9 Resources for Improving Your Photography
Are you interested in improving your own photography, but don’t know quite where to start?
I have totally been there before!
I’ve spent years searching for the best resources to improve my own photography. But often the result was me holding my breath and praying that a photo would turn out okay.
I wasn’t even thinking about photos turning out how I had them in my mind. I just want to them to be okay.
But fortunately my tenacity and curious mind paid off, and I eventually found resources that honestly help me grow.
This post tells of 9 resources that you can use to improve your own photography.
(1) Private Photo Workshops
I mention private workshops first, because this is probably the most pivotal thing that I’ve done for my own photography.
A few years ago, I took a workshop in Mexico with Maggie Steber through PhotoXpeditions. Maggie was able to look at my photos after one day of shooting and give me three tips to continue to focus on the rest of the week.
This assignments was something that I was able to accomplish, and also made my photos significantly better.
This allowed me to feel more confident and empowered, and connect better with the other people in the workshop.
This then gave me a built in community, whom I still keep in touch with. We support each other, even though we live all over the U.S. and Europe. If you want to know more about the people I met, I interviewed them here.
This may seem like an overly obvious resource. But you need to listen to the right podcasts. The two that I talk about here have leveled up my understanding of photography significantly, to the point that I can easily “talk shop” with just about anybody.
The Candid Frame
This podcast comes first, because I can’t begin to express how thankful that I am for this resource. In 2006, Ibarionex Perello started this weekly podcast that focuses on long-form interviews with some of the best and some of the most promising photographers that the English-speaking world knows.
As you listen to the interviews, you’ll notice the trends that each photographer speaks of for (1) making more interesting photos, (2) getting emotion out of people, (3) running a successful business, and (4) so much more!
This content is all free (if you want it to be) and gives you access to knowing the stories behind the very best in the industry.
The History of Photography
Jeff Curto is a now retired history of photography professor who leveraged podcast technology early on to better serve his own students. Before retiring he put his course slideshows and accompanying lecture and discussion into a 15-part podcast called The History of Photography.
This allows anyone who is interested to follow along his course. The result is a much better understanding for the breadth of technology that exists to make interesting photos. You also gain an understanding for the change-makers in the field.
This resource will also allow you to hold an intelligent conversation with most photographers and photography enthusiasts that you meet.
(3) Local Guides
See where you can find private lessons that will meet your budget. When I took a solo trip to Italy last year, I learned of Airbnb Experiences, and was pleasantly surprised to find 3-hour photography lessons.
(4) Local Photography Schools
Look into what your local market offer and see where you can take classes. When I lived in Dallas, a common source of photography education was the local community college. I was able to find the good teachers by asking at a beloved local camera store.
When I lived in Miami, the Miami Institute of Photography moved right down the street from me.
After living in Austin for a few months, I did some searching and found the Austin School of Photography. It ended up being exactly what I was looking for, and put me on contact with other growing photographers.
My point in sharing this is that whatever city I’ve lived in, there are local photo schools that offer rather low price photo education.
Wherever you live, there very well be a similar option. So, check into it.
(5) Professional Organizations
If you want to get good at something, go to where the professionals are. I was encouraged to join Professional Photographers of America (PPA), because a friend of a friend was the local chapter president.
When I first started attending, I wasn’t a professional photographer, but I was exploring the option. What I got was monthly meetings where I rubbed elbows with working photographers and advanced hobbyists. I also learned a few insights that have stayed with me till today.
You may also want to check out the American Society of Media Photographers (AMSP). They specialize in online education and business aspects of photography. Regardless of your level of photography, this organization will put you in touch with a community that can help you be a better photographer.
(6) Conferences and Festivals
Any time you can be around other photographers, and talk about photography, you will have the opportunity to grow.
The first year that I was a member of PPA, I was invited to attend their annual conference for free, Imaging USA. The location that year was a city only a few hours drive from where I lived. So, all I had to pay for was an Airbnb.
I attended and met so many other photographers. Attended so many talks by industry leaders. And I learned so much along the way.
When I lived in Miami, I learned of the Miami Street Photography Festival. Similarly, many of the event were free. I learned so much, and expanded my photographer friend network.
My friends in Chicago have also told me great things of the Filter Photo Festival. A photo colleague recently told me great things of the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Expo.
Wherever you live, do some searching and see what conference and festivals work for you.
(7)University Provided Workshops
The more that you network with other photographers, you will find that serious photography students attend university provided workshops. By getting to know Neeta Satam and Andriana Mereuta, I learned of the Missouri Photo Workshop and the Mountain Photo Workshops.
Each are respectively organized by University of Missouri and Western Kentucky University.
The workshop are for serious photography students. You must apply to be accepted. While there you are taught by working professional instructors. And both workshops are pivotal in shaping a young photographer’s career.
(8) Budding Local Photographers
No matter what you are learning, one of the best ways to learn is to build your own learning community. This may be hard to do with photography if you are learning outside of formal education.
But, find others who are photography nuts like you and make a connection with them.
Maybe you can just grab a coffee. Or maybe you can go on a photo shoot.
I recently got very adventurous and arranged for a small group of photographers to do the 12-week Artist’s Way program together. The goal of this is for all of use to find our own creativity, while building a strong photographer network.
Figure out what photographers you know in your community, reach, and figure out if you can connect on some level.
(9) Shooting While Critically Reflecting
In my last post on making better photos, I concluded with a plug for not getting stressed out. Improving your photography can be a long road.
But while you are not getting stressed and having fun, find a way to critically reflect on your own photo journey. I like to use Instagram to see my own progress over the years.
I know other photographers who write down in a paper journal what works and what doesn’t. In this post, Ibarionex Perello talks about using the DayOne app to keep his own photo journal to document his growth.
What will it be?
What do you think? Are you ready to try something out? Or… did I overwhelm you with resources?
Well, if I overwhelmed you, I’m sorry. I do tend to be an over-sharer.
I do hope that you found this information useful!