7 Simple Ways to Instantly Boost Your Photography Skills

Philip Bates 08-03-2018

The best way to improve your photography skills is to practice. But it’s not the only way.


In fact, there are quite a few things you can do to boost your skills in 10 minutes or less.

Nothing can replace taking lots of photos and learning to self-critique them A Brief Guide To Critiquing Your Own Photos Understanding what works and what doesn’t work in your own photos is the perfect way to improve your photography skills. This guide shows you how and why you should be critiquing your own shots. Read More . But if you only have a few minutes, these seven tasks will help you perfect your craft.

1. Read Your Instruction Manual

simple ways to boost photography skills
Image Credit: Zorah Olivia/Flickr

You have to be a bit suspicious of those folk who read an instruction manual from start to finish just to plug in a Blu-ray player. It’s always boring, right? The writers of these instructions have clearly never heard about the Plain English Campaign How Facebook Is Changing News Journalism for the Better News outlets are considering publishing stories straight to Facebook. It's easy to be cynical. But this change could be a good thing – for readers and journalists. Read More , because these little pamphlets from the underworld are designed to put you to sleep.

But wait! Because there’s one manual that’s worth reading: the one that accompanies your camera.


Seriously, this is essential reading. To get great photos, you have to know your camera.

You likely don’t know what all those buttons are for on your camera. That is, unless you’ve pored over the manual before—and even then, you could probably do with a reminder because it’s rare that a photographer uses all functions on a regular basis.

Knowing everything you can do with your camera doesn’t take long, but it will certainly help in the field. You’ll be better able to adapt to new situations by using the right settings. And that will improve your shots.

2. Learn These Two Rules of Composition

After getting to grips with your camera, you should master composition.


We all have slightly different ideas about what makes a good image: light, angle, subject—these are the things that make your work individual. But there are unifying factors in many fantastic examples of photography.

There are two key techniques you need to know: the Rule of Thirds How to Compose a Photograph: 5 Essential Rules to Follow If you want to get really good at photography, there are some vital rules around image composition that you should consider. Here are five of the most important. Read More and the Golden Ratio Using the Golden Ratio in Photography for Better Composition Do you struggle with photo composition? Here are two techniques based on the Golden Ratio that will drastically improve your shots with little effort on your part. Read More , the latter of which sounds a lot more complicated than it is. In fact, it’s something that you probably do quite often already because you’ll have picked it up from other famous images.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to check these out because they’ll really help when you’re lining up a shot. It’s up to you to decide which technique works best in situ.

Plus, once you know the rules, you can subvert them for your own artistic purposes.


3. Study Artists

Whatever your hobby or profession, it pays to study your peers and the people you look up to. You naturally pick up a lot of tips just from admiring others’ work, whether knowingly analyzing something or subconsciously learning.

That’s why you need to expose yourself to as much art and photography as you can. You can stroll around a museum (which admittedly takes longer than 10 minutes). You can Google well-known professionals in creative fields. Or you can simply take to sharing platforms like Instagram 10 Comic Book Artists to Follow on Instagram Many comic book artists find Instagram's clean layout and ease of use is conducive to their craft. Here's a brief selection of comic artists you need to follow. Read More , Flickr, and Tumblr.

It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re immersing yourself in things you admire.

However, it’s not always about admiration. Look at stuff you don’t like, too. Ask yourself why it elicits that reaction. Why don’t you like it? How can your dislike of an image advance your own photography?


4. Find Photographers on Twitter

On the same lines, you should follow photographers on Twitter. Seek out professionals and amateurs—both will help you improve by osmosis. Seeing other people’s work will inspire you to get out there and produce the very best you can.

Aside from this, they’ll likely share advice, personal struggles, and how they overcome those hurdles. It’s humbling to note that everyone goes through the same difficulties. Looking up to a peer’s portfolio is one thing; recognizing that they have similar issues makes you feel better about the problems you face.

Plus, it’s important to remember that this is a community. Hobbies are fantastic 4 Creative Hobbies That Can Improve Your Life Today It's never too late to take up a new hobby, but life offers so much choice that it can be impossible to choose. Here are five hobbies that could improve your life immediately. Read More , but they shouldn’t be isolating. Being active on social media will mean you’ll develop new friendships and get your work noticed by all the right people!

5. Create a Mood Board

This is all about inspiration. But inspiration isn’t always about looking at pictures you wished you’d taken. It’s also about exploring new themes How to Brainstorm the Right Way With Simple Mood Boards A beautiful mood board is one of the best tools for visual brainstorming. Use this brief guide to convey your ideas or just try solo brainstorming with a collage of inspiring images. Read More .

A mood board is a collage consisting of many different materials that adhere to one subject. You could pick an event, or a place, or a color. It’s an examination of a particular field. This can be created over a few sessions, developing as you see articles, images, and materials in everyday life.

You’ve heard of Picasso’s Blue Period, right? In the early 1900s, the artist created a series of paintings in shades of blue or blue-green. This meant each one felt tinged with sadness—cold and haunted, reflecting Pablo’s depression (possibly after the suicide of his friend and fellow artist, Carlos Casagemas).

A piece is always a reflection of its creator, and a mood board can open up possibilities for your photography.

6. Photograph the Sky

simple ways to boost photography skills
Image Credit: Cliff Cooper/Flickr

If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, you’re likely at home and surrounded by the stuff you see every single day. You probably won’t feel especially inspired. You need something that presents a challenge.

Go outside. That’s the greatest challenge you can hope to find.

The sky changes constantly. It’s one of the things we all share, so finding something new and interesting about it is a special mission. It’s almost testing you to capture its beauty. How you capture its light says a lot about you as a photographer.

And it’s always a great idea to practice shooting the sky because it proves a magnificent backdrop for so many subjects. Photograph a spectacular sky and you’ve got the makings of an eye-catching image already.

7. Check Out Your Old Photos

Over time, you may become complacent. You’ll be content with what you’re doing, but not growing artistically.

This is the perfect time to scroll through some of your older pictures. Revisit photoshoots from a couple of years ago to see what you might’ve done differently and you’ll see an improvement.

This is the case with most things, no matter your hobby or profession. For photographers, the effect is more instantaneous, and you’ll be buoyed to find out that all the time you’ve spent obsessing over angles, ratios, and colors has paid off.

Heck, it’s always the ideal time to revel in some nostalgia!

More Ways to Improve Your Photography Skills

When you’ve got a little bit of free time, it’s tempting to flick through a newspaper or see what’s new on Netflix. But you can advance your skills very simply 18 Creative Photography Ideas for Beginners to Improve Their Skills Coming up with photography ideas can be tough for beginners. These 18 creative ideas will help you find a photography subject in no time! Read More just by taking 10 minutes out of your day.

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  1. Henry S. Winokur
    February 9, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    It's too bad your very first image doesn't even show how to properly **hold** one's camera.

    On point 'n shoots, D/SLRs and larger cameras, the photographer's left hand needs to be underneath the camera with the palm up. Bend the left wrist at as close to 90° as you can get it and allow the lens of your cam to "point out" between the thumb and forefinger, allowing you left hand to wrap around the lens--so you can focus or zoom it--with your index finger and thumb. Bring your left elbow into contact w/ your rib cage on the left side. Grip the right side of the camera with your right hand, wrapping your middle-, ring-, and little-finger around the body and leaving your index finger to operate the shutter and other buttons that may be on the top deck of the camera. Bring your right elbow into the right side of your rib cage. Place your feet so that one is slightly in front of the other and bend your knees. This will provide an extremely stable platform to shoot from, when you hand hold your camera.

  2. Eddie
    March 29, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    these tips just remind me of how i lost all my holiday pics from vietnam because i had no backup....

  3. Kurt S
    March 8, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Huzzah! A very nice set of tips for how to improve one's technique/craft. RTFM is always a good starting point, but one can often find "field guides" for specific makes and models of cameras that are easier on the eyes. Shooting the sky, Oh Yes. I do this a lot, and actually started shooting cloudscapes way back in the 1970s. Sun rises or Sun sets are always interesting. Storm clouds even more so.