This new camera won’t make you a better photographer

Let’s face it, we photographers love shiny objects. Especially at the beginning, it’s always tempting to find a new camera, lens, or other tool that we can put in our tool belt that will help us be a better photographer. Unfortunately, this cool new gear won’t really make you a better photographer, but here are a few things that could.

Learn the basics

Learn the basics of photography: exposure, depth of field, choice of lenses, etc. Start with the gear you have and learn about things that stay the same no matter which camera you use. Along with that, learn what makes a good composition. Effective composition is really about taking the world in three dimensions and creating an effective two-dimensional image. If you are new to photography, a good grasp of the fundamentals will make the difference in your photographs.

Learn more about light

If you are a landscape photographer, being able to see and use the best daylight is essential. Study how different types of light can affect the scene. Observe and photograph early in the morning and late at night. Try to backlight the subjects. Try to photograph side-lit objects. Essentially, learn to observe the light. The more you understand what makes a good light and the more you master your camera to capture it, the better your job will be.

Be comfortable with your equipment

You know, that equipment you already have. Find out how to get the most out of it. You might be surprised at what you can produce with the camera you already own. In the end, you might not need that cool new gadget or camera. Or if you get it, you can do more.

Have a return

Find people who can honestly criticize your work and give you advice. These could be instructors from photography workshops and classes or other photographers from photography groups. It might even be fans, but make sure they’re willing to be honest and even direct when needed (hint, probably not your mom).

Learn how to be a good editor

Sift through your images to find your best work, and don’t be afraid to delete items. It’s all part of the learning process. Try to select a bunch of your dozen best shots. It can help you see what your strengths are and what things you can still work on. It can also help you see what you love to photograph beyond the obvious subject.

Try new things

If you’ve been doing it longer, be prepared to experiment. Film something you’ve never filmed before, or experiment with a new location, a different filter, a different time of day, or a whole new subject. Try your hand at night photography. Try a neutral density filter. Just doing something new can often spark new ideas and help us get out of a creative rut. And ultimately, it can help us become better photographers, learn what we love most and what our strengths are.

Study art

Look at the photography you love. And look beyond photography and art in general. Find artists who have developed a style and who have something interesting to say with their art. Drawing inspiration from and understanding the work of other artists can help you become a better yourself.

So while new gear can be great, it’s not really the key to being a better photographer. Fortunately, what can make the biggest difference is something you have with you all the time, no matter what camera or software you have now.

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