How to improve your photography

Oregon beach mist

This post is sponsored by American Express Membership Rewards®

It is the start of a new year which inevitably means I’m dreaming up photography projects and looking to improve my skill set. The latter is a challenge I give myself every year and over time I’ve come to rely on five methods. As part of a New Year treat and in partnership with American Express I will be sharing my tips on how to develop and hone your photography skills.

These tips require either an investment in time or money (and sometimes both). While photography can often come with a hefty price tag you will be pleased to hear that with selected American Express Cards that accrue Membership Rewards you can easily offset these loyalty points against almost any item on your statement making it a great way to lessen the financial load. Here are my tips on how to hone and improve your photography skills, across a range of price points so you can choose depending on your budget.

5 tips to improve photography skills

  1. Do your research (£)
    Even though I was primarily working towards improving my food and travel photography I spent a lot of time looking into other genres to study light and composition. I’m a bookworm and naturally gravitated towards books and magazines but of course visiting a museum or going down the rabbit hole of the world wide web where there’s endless inspiration is also a great way to go. A book I highly recommend is David DuChemin’s Within the Frame (£30), it’s both instructional and philosophical in helping photographers find their “vision”.
  2. Invest in prime lenses (££-££££)
    Having the top of the line photography gear is not what makes a great photographer but having the right tools can come a long way in helping you achieve the image you’ve envisioned. Once I started using prime lenses (50mm, 85mm and 100mm macro) and saw the difference in quality to zoom lenses along with that dreamy blur (bokeh) as a result of the smaller f-stops I saw an instant improvement in my work; the images were not only sharper but the quality of light was also better. The prime lens I recommend most to friends is the “nifty fifty”, a 50mm f1.8 lens that costs no more than £100.
  3. Experiment with editing (£-££)
    Good composition and capturing mood with light with a camera is 70% of the battle. How you edit is another element of what defines your style and sets you apart. There are great online resources such as Skillshare (£10/month), CreativeLive (£50-£100) and B&H Photo Eventspace (free) on how to use Lightroom and Photoshop for editing.
  4. Invest in photography workshops (££-££££)
    The caveat to this is to attend workshops held by the photographers whose work you admire. I invest in a destination-based photography workshop every other year to learn how the teacher approaches a scene, to challenge my own eye and gain inspiration. It’s also a great way to meet likeminded photographers. In London in particular I’ve noticed an increase of workshop offerings so it’s great to know that there are plenty of options. The travel photography workshop I have on my wishlist is one hosted by Gentl & Hyers in Mexico at a cost of £4,000.
  5. Work on personal projects
    I saved the most important one for last. Working on your own personal project can provide the steepest learning curve. Participate in popular projects such as Project 365 or Project 52 to get you started and motivated. Personal projects do not have to be long term either. I tend to treat each trip I go on as a personal project and assign myself a technique to focus on. The point is to shoot with intention and to experiment in order to see results.

I hope these tips on developing your photography skills will serve you well in 2018. For American Express Cardmembers, I also hope I’ve given you some inspiration on how to spend the points you may have accumulated from your Christmas shopping! For more information on how you can Use Points Towards Purchases with American Express Membership Rewards visit www.membershiprewards.co.uk (please note terms apply).


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