Be Inspired

IN FOCUS: 13 things you should do to improve your photography

IN FOCUS is a new series of articles where we will be asking some of the UK X-Photographers to give us advice, provide insight into their photography and share some of their favourite images of all time. In this blog post, they tell us what we should be doing to help improve our photography.


1. Take time to plan – Ben Cherry

“Offering yourself time to develop a photographic idea or project is something I’ve really grown to appreciate, some of the greatest photographic projects or even single photos were made possible because of time, not just in the moment/scene, but beforehand in the preparation and afterwards as photo selections are refined to fit your goal.”


2. Be visually aware – Saraya Cortaville

“Become visually aware, studying other genres of creative media to draw inspiration for their own work, learning how to use light, textures, colour and composition.”


3. Shoot for yourself – Chio Fernandez

“I went through a period where I was too worried about what other people would think about my work and I struggled to find an identity. Eventually I learnt to shoot without considering what people would say about it. I am still experimenting and my style is always changing, but I enjoy every single shutter release with no exception.”


4. Express your passion – Chris Weston

“I believe to make good photographs you have to have passion. Passion is what gives us life, energy, vitality. It’s what makes us interesting. The same goes for photographs. A photograph without passion is banal. It’s just lines and shapes on a page. Before you press the shutter, ask yourself what moves you? Why are you making this image? Are you telling the whole story? Go deep, investigate and get inside the subject. Be courageous, be daring. Don’t be literal. Don’t report, interpret. A photograph should take us beyond what the eyes can see, beyond what the viewer would be feeling if they were there. Who captures reality captures nothing.”


5. Get up early or stay up late – Chris Upton

“Photography is all about the light, and for landscapes the best light is at both ends of the day. So make the effort to get up before dawn or stay out after sunset, it costs nothing and your pictures will improve significantly.”


6. Vary your viewpoint – Chris Upton

“Composition is perhaps the biggest challenge for most photographers, what to include, what to exclude or how to arrange the elements within your photograph is so important and it’s the one thing your camera can’t do for you. One useful tip is to vary your viewpoint. Most images are taken at head height but simply changing to a lower or higher view can dramatically improve your shots.”


6. Make it all about light – Damien Lovegrove 

“Whatever you shoot light is everything. Virtually any subject can look great with wonderful light. Take the time to master lighting and put it at the top of your priority list for every shoot.”


8. Limit your focal lengths – Derek Clark 

“Limit yourself to just one or two focal lengths. There’s too much temptation to take every bit of kit you own out with you, but the less gear you use, the more you will get in the zone, which will make your pictures better.”


9. Learn, learn and learn again – Elli Cassidy 

“Understand the basics first and then add in as much learning as you can, whether through reading, watching videos, practising on your own or going on courses. The more knowledge you have, the better you will be at making the most of your shooting environment and opening up your creative possibilities. You’ll also be prepared to make the most out of any challenges or unexpected circumstances.”


10. Trust your gear – Kevin Mullins

“We spend thousands on cameras and yet often “professionals” don’t trust the cameras to do the things they are designed to do best. I’ll often shoot in fully automatic mode. Because I trust my Fujifilm cameras to get the technicalities right I can spend more time concentrating on looking for moments and anticipating the action.”


11. Get to know your camera – Mark Gilligan 

“I regularly hear people on my workshops say “when I have done this with you, I am going to buy a much better camera”. They are not disappointed when they save their money. Go out and practice. Write down what you do and remember that all your metadata is recorded. This helps you remember what you did at the time to get that image.”


12. Don’t worry what others think – Paul Sanders 

“Concentrate on connecting emotionally with your subject, shoot from the heart and forget everyone else. I shoot small projects just for me that are really just for me and I have no wish or care to know what others think – my flowers series for example, are purely personal and strangely are my best sellers!”


13. Think unconventionally – David Nightingale 

“The best piece of photographic advice I ever received was from Greg Heisler. “Once you think you’ve nailed the shot, shoot the opposite”. On the face of it this sounds a bit like a Zen riddle, but it references the fact that every photographic opportunity provides a myriad of opportunities, and that your initial choices regarding composition, exposure and so on are by no means the only ones that will work. In this instance I was shooting portraits for a project in Dubai, but this alternative shot of hands and prayer beads proved to be a much better image.”


More from the X-Photographers

X-Photographers are the official Fujifilm ambassadors. To find out more about the global X-Photographers, visit fujifilm-x.com/photographers.

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