plus specific actions you can take today
Next year this time, when you look back on the journey you have taken improving your photography, how much success do you anticipate? Just like other areas of your life, you have to plan deliberately to make significant progress. Here are 10 ways you can plan to improve with specific actions you can begin today.
Take more pictures.
You knew this one was coming. You have to take more pictures -- daily or weekly -- if you plan to get better. Make the commitment to get the camera out of your bag and into your hand. Go find something or someone to photograph...as much as possible.
Action -- Begin a Project 356 or Project 52. That provides both a forcing function and accountability to get you started and keep you going.
For inspiration, read Lisa Bettany's post:
Deliberate practice on techniques.
Deliberate practice says you identify skills where you are weak and work on them specifically.
Action -- Make a list of the skills where you feel least confident. Pick a day to work on those skills regularly. Check them off. Rinse and repeat.
Publish your work.
Get your best work off your computer. What’s the point of making great images and burying them on your computer hard drive?
Action -- Stake a claim to some real estate where you can show the world, your world, as you see it. How? Establish a blog. Create a gallery on Flickr. Use an app like Instagram or Google Plus.
Get constructive feedback
Get out of your own head and seek advice from someone who is an expert. Forget the haters or the glib suck ups online. You need specific, constructive advice on what you do well and your opportunities to improve.
Action -- Ask someone to give you feedback. Organizations like FotoDC provide professional critiques or Photoworks provides critiques over bagels. Join a camera club that offers professional critiques. Photography professional associations also provide that service as a membership benefit.
Read my post How to give and receive photo critiques for more ideas.
Learn your tools
Get to know your camera inside and out. There is no substitute for knowing exactly what your camera will do and the best and fastest way to get there.
Action -- Read your camera manual or buy an instructional DVD on your camera model.
Read my post 8 things you should learn about your camera
Start a photo project
Use your interests or passion to keep motivated. Photo projects are a great tool to keep you motivated.
Action -- Create a photo project. Join the Google + Photo Projects 2013 community.
Commit to formal learning
There is art and science in photography. To get better, you need to learn the rules and techniques. It’s best to have some formal learning -- online tutorials, blogs & podcasts, workshops & photo tours, classes and academic degrees. What’s your learning style? Find your best option.
Action -- Find three classes to take this year that advance your learning. There’s a bonus if you have the ability to make friends or network in the process.
Develop your own style
As you begin to focus, your style should start to evolve. Your style can be defined by your subjects; shooting style or technique; look and feel of the final image,; or format. Being a niche photographer allows you to go mile deep and inch wide, rather than vice versa.
Action -- Take an inventory of the work you like best. What kind of photography do your enjoy most? Where do the two intersect? How might you work on going deeper with that?
Find a mentor or accountability partner
A mentor can help you identify your weaknesses and plot a good course for improvement. An accountability partner kicks your butt when you don’t follow through. You know which one you need most. Maybe both.
Action -- Who do you know in your network who might be able to provide one or both of those roles. Ask him or her. Be very specific about your expectations when you ask. If someone is outside your network, arrange a way to get to know them and establish a relationship.
Join a community/Have fun
I hate lists that end with “have fun.” They always feel cheesy to me, but I can’t deny the usefulness here. You can work through this list in such intense fashion that you frustrate yourself. You aren’t where you want to be, and you focus like a laser on that fact. Why did you get into photography? Remember to keep that focus...so you can keep up your intensity. Join a Meetup group or some community of kindred spirits who can also help you enjoy the journey.
Action -- Take Meetups or photo walks. Join contests. Get involved in photo communities.
Improve with the Photo Coaching Club
Join my Photo Coaching Club to improve your photography using many of these principles. This photo community based approach is designed to help you learn the basics, work on them deliberately, get constructive feedback, and continue improving.