We all get a bit complacent when it comes to the skills we are working on, whatever they are. Sometimes it takes a bit of a kick in the rear to gets us moving towards improvement again, which is why I’ve put together this list of methods to improve your child photography skills. Regardless of where you are in the process, you should be able to use at least half of these techniques to kickstart your progress.
Keeping a photo diary helps you combine and improve two skills at once: child photography and writing. While you can journal online, this method is really well suited to those who like to write on paper, as you can print and arrange photos to suit your style. If online is your style, try a photo blog instead. Either way, you can choose how often you want to post, once you get started you’ll get into the hang of posting and taking photos regularly. Who knows – perhaps one day your musings will turn into a book!
Sometimes, limiting yourself can help you delve deeper into an aspect of child photography or help you “see” more photographic opportunity. So, choose a color, shape, or letter of the alphabet and focus on that for a full week (or month) – see what you can come up with! Some examples could be adding colored props to your kid’s photos, finding shapes in nature or outdoors, or making up your own fun theme.
When’s the last time you took in a photography show, or went to an art museum? By taking in the work of others you can see the techniques they used to create compelling pieces of art – techniques that you can use in your own images. You don’t need to focus on child photography – even landscape photography can give you insight into what it takes to make great photos.
Not a museum fan? Books are good too, specifically ones about child photography. The great thing about photography books is that they not only show you amazing images, they can also tell you how to achieve them. However, if you don’t have the basics under your belt, you might want to start there first. Start at the library – while some of the books might be older and not even deal with digital photography, the concepts are the same.
The number one issue holding people back from improving their skills is the fact that they only take out their cameras when they know there’s something to shoot – like at birthday parties, on vacation, or when there’s a big milestone. The fact is, no matter where you are, there is always something to take photos of. Take your camera out more, and use it.
Instead of switching between settings based on what you are shooting, try sticking with one setting for a period of time and learn how flexible it can be in different scenarios. Better yet, stick with the exact same setting (such as 1/60s or f/5.6) and see how you can work with it. Once you feel like you know a single setting intimately, move on to another one.
Getting out of your comfort zone will force you to learn new techniques that you can apply to all types of photography. This could be as simple as shooting child portraits in landscape mode, heading outside instead of staying indoors, or working with different types of lighting. If you always photograph with the same lens, try a new one!
Find a local photography club that you can join to share photos and get creative criticism, or look online. Even Flickr has some great clubs that can help you improve your techniques, offer advice, or provide ideas for new ways to shoot your favorite topics. Not only will you get great feedback, you’ll meet some great people too!