Adjusting to the new quarantined lifestyle can be a challenge for the creative people among us. Photographers that are used to seeking inspiration in the outdoors will find the forced confinement difficult to overcome. However, isolation doesn’t have to be an obstacle to self-development, and with some time at your disposal, it can become an opportunity to take your photography skills and practice to the next level. Here are our 11 ways to improve your photography skills, and prep for your next photo adventure, while social distancing.
1. Take an editing course.
Post production is an integral part of photography. If you really want to master the craft of image-making, it is essential to learn how to edit. Knowing how to use tools such as Lightroom and Photoshop will not only allow you to fix mistakes but also to develop your personal style through unique editing patterns. Many tutorials where you can learn all about curves, sharpening, and color correction are available for free on YouTube. Students and teachers are also able to access the typically pricey Adobe Creative Cloud for free until May 31.
2. Back up your images and empty SD cards.
Something that’s never done often enough — backing up your images. Ideally, you want to store multiple copies of your images in different places to be extra safe. Free cloud services such as Google Photos allow you to store unlimited images up to 16 megapixels. For higher quality photographs you can use a physical hard drive or a paid cloud service such as Dropbox. After backing up, take the chance to clear your SD cards to have them ready for your next shoot.
3. Experiment with printing.
Viewing your best shots on screen is one thing, but having them hanging on your wall is something completely different. By ordering different print qualities you’ll be able to check how your photos look on paper, in different formats. Large prints will give you a different perspective on your work, allowing you to take a fresh look at your most successful compositions.
4. Make photo albums.
If large prints aren’t an option, how about good, old fashioned photo albums? Collecting your memories in book format is a great way to preserve and share the moments of your life worth remembering. Photo albums can be thematic, chronological, or dedicated to specific trips or destinations. Use this time to be really creative and thoughtful in creating these albums.
5. Go macro.
Macro photography is the art of capturing small objects in a size larger than real life. If you can’t keep your finger off the shutter button, macro photography is something you can try out within the boundaries of your home. For the best results, specifically designed lenses are recommended, but even with the standard equipment you can produce great images with a bit of creativity and patience.
6. Clean your gear.
If you are used to traveling often and moving your camera, tripod, and lenses around from a place to the other, it may be a good idea to take all your gear and give a well deserved clean up. Taking care of your photography tools will result in better images, as dust, fingerprints, and stains can all affect the quality of your output. Photography gear can be quite delicate, so pay attention to avoid scratching the glass or damaging the sensor, and always use appropriate kits when cleaning surfaces.
7. Upload to stock sites.
You won’t get rich by selling stock photography, but if you have built a large archive, it is well worth considering making them available for purchase. Travel photography tends to do relatively well on stock sites and if you have the patience to select, upload, categorize, and tag each image, it can become a profitable source of passive income. Setting up a functioning account on sites like Alamy, Shutterstock, or Stocksy will take some time at the start but might prove beneficial in the long run, and perhaps even get your photos on a large publication.
8. Update your website or portfolio.
Your best work is often your most recent work, so it’s important to have it out there where people can see it. Whether you already have a website showcasing your work or simply present your best pictures through Instagram, the lockdown can be an opportunity to review what users have been seeing and update the content to better suit your current style.
9. Take self-portraits.
When no other subject is available, why not put yourself in the frame? Place yourself close to a natural light source and start shooting. Capturing self-portraits is not just a matter of practice, your pictures will come in handy every time you need to send out a resume, update your Linkedin or social media profile, or show who you are in your portfolio. Taking the time to show your personality through a series of well-executed shots will allow people who come across your profile to get a first impression of you and, perhaps, even start a collaboration. If you’re typically self-conscious about taking photos, now is the perfect time to get more comfortable and take as much time as you want to nail the shot.
10. Develop your presets.
For the more advanced photographers and photo editors, the quarantine may be the right time to develop a collection of Lightroom presets to speed up the editing process once you get back in action. Lightroom presets are filters you can apply to your images in the post production stage to make your projects look consistent and balanced. Depending on the mood you want to convey, you can create presets that involve specific color palettes, hard or soft shadows, or vintage effects that will elevate the message you are trying to send with your photography.
Luckily, we live in an era where connecting to like-minded people doesn’t have to mean participating in live events or setting up meetings. While shows and exhibitions are put on hold, you can use the power of social media to get yourself noticed by other photographers or seek possible collaborations for future projects. Networking can be as simple as sharing your appreciation for someone else’s work or asking for a tip on the best shooting locations. You never know where a personal connection can lead.