Be a better Photographer

Be a better photographer in 2011
The mark of a new year is a fantastic time to start a new photography project. It can be agonising making a decision on what to start,  and it creates a lot of pressure if you just focus on one subject. We recommend starting several projects and letting (at least) one come naturally to the fore.

If you know you're the kind of person to start projects with good intent but never actually get round to finishing them, why not challenge yourself to an exhibition at a local gallery, or, that you will enter a portfolio into a competition?

We're all guilty of doing it, we get good at one type of photography and start to get stuck in a rut. Whether it's landscapes, portraits or something else that's your main focus, it can do your creativity a world of good to try something completely out of your comfort zone.

Always shooting landscapes? Challenge yourself to photograph strangers in the street and you could be amazed by the results. On the flip side, fashion photographers who are always studio bound may be surprised by what they might find on the outside world.

A good place to start is our user galleries, where you can search by genre.
If you struggle to find motivation for a project, starting a photoblog could give you the focus you need. Knowing that there are people out there looking at your work and looking forward to seeing new photos, could be just what you need to get moving.

We'd recommend you choose one genre of photography to base your blog around to target niche audiences really well. Whether it be on street photography, your travel snaps or something more regular like this morning's breakfast, if you're creative enough you could soon build up a respectable audience.
You probably walk past a thousand photography opportunities every day without even realising it. Make time every day, week, month or whatever you can spare to spend some time walking around your local area looking for something unique to shoot.

It might be unusual patterns in the road, street scenes, people or something else entirely - but once you open your eyes up to the possibilities you'll probably start seeing things you've never noticed before.

Let's face it, a good majority of our images end up languishing in a forgotten corner of our hard drives never to be looked at again.

Why not make 2011 the year you finally get round to printing off your best work. You could create your own photobook, make up large scale prints or do something more creative like a wall display.

Whatever you do, it'll not only force you to look through, and re-evaluate, your old work, it'll show off your images far better than Facebook ever will.
No matter what field of photography you're interested in, there's bound to be a photographer that inspires you. Carefully study the work of others by checking libraries for books and finding photography exhibitions to visit.

If you're lucky enough to live somewhere like London where there a number of photography exhibitions happening at one time, you could make it a weekly, or monthly event. Don't forget, entrance to most exhibitions is also free.

Don't forget about your contemporaries too. Check the galleries of PhotoRadar for inspirational images from other users. Join the forums to get advice and tips from other users and offer critique in return. Other photography sites like Flickr also provide much inspiration due to the sheer number of uploads per day.

Be influenced and inspired by the work of others, but don't diretly copy or be a slave to style. If it's been done before, don't duplicate it but immersing yourself in high-quality photography will spur you on to create your own top-class work.

Get the year off to a good start with these 25 inspirational photo galleries.
One of the easiest ways to get a regular dose of inspirational photography and critique of your own work is to join a photography club.

A fantastic way to meet like minded individuals, you can also discuss ideas and compare techniques. Many also have specially organised events from professional photographers and the opportunities to join other members in holding exhibitions.

Whether you're stuck indoors on a rainy day or just want to learn how to improve every shot, getting to grips with Photoshop is a must.

Along with basic tweaks to enhance all your images, you can also do creative things like recreate a tilt-shift lens lookrestore old photographs and transform your images to black and white. And don't miss these free Photoshop downloads for photographers.

Luckily, we have hundreds of tutorials to get you started right here on PhotoRadar. Learn the basics to begin with and move on to more complicated ideas once you're confident.

Whether you're an Elements user or a full CS user, we have plenty of tips over at the Techniques and Videos section.
If you've stood in the freezing cold snow for half an hour waiting for the exact right conditions for your photograph, you will have the tendency to believe it's the best you've ever taken. But a photograph should be able to stand up to viewing without you being there to relate the conditions you were in at the time.

Are your images composed with enough care? Are there any distractions in the scene that you should have spotted before you pressed the shutter release? Is it critically sharp rather than almost sharp enough?

Although you're probably itching to check your photos on the same day you shot them, it will do your editing skills a favour if you don't. By giving yourself more breathing space you'll become more objective in your assessment.
One of the best things about entering competitions is it gives you the ability to measure what other people think of your photography. As long as it's done in the right spirit, entering large-scale competitions such as Digital Camera Photographer of the Year gives you the opportunity to have your work judged amongst some of the finest work in the world.

Shooting to fit a competition's category criteria is a great way to flex your creative muscle. Other entrants can often give you feedback as well. See the winning images from this year's competition to give you some inspiration for next year.

It's not just our competition that you can enter though, check out what else has been judged in high esteem this year with Best Photos 2010: A year in competition winners and find the 10 best photography competitions to enter in 2011.

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