5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

26 March 2020

One of the most exciting things about photography is that it’s a creative craft you can develop over time. Whether you’re a seasoned shutterbug or are only just considering buying your first camera, there’s always room to improve your photography skills and develop your practice. From photography blogs filled with helpful tips to more formal classes and courses, there are plenty of options for honing your skills.

Whichever you choose, be mindful that when it comes to becoming a better photographer, there’s no quick-fix solution: Our number one tip for taking good photos is simply to practice! Still, we understand that with all the excitement and commitments of everyday life, finding time for daily photography practice can be tough.

To make things easier, we’ve rounded up our 5 favourite creative photography exercises that you can slot into your everyday routine. Read on to discover our top tips for small actions that can make a huge difference in the quality of your photographs from day one.

1. Take at least one photo every day

Thanks to the invention of smartphones and increasingly streamlined compact cameras, it’s now easier than ever to take your photography on the go. Slip a camera into your pocket or bag every time you leave the house and start thinking like a photographer. Aim to take at least one photograph every day, making sure you capture a different scene, location, or subject every time.

Once you get in the habit of taking your compact camera or camera-enabled smartphone with you everywhere you go, the next step is to get over the self-conscious feeling many people have when shooting on the street. Be calm and confident when taking photos in public places, and always remember to ask someone’s permission before including them in your shot. In no time, spotting photo opportunities and capturing them with your camera will become second nature.

5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

2. Know what you want to shoot before picking up your camera

5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

If you’re struggling to come up with photography ideas or can’t seem to find anything interesting in your immediate surroundings, make a list of things you want to keep an eye out for before your shoot. This can include certain items like specific plants or types of street signs, or even broader categories like items of a certain colour.

This simple photography exercise can help you get out of a creative rut, and can also help you spot new and exciting details in your environment. Best case scenario? You end up with a nice series of detail images that are perfect for framing or display in a coffee table book.

3. Learn how to shoot in manual mode

Fully automated shooting is fine if you’re just taking basic snapshots or portraits and want decently exposed images. However, if you’re looking to grow your photography skills or take more distinctive photos, learning how to use your camera’s manual mode is key. Shooting in manual mode will help you take well-exposed images and also give you more control over the look and feel of your final image.

Full manual shooting can be daunting for beginners, so as a start we recommend learning about aperture and shutter speed adjustments. Start your journey into manual shooting by putting your camera in either Aperture or Shutter Priority mode: You’ll adjust either of these settings, and your camera will recalibrate to do the rest.

5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

4. Shoot the same subject from different angles

5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: You see something you’d like to take a photograph of, stand up straight, and take an image straight on, at eye level. At the end of the day, you end up with a memory card full of variations of the same image. As a beginner photographer, it’s tempting to simply point, shoot, and call it a day. 

Basic photography best practice is to move around your subject and try to capture it from as many angles as possible. Take the first, instinctual shot, then get low down to the ground or test out other photography composition techniques. Can you get a higher vantage point somehow? Have you considered shooting in vertical or portrait orientation? Are you including enough negative space? Asking yourself these questions with every shot can help develop your photography skills and improve your overall aesthetic sensibility.

5. Study and recreate another photographer’s work

One of the many great things about living in the digital age is that photography inspiration is plentiful and easy to find. Particularly when you’re just starting off, find a master photographer whose work you admire and try to copy their style. After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery!

By attempting to copy another photographer’s style, you can break down the elements that appeal to you - whether this is their use of light, composition, or a particular photography technique - and use them in your own photography practice. This process can also help you develop an eye for what makes a good photographin the first place.

5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos5 Photography Exercises to Take Better Photos

Top Tip: Pick an image you like and try to recreate it as closely as possible, focusing on elements like composition, lighting, and any other things that stand out. Once you can recreate someone else’s masterpiece, chances are you’re ready to make your own!

Photography practice exercises keep creative juices flowing

At Ted’s, our number one photography tip is to keep practicing, learning, and growing. Whether you’re a professional or an eager beginner, our photography practice exercises can ensure that you stay inspired and on top of your skillset.

Ready to start taking better photos? Get more photography advice and inspiration on our blog, or drop into your local Ted’s Camera store to see the latest in photography gear and accessories today!

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