As a new photographer, there’s a lot of things you can be spending your time learning, practicing, and mastering. For example, how to take a properly exposed photo in manual mode or how to creatively compose images. That being said, there’s also a lot of things you can be focusing on that won’t have such a positive affect on the quality of your images. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your practice, avoid spending too much time on these most commonly dwelled upon aspects of photography.
It’s easy to blame our gear when our photos just aren’t coming out like we expect them, just like it’s easy to think buying a more expensive, higher quality camera will make our work of higher quality as well. As convenient as it would be, it just doesn’t work that way. The only real way to improve your images is by practicing and mastering the fundamentals of photography.
That’s not to say there won’t be a time in your life when shooting with a nice full frame camera will actually be beneficial, but it’s important to know that shooting on a crop sensor model isn’t hindering your ability to create and compose great photographs–a great photographer will be able to do that regardless of what camera they are using.
Always Following The Rules
First, let me stress the importance of knowing the “rules” of photography and understanding how and why they work–the fundamentals are important! So, learn what the “rules” are, but don’t be afraid to break them! Think of the rules more of a suggestion than something that must be abided to. Sure, the rule of thirds will give you a nice composition about 100% of the time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean using the rule of thirds is the only way to compose a shot, much less the best way. If you see a different way to compose your shot, try it. If you don’t like it, you can take another photo in a different way or, you may end up with a really great and unique image!
Again, the more you know about the rules, the easier it will be to effectively break them! Make sure you dedicate some of your practice time to learning the rules like the golden ratio, symmetry, leading lines, and color theory, just make sure to give yourself a little freedom from them on occasion too.
Like most things, photography has it’s trends that go out of style just as quickly as they came into style. Take selective coloring for example–for a while there it was all the rage to convert an image to black and white, leaving a single object in full color (usually red). I have two big issues with trends. The first one being they have the tendency to “date” a photo (when what you should probably be aiming for is a timeless photo) . Secondly, it’s hard to create an original photo when it’s done in the same style as everyone else is doing it.
Don’t focus too much of your time trying to make the photos you take look like everyone else’s, but instead spend your time strengthening the tried and true fundamentals of photography like composition, lighting, and knowing as much as you can about how your camera works. Spending time learning about technique rather then trends will make you a stronger photographer who doesn’t need to use trends (which can sometimes come off as gimmicky) to make an interesting photo. Instead, dare to be different.