts on “Improve your photography in a year”

  1. Hey Bryan, I agree with Trevor — you’ve really come a long way with your stuff. Your reflections above show that you’re doing some serious thinking on the topic of photography too, which is also key for growth.

    Now we just need to get you going on film on a regular basis! I say you skip 35mm and go right to medium format… way more fun.

    Like

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