There are easier and less expensive ways to improve your photography than shopping for more gear. Sometimes you just need to remember to shoot more, see more, and speak more.
The Craft of Photography
For many beginning photographers, including myself, it is easy to get caught up with the technical side of photography. By technical I don't mean aperture and shutter speed, but rather the gear that goes along with digital photography. We often find ourselves reading about the sharpness of lenses instead of techniques for capturing great images. It seems many digital photographers are also tech enthusiasts which makes us vulnerable to obsessing as much about what we shoot with as what we are shooting.
Every once in awhile, it's important to take a step back and remember that photography is a craft. One that requires hours of hard work and dedication in order to improve. To that end, I want to suggest three simple things you can do to improve your photography.
Perhaps the best way to get better at making pictures is to simply go and shoot more. Instead of spending time worrying about resolution, lens sharpness, and high ISO capabilities, take the camera you have out and start shooting. Photograph anything and everything that catches your eye.
As you continue to make more and more images, you will notice yourself being drawn to certain subjects and you will learn what compositions work. Maybe you will find that you mainly like photographing landscapes or flowers. Or maybe you are only drawn to portraits or street photography. Whatever the case, the more you shoot, the more you will learn about your photographic style and the craft of photography in general.
Another way to improve your photography is to see more images. Look at photographs in books, online, and in galleries. The more conscious you become about the images all around you, the more you will notice what type of photographs you like best. You may find yourself being drawn to the beautiful black and white landscapes created by Ansel Adams or the captivating portraits by Richard Avedon.
My favorite photography books tend to be ones where the artists not only share their work but their take on photography and the style and techniques they use to create their imagery. Two of the photographers and authors that come to mind are David Duchemin and Bryan Peterson. Both are amazing photographers but their books also teach and inspire.
Something you may not think of when it comes to photography is the need to speak more. However, it can be just as important as shooting or seeing photographs. I find a good way to talk more about the craft of photography is to enroll in an art or photography course or workshop. Speak to fellow photographers and teachers about their experiences and share your own.
Another part of speaking more is to seek honest critiques about your work. If you really want to improve, you need to look for opinions of those that have been there. Look for mentors whose work you admire and ask them to provide you with honest critiques of your work. As more and more online photo communities become available, this is becoming easier and easier. One word of caution however, there are many out there that simply enjoy lashing out at others to make themselves feel better. So be careful about who you ask for a critique and always take critiques with a grain of salt. Do not be discouraged by what others tell you, simply learn from their words. In the end, we are all striving to get better and we were all beginning photographers at one point.