The BEST way to Dramatically Improve your Photography Skills – Photography Techniques

- November 25, 2016



The best way to dramatically Improve your photography skills is with practice! When we were kids we learned the phrase – practice makes perfect. That phrase has been around for ages and it is still around and won’t go away any time soon. The reason – it is sage advice. Practice is how to take better pictures.
The best athletes are the best – not just because of genetics – but because of a dedication to practice. The best musicians are the best – not because they were born with a talent, but because of practice. How did you learn how to ride a bike? Practice. How did you learn how to drive a car? Practice.

I promise you – the BEST photographers are the best – not because they were born with an extra creative gene in their DNA – but because of practice. Practice makes perfect. Being a skilled photographer is the same thing as being a skilled athlete. It doesn’t just happen because you want it to. It is the result of practicing the best photography techniques.

When I was 15 years old, I got my first motor drive for my very used Nikon F camera body. I had a Nikkor 200mm lens and I desperately wanted to learn how to take great sports photographs at my high school. One of my early idols was Sports Illustrated Photographer Neil Leifer. I would come home from school day after day and load a 36 exposure roll of black and white film. For those of you not around in the film days – you could buy film in 100ft long bulk rolls and then use reloadable film cartridges to load your own rolls of film. I would walk down to the end of my street where there was a busier roadway and take a seat on the curb. I would practice follow-focus as cars came up the road. My task was to keep the front passenger bumper in focus as the car approached and then passed me. I would do this for about 15 minutes and then put the roll of film in the camera and I would shoot the entire roll on the next car. Remember – no auto exposure – no auto focus – no zoom lens – just a 35mm Nikon F with a motor drive that sounded like a machine gun and a 200mm lens. I would then run home to my darkroom that my Dad had helped me build in the basement and develop the roll of film. I never printed these photos – but…. I did go frame by frame with a magnifying loupe to see how many were in tack sharp focus – and I kept a chart on my darkroom wall so that I could track my progress. Yeah – total geek. When I was 18 I won my first of several awards for newspaper sports photography.


Comments (261)

  • Great video :) Practising is key to getting better. I started taking pictures just 7 months ago, but I take pictures every day. Whenever possible, I take my camera with me and if I don't have my DSLR with me, I shoot with my iPhone.

    Zven mit Z - 1 week ago

  • As a teenager trying to learn photography, I really appreciate your videos!

    Riding Seaside - 1 month ago

  • Great video! Funny thing is, your words are quite applicable to... everything in life. Really inspiring, thank you!

    Sofialpaca - 1 month ago

  • Such sound advice and so inspirational... You have helped clear my head a little... As been stuck in the mud recently about what camera and what lens and lights to get... I understand a lot about light but never used flash, strobes or mono lights. Ive always tended to use lights I can get my hands on.. I got an understanding of lights help make something look great when I helped working on film sets.. But it confuses my about flash.

    paul McErlean - 1 month ago

  • Very inspiring and informative! Joe you are among the BEST teachers I have experienced... I got out of photography over 25 years ago. I was a product of the film era. With the encouragement of a good friend I plunged back in. The digital world is has been a learning experience. As I have progressed I realize the media (digital) may be different but I find more similarity with the "old" than I find differences. Keep putting out quality information (And great coaching) Joe! Thanks so much!

    jeff beeman - 1 month ago

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