Improve your photos with these 7 non-photography tips

First published:
October 13, 2022
February 6, 2024

Improve your photos with these 7 non-photography tips

First published:
October 13, 2022
February 6, 2024

Photographer in the middle of forest in winter time by Dan Mirica

Are you looking to improve your photography? Here are some non-photography tips that might help improve your photos

I’m sure, you have read lots of photography tips over the years with the aim of improving your photos. But you may not realise that there are also some other things that you can do that can also help improve your work. So here are some non-photography tips which may just make a difference to your output.

1 Spend more time researching

Studio photographer. Photo by Emanuele Ravecca - f/2.8 | ISO 160 | 1/800s

By far and away my biggest advice to anyone wanting to improve their photography is to spend more time before any shoot researching and planning. Whether it’s a portrait shoot or if you are photographing a landscape, you should ideally be going into a shoot knowing roughly the shots you are going to end up with. For example, if you are taking portraits you may want to think about lighting, backdrop and even the expression on your model’s face.

This extends to outdoor shoots as well. For example, if you are photographing landscapes, you will need to know the direction of the light and things like sunrise or sunset times. Basically, the more you know and plan the better your chances will be of capturing a great photo.

2 Scout without your camera

The bored photographer. Photo by Richard Anderson - f/8 | ISO 250 | 1/320s

As a photographer, this might seem like a strange thing to say, but often scouting a location without your camera first can really help you get a better idea of how to photograph it. This is a good next step after the tip above about doing your research. The reason that scouting is a good idea is that when any of us turn up at a location, we often immediately raise our cameras and start taking photos. If you do not have your camera, you will be forced to spend more time examining the scene to try and get a feel for the best angles, and compositions and also how to utilise the light effectively. This will make you think much more about your shot than if you were there with your camera.

Clearly, this may not always be possible if you are limited in time. But for example, if you find yourself unable to shoot because of bad weather, this is a great way to use your time.

3 Build up your confidence

Photographer at the sunrise. Photo by Jaromir Chalabala - f/8 | ISO 100 | 1/160s

Confidence is a huge thing in any profession or hobby. Photography is no different. The more confident you are the better your chances will be of capturing great photos. The way to build that confidence will usually depend on you and your experience as a photographer. You will make mistakes, learn from them, and become more confident next time you are faced with that same scenario.

But you can also actively try to improve your confidence. For example, if you are shy about photographing strangers, start by simply gaining the confidence to speak to people you don’t know. This could be as simple as striking a conversation with someone when you are sitting on a bench in the park. Or if you lack self-belief about your work, sit down with a professional photographer and ask them to critique your work. Giving you constructive criticism or even praise will help you gain more confidence.

4 Seek inspiration from many sources

Eugene Delacroix. Photo by Michel Spingler - f/5.6 | ISO 800 | 1/15s

Most photographers will follow other photographers whose work they admire. There is nothing wrong with that and something that I always encourage. But it is also important to take inspiration from other sources. For example one of my favourite places to visit for inspiration is the National Gallery in London. Looking at some of the paintings of the old masters really motivates me to get out there and shoot. The part of the painting that I really focus on is how the artist shows light within the painting. Photography is after all just a digital version of “painting with light”.

The point is that inspiration can come in a form. For example, music, theatre, movies and even documentaries can all function as an inspiration for all of us. So always make sure that you keep yourself open to what is around you.

5 Get off the beaten path

The Ghost City. Photo by sanadalahlafi - f/4 | ISO 100 | 1/40s

This might be one of the most cliched sayings, but it is incredibly important in today’s digital world. Most people out there with a camera or smartphone are happy to just tick off their bucket list shots. But what if you actually ignored all of those famous shots and walked somewhere different? You may just end up with a completely different photo.

And getting off the beaten path isn’t just for travel photographers. For example, if you are an architecture photographer, why not go somewhere that is rarely photographed? Not only will you end up with unique photos, but you will likely have fewer crowds to contend with as well.

6 Focus your mindset on getting unique shots

Colour Blocks. Photo by Josem - f/8 | ISO 250 | 1/80s

Capturing unique shots in today’s digital world isn’t easy. Following the tip above by getting off the beaten path may sometimes help. But if you really want to capture unique shots you need to first get out of the mindset of capturing the obvious shot.

Most people will have seen photos of whatever they are going to be photographing. This will naturally sway their vision of the photo. But if you can learn to focus your mind on trying to ignore those influences, you may just find that you can capture unique photos.

In more practical terms, using some of the earlier tips in this article should help. For example, planning and also scouting a location without your camera can help you plan the shot in your head before shooting.

7 Challenge yourself

And another one. Photo by Malcbawn

One of the best ways to improve your work is to constantly learn by challenging yourself with personal projects or even things that you struggle with. And these don’t always have to be specifically photography related.

For example, if you are a food photographer who struggles in setting up a shoot, spend time practising how to style the plate or even the scene. Or if you are a portrait photographer, learn the basics of hair styling and makeup. Or you could even practice writing so that you can offer words as well as photos to potential clients. As a photographer, anything that you learn can become a useful tool in the future.

Author final notes:

So, there you have it, some non-photography-related tips that might just help your photography. The important thing to remember is that in whatever genre of photography you follow, you should never close yourself off to learning and improving. Sometimes, that improvement will come from unexpected sources and actions.
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