Here are 10 simple steps to elevate your photography from the rest of the photographers out there.
1. Find a Different Perspective
When you get the opportunity to visit those iconic locations, go ahead and recreate those classic shots you have seen from the master photographers. These compositions are always great to have in your body of work. Think about the sunrise view at Maroon Lake in Colorado or the reflection at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. These are great places to get an amazing photograph, but these locations offer so much more in the near vicinity. DO NOT become obsessed with the iconic location! Look around, try something new, even try shooting in the opposite direction of everyone, and see what possibilities present themselves. You will be surprised at what you have been missing.
2. Hike to Distant Locations
Sometimes even short distances off of the beaten path will yield something few have ever seen. If you’ve got a 4WD vehicle, use it to travel to locations that many photographers cannot get to. I ski and mountain bike to locations with a camera, traveling fast with just one lens and a couple of filters. I backpack to locations high in the mountains with my family, not only so we can bond around the campfire, but also to shoot locations that many don’t. Go as far and as fast as you feel comfortable with, even if it’s just a short distance beyond the norm, you will see a drastic improvement in your photos.
3. Focus on the Ground & Air
Turn your camera to the air or tilt it to the ground at your feet. Try to distort your current surroundings as much as possible. This can yield perspectives that have never been seen before. DO NOT become stagnant with your camera placement.
4. Go Out in Bad Weather
Inclement weather increases drama in a photo, and drama makes for a stronger photo. Clearing storms provide great potential for powerful colors, rainbows, and shade and shadow elements. Use a polarizer to remove glare from leaves and discover how it makes colors pop.
5. Discover the Intimate Landscape
The closer you get to your subject the more intimate the image becomes. Let the detail in your work shine through as you remove the distracting elements from your frame. Let color, shape, texture and line be your guide.
6. Research Locations
In our computerized age, all the research you might ever want to do on any region is there at your fingertips. Investigate the locations where you plan to shoot, and see what other amazing photographers have captured there. Use those photos as your basis of what is available in the area, and then expand upon them. Move on to create your own new compositions. You will elevate your photography by pushing the creative envelope. The days you struggle the most are typically the days you create the award winners.
7. Shoot Locally
Revisit wild areas near your home or visit your local zoo with multiple lenses. Try standing in different spots, work on all sorts of compositions, and then critique your photos when you get home. Learn everything you can from what you do in the field. Then take what you have learned with you on the road whenever you head someplace new. Always reflect on past knowledge gained.
8. Use Telephoto Lenses Instead of Wide Angle
Don’t be afraid to try taking a different lens out of your kit to open up new possibilities. Creativity is something to cultivate, and one of the most fulfilling ways to do that is to push your boundaries and shoot outside the box. Use a telephoto where you might have used a wide angle in the past and vice versa. You will be amazed at how different something looks when the perspective is changed.
9. Study Other Creative Disciplines
Look to painting, architecture, graphic design, web design, music, movies and more to fill your creative soul. Allow what you learn about those other disciplines to motivate you to become a better photographer. This agains helps you elevate your photography.
10. Enjoy Your Subjects and Surroundings
Cherish every minute of your time there and never forget all of those amazing experiences. That emotion will transfer to your photographs. They say the best chefs add a part of themselves to every dish. Emotion is a powerful way to succeed. Feel the Force flow…
Now go out and try it today! I can guarantee if you focus on only a couple of these suggestions, you will elevate your photography beyond the typical possibilities.
And if you need some inspiration, subscribe to our mailing list and get a free copy of one of our ebooks. And if you are coming to the Tetons visit our brand new Teton Photograph Resource.