This One Weird Trick Will Drastically Improve Your Photography

This One Weird Trick Will Drastically Improve Your Photography

Are you tired of seeing your peers gain more followers than you on Instagram? Does it always feel like you're behind everyone else on a technical level, or that maybe you don't get the respect you deserve? Well, I've got the perfect solution for you.

Okay, if you haven't figured it out before clicking on the article, I do apologize for the click-bait title, but really, dude, in this day and age you should have seen it coming. No, there is no simple trick to getting better, but I have condensed the path to improvement into three easy to remember philosophies? Parts? Peas? Yes! That's it.

The Three P's

Practice

That's it, folks. All it takes is hours and hours of concentrated effort. There is no magic bullet when it comes to learning a skill, and you're fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Yes, some people can figure things out a little quicker, or they possibly have some innate ability to judge a perfect composition, but for most of us plebs, we just need to put in more hours. It's also worth noting that it's important to learn smartly; as in, set goals for yourself, instead of just mindlessly wandering from one genre to the next, repeating the same technical mistakes or just not pushing yourself to learn something new. It's extra hard if you want to turn your hobby into a full-time profession, but there is a solution to that.

Patience

Ha. Got you again. It takes years and years of practice to reach a high level of anything. It can be very frustrating at times, but you need to be patient with yourself. Just keep putting in the hours, and eventually, some little thing will click, and you'll take another step upwards. You're not going to be Vivian Maier in a year. If you think about it, even Vivian Maier wasn't Vivian Maier until after she died! I can't say for sure that she didn't beat herself up for not creating images like Bresson, but she certainly wasn't in it for the fame or money. Do you want fame and money?

Small Yorkshire Terrier running towards the camera. Shot at a low angle.

It requires a lot of patience and practice to photograph pets, especially puppies.

Passion

Yeah, if you don't truly love what you're doing, then you won't get to a level where you're producing high-class imagery for Nike, or selling a photo of a potato for one million Euros. Some might say: "Hey Mike, I shoot commercial imagery for giant companies and get paid in speedboats and chocolate fountains, but I'm dead inside. How do you account for that?". Well, let's call this guy Pete,to stick with our theme of P: "well, Pete, you need to ask yourself why you started in this business in the first place. I'm sure that you weren't dead inside this whole time, were you? Of course you weren't. At some stage, photography lost it's magic for you. And, while that's disappointing, it's not the end of the world. You just need to move on to the next phase of your life." As for you, the reader, you need to ask yourself why you really want to get better. Because if you just want to be noticed, then your imagery will reflect these vapid notions.

To Conclude

It can be demoralizing when you notice some of your peers pull ahead of you in respect of the quality of images that they produce. We can sometimes make excuses, maybe even feel bitter or envious. But these are useless tendencies. Left alone and without consideration, these feelings will fester into a toxic attitude towards our fellow creatives. I see the results of this all the time on the web; a photographer will be featured or have an image of theirs featured on a popular site, like Fstoppers, and, while the reactions are mostly positive, every now and then, there are one or two snide remarks — often from someone with nothing at all to show for themselves. To those people, I would say: do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right? This can be the same for us writers. Thankfully, though, we're immune to most of it due to our thick, weathered hides. 

We would really appreciate it if you could share your thoughts on improvement in the comments below. It doesn't have to start with a P, but extra credit if it does!

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47 Comments

I'm no mathamagician but I think you have three "hacks" not one. (I used hack to up your SEO :)

Mike O'Leary's picture

Mike Ditz is on the ball, yall. :)

Perseverance.

yanpekar's picture

Very misleading title. "One Weird Trick"? What trick are you referring to when talking about "practice, passion, patience"?? I am sorry, don't mean to be rude, but the title has nothing to do with the content, and besides - what is the point of saying something very obvious that has already been said million times? What value does it add? I find it very manipulating to use a click bite title, especially when you realise that you used it on purpose, to make people click on it. Writing something that adds value and helps people become better photographers would be a more honest approach, and would save people' time.

Mike O'Leary's picture

The title is meant to be satirical. It's poking fun at Buzzfeed type articles and also at the kind of content that promises shortcuts to getting better. The whole point of the article is to say that there are no shortcuts.

yanpekar's picture

Thank you for replying. In this case, your message was not clear. Writing (as well as photography) is a language of communication. Your message is clear to you, but it may not be the case for others. (I am not even aware of Buzzfeed articles, so have no clue what you are talking about). Having to read the whole article just to understand the title is a waste of time, to be honest. If your style is "setting expectations and then writing against the expectations" then I am sure I would not like to read more of similar content. I feel my time has been wasted and I do not appreciate when "writers" use manipulative techniques to make people click on a title.

Mike O'Leary's picture

You clearly didn't read the the article properly because I explained it in the second paragraph. If you didn't get the satire after reading that bit, then maybe you're not as bright as you think you are. It's a joke. Get over it.

yanpekar's picture

Rather than being defensive and unnecessary rude, consider learning to accept criticism, and writing content which adds value to your readers. I did not read the article until the end because I value my time. You don't have to read the whole article or a book to understand if it is worth reading. A few sentences from each paragraph was enough. If it's crap, if it does not add any value (whether it is an article, book or movie), I prefer to stop and move on, it saves time. All the best.

Mike O'Leary's picture

Unecessarily rude? You're the one who condescendingly referred to me as a "writer" (in quotation marks) after I had the courtesy to explain the joke to you for a second time. You didn't understand what I was saying, so instead of accepting that you might have misunderstood something, you took a cheap shot at me with a snide remark and a smart-ass reply about mentorship. I work my ass off, full time as a photographer and writer for Fstoppers, where I endeavour to write original content that is entertaining as well as informative. You get to read all this for free, yet you come into my back yard and moan like an entitled child when you cant comprehend basic satire. And I'm the one who's rude? I explained to you that you didn't get the joke, yet you doubled down on your ignorance. Maybe it's time you took some of your own advice and "consider learning to accept some criticism."

yanpekar's picture

Mike, you can keep being defensive and rude. The choice is yours. Hope you do something today that would make you feel good and positive. Please calm down. I had no intention to offend you or being rude towards you. I sincerely apologise if my words made you feel this way. If people do not understand your message, maybe try to explain it in such a way that would help them to understand it. Being angry and rude does not help. You are right, we get to read Fstoppers content for free. However, I assume you get paid for your work. Free content does not have to be "useless content". I am here to read something that has value, something that would help me become a better photographer. Please don't be offended when people tell you the truth. Maybe it would help you to become a better Writer in the future, who knows? If I were your client, would you speak with me this way? Your readers are your potential clients. Again, I do apologise if my words offended you. All the best.

Mike O'Leary's picture

More condecending nonsense and a fake apology if I ever saw one. None of the other commentors seem to have had difficulty in comprehending the article.

yanpekar's picture

Mike, I am very sorry for you if you are not even able to understand or hear when someone says "I apologise". I feel it would be a waste of time to continue if you are so angry or unstable that you are not willing to listen and understand basic things.

You "value" your time; but spend your 'valuable time' provoking meaningless arguments with strangers.

yanpekar's picture

"Provoking" is what you are doing (same as throwing more wood into the bonfire which has already been extinguished). I expressed my opinion. If you do not like - you are very welcome to move on. Better than trying to start a meaningless fight with a stranger. It's easier to throw words on the Internet, when no one can see you face, right? If you are looking for someone you could start a fight with - go to a nearest pub and start a fight. Face to face. Relax, dude, and find something meaningful to do:)

Your opinion, like you, appears to be utterly worthless.

But surprise, you're the guy who has OK images, but a low rating (a whole 1.7); suggesting that you habitually act this way. Human garbage is human garbage.

Incidentally, I would have no problem calling you an asshole to your face.

yanpekar's picture

You can continue making yourself look like a clown publicly. If you have no brain to think before you say or write something. I wish something would happen to you today that would make you feel less miserable and more positive. Have a great day.

You really aren't very good with criticism, are you?

You know, someone who was secure within themselves would take on board the observations, from multiple people over time, that you are a rude person. But then, if you were secure about yourself, you wouldn't do it.

But hey, you are just another worthless person who is trying to make others feel bad so you can feel better about yourself; the sad part is that it will never work.

You are pathetic.

yanpekar's picture

Will, you are wasting your time. You can throw a million words trying to abuse me. Virtually. Because people get "brave" on the Internet and allow themselves say things they would not say face to face. Stop wasting your time, it is totally meaningless. Try to be a kinder person. All the best.

1. I didn't declare that my time was "valuable", in an effort to appear important, and superior to my interlocutor.

2. I worked nightclub security for 2.5 years; so fear is not my issue; and your attempt at emasculation is futile and transparent. It also says far more about you than it does about me.

3. Isn't it funny how people (such as you) who are rudest, are the ones who cry when they get it back...

4. You are pathetic.

yanpekar's picture

You are so funny:) Thank you very much for making my day!

Oh, this is the part where you pretend that you are so superior that you can only laugh at my foolishness.

However, you and I both know that you are dying on the inside, and screaming to be respected by others.

yanpekar's picture

You are incredibly funny:) Thanks again for making my day! Have a great day too!

You have now devolved to repetition. Are you trying to look like an idiot?

Edit: you're Spanish; that explains so very much about your behaviour.

You really should get someone who knows what they are doing to overhaul your website. The layout is terrible, and quite a few of the images are broken.

I'm also confused as to why you have published some truly terrible images to your website, given that you appear to be capable of so much more; given your lack of judicious selection, one can only conclude that you are nowhere near as good as you think you are. But sure, if you think that mediocre and poor images belong in your portfolio, more power to you.

My question is, why would a professional photographer so willingly damage their own brand (by being nasty to everyone else)? One can only assume you are utterly ignorant about such matters. Maybe you believe that potential clients don't come to sites like this, maybe you just don't care.

1.7 LOL

yanpekar's picture

There is indeed no end to some people's stupidity, as someone said. In this case - yours. First, I am not Spanish. Living in Spain does not make me Spanish. Second - beyond being incredibly rude and aggressive, you are now being discriminative. Second - we are searching for your location, and my lawyer will be in contact with you.

Steven Magner's picture

Quit being such a Pekar.

Best comment here

yanpekar's picture

Drinking too much may contribute to people letting themselves to be rude and aggressive on the Internet (and being “brave” when no one can see their face). Did you drink too much magner cider?:)

Projecting much?

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