Let’s face it: it takes time to master any skill. Photography is no different. Yes, it’s more likely that you get a nice shot after a one-day photography workshop than to learn an advanced song on the guitar in the same time period but we all get lucky now and then.
It’s not uncommon to become frustrated with not seeing a great improvement in your photography during a short period of time. In fact, that’s a frustration often mentioned when asked in our newsletter. So how do you get through this period? How can you stick with it and learn how to master the art of photography?
#1 Don’t give up!
It goes without saying that you can’t give up if you want to improve. Yes, you’re going to have periods of doubt, frustration, heck even anger! Trust me, I know how frustrating it is to come home from an amazing trip without capturing a single image that you’re happy with. Don’t worry – it’s completely normal.
If you give up, you’ll never get any better. Instead, take those periods of frustration and turn them into a lesson. Take a moment to reflect why you’re not happy with the images you’ve captured. What could make them better? And no… “Because I suck” is not a valid answer!
#2 Find the balance between play and practice
Learning the fundamentals of landscape photography (such as shutter speed, aperture, iso and composition) is an important step to becoming a better photographer but it’s equally important to play around and have fun.
Work on finding a balance between play and practice. I strongly recommend spending half your time in the field focusing on the settings and doing things “technically correct”, and the rest playing with your camera.
Don’t worry too much what’s in front of the lens. You’ll soon see that the practice and play merge together and that you’re applying the correct settings without any effort, even when playing around.
When I decided to get better at photography I would photograph whatever I could. For a long period I would take pictures of everything, either it was a river in broad daylight or experimental self portraits at home. All of this play eventually made me more understanding of what it takes to create a good image and over time the play time images became both “technically correct” and more visually pleasing.
#3 Don’t overthink
Yes, understanding the theory is important but when you’re just getting started it’s even more important to become comfortable using your camera. The best way to do this is, surprise surprise, by being outside using it. Bring the camera with you when you go for a walk and see what happens when you change the settings.
Overthinking limit both your creativity and motivation, especially in the early stages.
#4 Don’t compare with the best
We all want to get better quickly but let’s face it; mastering a skill takes time. The photographers that you admire have most likely done it for many years, perhaps even decades, so don’t get too obsessed with comparing your images to theirs. Use their imagery as inspiration and take the time to study them and figure out how you can apply their techniques to your own images.
Recommended reading: The Importance of Studying Other Photographers
Don’t expect your images to be of the same quality as someone who’s done it professionally for years. You don’t expect to sound like Jimmy Hendrix one month after picking up the guitar for the first time, right? It takes time to master a craft; learn to love the process!
#5 Don’t be afraid to leave the camera behind
What? Have I completely lost my mind? How on earth can you become a better landscape photographer by leaving the camera behind? This must be a joke.
No. Spending time in nature without a camera can be an important part of growing your creativity. Either it’s for posting on social media or for other reasons, always carrying a camera can lead to feeling the pressure of capturing something. This is a feeling that can be dangerous. Feeling pressured to photograph something is most likely going to kill your creativity and motivation.
I go hiking around the local forests or mountains every week when I leave the camera at home. This gives me time to relax, enjoy the surroundings, connect with nature and perhaps discover a location or two that I can come back to with my camera on another occasion.
Learn everything you need to know about become a better photographer
If you’re serious about taking your photography to the next level I strongly recommend taking a look at our eBook A Comprehensive Introduction to Landscape Photography. This eBook will introduce you to the essentials of landscape photography and teach you everything you need to know about getting closer to becoming the photographer you know you can be.