Take better photos in 5 easy steps

Are you taking photos for your blog or business and need or want want to step up your game? Perhaps you can see the standard of photography online rising and know that to drive your business forward, you need to rise with it or be left behind.

Read on for five easy steps broken down for you to improve your photography skills from so-so to pro.

1. REVIEW. Pull out all the photos you have taken in the past three months. Pick your top 10. Pick your worst 10. What are you best at? What could do with the most improvement? You’re going to choose ONE aspect of your photography that most needs improvement. Here are some examples of what that could be:

– Composition
– Colour accuracy
– Posing (if you’re working with people)
– Increasing the variety in your photos
– Styling
– Depth of field

We’re just choosing one aspect so that we avoid overwhelm. With one aspect a month, over the course of a year, you’ll have focused intensely on 12 aspects of your photography – that’s going to SERIOUSLY raise your photography game!

2. SECRET PROJECT: Now you’re going to work on a project on your chosen area and you are NOT going to share this on social media or show your family (and no, not your mother, even if she is your biggest fan). Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive if you want to improve your photos for sharing online but please bear with me. What we’re doing is removing the fear of our photos being judged or being pulled off our learning curve, even by a loving comment by someone who means well. This leaves us free to make mistakes and try new ideas. The only point of this project is your learning. If all your photos from this project end up in your computer’s trash, that’s just fine.

Make the project one that will give you plenty of practice at your chosen skill. Here are some suggestions.

STYING: Find some stylists on Instagram or Pinterest who are doing beautiful, professional work. Even if they are food stylists and you’re working with your Etsy handmade items, you’re going to pick up high quality inspiration and more original ideas than if you simply trawl your competitors. Plan your shoot, your styling props and backgrounds and either order online, go for a shopping trip or look around your home for items you can pull out or make from materials you already own. Do a shoot. Edit it. Repeat every week.

BOREDOM: If you’re bored with your photography, here’s your opportunity to shoot from different angles and try different lenses. Shoot from above, below or the side. Try shooting along a wall or other objects to give you leading lines. Shoot through things – windows, doors, plans – anything that frames either part of all of your subject. Try out a different lens. If you don’t own one, perhaps hire or borrow one from a friend and force yourself to shoot with it. Try shooting your usual subjects in at least 50 different ways. If you always shoot with a narrow depth of field, try shooting with everything in focus (even if you’re screaming ‘that’s part of my signature look’ – no-one is going to see this, we’re just pushing things, so you can have better photography skills and more choices about how to take photos).

LIFESTYLE: Shoot a friend or a stranger a week. Research posing ideas, how to help your subjects relax and the most flattering light. Secret Pinterest boards are a great way to collate useful online articles and reference photos. If you know how to pose people in flattering ways, they are going to thank you. It is a skill you can learn. If you’re working with others, let them know this shoot is an experiment, and as such, none of the photos may make the cut. If they ‘need’ photos from the shoot, then perhaps do a few of those first and then shoot your project.

3. SCHEDULE: Put two blocks of time in your diary each week for the coming month for your project. The first is going to be your shooting time and the other is for your review, learning and planning the next one. Bear in mind your shooting time may need to be during daylight or scheduled to include others. The amount of shooting time is up to you and depends on what you need to learn and your schedule. Ideally it would be at least two hours but could be a whole day. Treat it as you would any meeting: if something else comes up for that time, either refuse because you are busy or reschedule. This time is important for you to develop your skills. For your first shoot, have your equipment ready: camera, lenses, memory cards and any other items together, clean and fully charged.

4. SHOOT: Take at least 250 different photographs in your shoot, working on the skill you want to improve. Chances are, this could feel icky or uncomfortable in some way. That’s okay. It’s also okay if you think you aren’t any good at this. You’re improving. You’re working to make one of your worst things one of your best. And one day soon, you are going to be good at this. All you have to do for now is show up and take photographs – and you can do that.

5. REVIEW (+ REPEAT): Look at your photos. What did you learn? What worked? What were your issues? How could you improve your photography skills further? What would be most useful to you in your learning? Do you need to research or learn new skills online from blog posts or YouTube videos? Plan next week’s shoot or shoots later in the month, aiming to improve your skill further. This feedback is what is going to skyrocket your ability to take gorgeous photos.

And there you have it – a step-by-step guide to improving your photography skills without breaking the bank. I hope this helps you improve so that you can show your products, projects and life on your website, Instagram or blog.