I love photography. I may not be a professional, but I love taking photos, seeing myself improve, and sharing some of my adventures with the world around me, and I am constantly on the hunt for resources and information on how to be a better photographer or how to improve my craft as a hobbyist.
Here I’ll be referencing a few resources that have helped me take better creative control of my photography, rather than discuss the minutiae of what goes into actually taking better photos. These are the types of resources that will go into depth about all of that and which I think will prove helpful in your journey.
This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but only what I have used and found helpful in my quest to improve my photography.
CreativeLive.com is one of the best free resources out there for aspiring photographers and creative professionals. Every day they broadcast educational programs live (or replay) on the subject of photography, post-processing, video, music, and much more on a variety of subjects like money, travel hacking, business, and beyond. While they cover a wide variety of subject, their main focus is how to be a better photographer.
I love their live broadcasts, but I also had the opportunity to attend their annual Photo Week while in Seattle as an audience member for eight hours of in-depth classes for six straight days (!!), which definitely gave me the fundamentals on how to improve my craft, particularly since we covered all aspects of photography from food, portraits, nature, editing, and more.
It was an amazing insight into the world of photography from a variety of perspectives — landscape photography, wedding photography, business aspects, and yes, even to Instagram.
The Great Courses
The Great Courses, aka the Teaching Company, offers a tremendous variety of courses (including amazing university level academic courses which make for great things to listen to on road trips) including some video courses like their Fundamentals of Photography course, which I found to be insightful.
It is perfect for a resource that you can work through at your own leisure while at home, cover composition, editing, exposure, mastering manual mode, and much more.
Lynda.com is the other great online resource that offers a plethora of video courses on all manner of photography.
I loved their courses on Intimate Landscape Photography, Enhancing a Landscape Photo with Lightroom, and their Foundations of Photography Composition courses.
You could spend a lifetime watching courses, of course, so the point isn’t to endless explore courses, but to a watch a bit when you need it and then put it into practice. Then maybe pick up another one a little later on your journey.
On Buying Photography Courses
I’m kind of outspoken about consumerism and avoiding buying things needlessly, but I will never skimp on buying information and educating myself. It is important to invest in yourself by purchasing books, courses, or education in general.
Of course, one can figure things out through trial and error, but if it is important to you and you have the means financially, you can accelerate your learning curve to becoming a better photographer.
I’ve found a lot of inspiration from the works of Galen Rowell and his beautiful photography in his books like Mountain Light.
Also if you are ever in the Eastern Sierra, you should definitely stop and visit his gallery in person in Bishop, California.
I’ve also taken short seminars relating to the climbing photography niche which I found extremely beneficial, particularly a great seminar at Red Rock Rendezvous in Las Vegas.
The key, I think, is to be like a sponge and soak up everything you can from whatever sources you can get your hands on. You can learn from wedding photography professionals or product photographers, it’s all part of the craft and it all applies in your journey in some way, shape, or form, although you’ll develop a preference for certain types of photography over others.
Do Interesting Things
This should go without saying but you’ll become a much better photographer if you’re out there doing cool stuff, rather than work, work, work and then sitting on the couch to watch Seinfeld reruns in the evening.
The more you get out there and do interesting things, the easier it is to see and find incredible places that will inspire you and your photographic eye. It will compel you to take thousands and thousands of photos, which is ultimately what it takes to become a better photographer.
If you can focus your life around adventure and travel, you’re sure to generate compelling photographs on a day-to-day basis. If your life is normally a little more mundane, then you may want to consider forcing yourself into out of the box situations and trying to craft beautiful photos from them. It is easy to take a beautiful picture of a beautiful natural landscape, but much harder to take a beautiful, creative photo of a gritty urban environment.
Take Lots of Photos (and Share Them)
Really the best thing to do is take lots of photos, all the time, and then share your best shots on social media via Instagram or Facebook. That way you will start to get real life feedback from your friends and followers over time about what really resonates with them.
There are no real rules about how often you can post on Instagram, but I try and post no more than once per day, as I personally find it can be kind of annoying to check my feed and see a flood of similar photos from the same person who just returned from a trip.
My rule is to post regularly, post only my best photos, and talk about what I’m doing lately in my travels. Tell a story and connect with your readers, the most popular Instagram accounts use it sparingly (at most a few times per day, spread out) and use it in a sort of micro-blogging format.
I’d love for you to give me a follow on Instagram!
For me, it also helps me reach my readers with more regular updates and fills in gaps that I don’t ever really address in my blog, while also being able to push out other content to my Facebook and Twitter account. So there you have it, if you’re wondering how to be a better photographer, I don’t think you can go wrong with some of these incredible courses and resources. I also quite enjoy going to photography discussions with professionals when I attend various conferences or workshops in the travel industry.
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