To take great pictures, you need the right gear, technical knowledge, and the proper amount of practice. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur photographer, improving your skills calls for performing some frequent exercises that will fuel your creative thinking and lead you towards becoming a better photographer overall.
Photography is an art form. Practicing is the best way to drastically improve your skills and take better photos over time. However, it’s hard to constantly stay inspired; oftentimes even the best photographers can experience a lack of interesting ideas. In order for you to refine and improve your photography skills, we’ve created a list of the 10 best exercises to practice daily that will make you a better photographer.
Our recommendation is for you to choose one of the following exercises, do it daily for one week at a time, and then proceed to the next one. So pick an exercise, take your camera, and start shooting!
Recreate Your Favorite Images
Being a photographer yourself, you probably have some already established photographers that you really look up to. Choose your seven favorite photos that you’ve been admiring since you first wanted to become a photographer. Try to recreate one for each day of the week. This exercise’s purpose is to take you into the mind of the esteemed photographers of your choice by analyzing each photo before trying to recreate it.
What’s going on in the photo and what do you think the story is behind it? Why do you think the photographer chose that particular subject or that particular setting? What should you do in order to capture the essence of the photo? These are all relevant questions that will help you think in different ways while pushing you out of your comfort zone.
Shoot Moving Objects
Expressing a sense of motion in a still photograph is a vital skill that every photographer should perfect. Capturing motion can result in fascinating photographs. It will also prepare you to shoot for settings such as sports events, weddings, and other happenings where motion is a common occurrence. However, conveying motion in your photographs takes skill, and in order for you to acquire this ability, you need to practice.
You can get started by shooting one moving object every day for a week. It could be dogs running and playing in the park, a moving car or a train, birds flying in the air, or people dancing. This will teach you how to use shutter speeds — so feel free to play around with shutter speeds to eventually lock down a sharper focus on your main subject.
Create a Daily Photo Challenge
Do you use some kind of a social media platform right? Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, or some other network, choose a theme that relates to your photography style. Create a unique hashtag that you’ll use when posting your photos.
Some examples of “themes” for this challenge could include taking photos of blue objects, round-shaped objects, reflections, animals, or food. This will motivate you to shoot every day and it will also teach you discipline. It can last for a whole week or for the entire month. You can include some of your photographer friends to join you which will only double the fun!
Carry a Subject With You
This is a great exercise to do if you ever run out of ideas of things to shoot. It is also great practice for shooting small or miniature objects. The idea is to choose a small, portable object and carry it with you for a week or a month. The object can be a small statue of a cat, a doll, or a toy. It can be any quirky little thing that can fit into your pocket or your bag.
Be creative and shoot the object of your choosing in different settings and from different angles. This will teach you how to use the macro mode on your camera and to shoot within a few inches away from your tiny subject. You will also practice how to shoot a small object from a distance and incorporate it in the frame so that it’s still your photos’ main subject.
The point of this exercise is to forget the object and focus on its texture instead. This will teach you how to shoot from up close, use focus, and capture textures while making them the main subjects of your photos. Simply find objects with interesting textures like different clothing fabrics, wood, or brick walls, and experiment with symmetry and different angles.
Go on a Photo Walk
Photo walks can be a great source of inspiration, as well as a great creativity exercise. You’ll have total freedom of what to shoot with one tiny but important restriction. You can only take one photo every 5 or 10 minutes, depending on how long your walk. Whether you take a walk in nature or in the city, the point is to be aware of your surroundings. Really think about what you want to take a photo of instead of just taking photos of everything that comes your way. This will teach you to think intentionally about what to shoot. Put on your most comfortable clothing and shoes, grab a snack and a bottle of water, and don’t forget to take your camera!
Create a Shooting Game
This is a fun exercise that can be full of surprises. If you do it for 7 days, take 7 or more pieces of paper on each adventure and write down different objects, themes, or abstract things. Some examples could include bicycles, femininity, curves, couples, umbrellas, patterns, smiles, cats, whatever you can think of.
The point of this exercise is to randomly choose your subject before you go out and find it in its natural habitat. Be creative, use your imagination, and you could take some really unique photos that you never imagined creating.
Watch Tutorials on YouTube
YouTube is a very useful platform when it comes to improving one’s photography skills. You can learn many useful tips, watch tutorials, and of course, draw inspiration. Expanding your knowledge when it comes to photography can only bring you one step closer to becoming a better photographer. Watch at least one video every day. You will improve your skills and gain more knowledge about this activity you love to do so much.
Shoot Objects with Common Characteristics
Every day, take between 50 to 100 photos of objects with common characteristics or attributes. Some characteristics you can look for could include the purpose they serve, color, shape, texture, or material.
One day you can photograph objects that are predominantly yellow. The next day you can shoot things that are used to help people, like glasses for example. The idea is to find interesting pictures hiding inside “everyday objects”. This will boost your imagination and creativity while challenging you to shoot objects you never thought of shooting before.
Experiment With Lighting
Knowing how to use light to your advantage while shooting is an essential skill that is learned mostly through practice. One obvious yet efficient way to practice this is to take as many photos as you can every day but under different lighting. Early morning, midday afternoon, or early evening outside shots. Consider a room with classic lighting or with candlelight, window shots, silhouettes; the possibilities are endless. Select the types of lighting available to you and practice your skills by experimenting with different lighting techniques. Seeing and comparing your photos will show you your mistakes. You can learn what needs to be changed for you to take better pictures in the future.
Becoming a better photographer is only possible through making mistakes. The only way to make mistakes is through practice. This is why practice is essential if you want to improve your photography skills. All of these exercises are designed to help you do just that. So, find your camera, choose an exercise, and start shooting!
Jen Loong is the founder of WanderSnap – a service platform connecting families, businesses, and travelers with local creatives to capture everyday photos, videos, and moments across over 45 different cities. Their mission is to help make creative jobs accessible to people all over the world.