I meet new photographers all the time at various photography meetings, gatherings, and shoots. We often look over each other’s portfolios and they will often ask how long I’ve been shooting and are shocked with I say 18 months thinking it must have been years. They then ask how I got as good as I did in such a short time. I don’t think I’m all that good, but I’m better than average and I have improved a great deal in a short time. I still have a long way to go and am constantly trying to improve. But since it keeps getting asked I thought I would share what I have done to get to were I am today. I’ll leave that up to you to decide where I am.
– Listen to photography podcasts. I like Tips From The Top Floor (TFTTF) but there are dozens of good ones out there. TFTTF is a short podcast and it gives a single tip every show. I also listen to This Week in Photography. They have some tips but it’s more about news in the photo industry.
– The best thing I ever did was join DPChallenge.com, they hold weekly competitions where they put out a theme and you have a week to go shoot that theme. What was so great about it is they give good, critical feedback. They will tell you exactly what you did wrong and are more than willing to tell you how to fix it. I learned more in the first 8 weeks there than I had the previous 6 months.
– Critique other people’s photos. It’s OK that you don’t know anything about critiquing just write down what you feel about it, or what catches your eye. You will very quickly learn what works and what doesn’t in a photo and can then apply these to your photos. Photography-on-the-Net and DPChallenge are both excellent places to critique others work, because people are asking for good harsh critique.
– Take a workshop at a local camera store. Most stores have a class that will get you up to speed on the basics for a very low cost. My goal is to go to at least one photo workshop a year.
– Shoot with others. Go to Meetup.com and find photography groups in your area, or join the local camera club. Every time I shoot with someone else I learn something new.
So doing the above and applying myself to photography helped me to improve significantly over 18 months. As I said above I still have a long way to go and I’m looking forward to the journey.