Want to take better photos? The key is practice, practice, practice. And, if you get the chance to practice in the company of a pro, do it! Taking a photo tour with a legit photographer gives you the chance to ask all kinds of dumb questions and to correct one or two things that will immediately improve your shots.
Getting the chance to bum around with a professional photographer with an all access pass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And you don’t have to have tons of equipment or years of experience to have a great time and to learn to take better photos. I self-identify as a beginner-intermediate when it comes to using my DSLR camera, meaning I still have to think really, really hard about whether the aperture needs to be big or small to get a crisply focused background.
As a contributing writer with TravelingMom, I was introduced to Rick Gerrity. He’s a Lumix luminary and one of the “professors” with Unique University. He teaches a number of different classes and workshops and does road trips and tours that put you behind your camera in interesting places.
What I like most about taking walking tours with a pro, is that you have the chance to convey your frustration with your skills or your camera and get immediate troubleshooting assistance. Saturday’s group was small; 15 of us headed out to Donaldson Farms in Hackettstown, New Jersey. The Donaldson family has worked this bucolic land since 1906 so their passion spans generations. They rolled out the welcome mat for us, lent us their beautiful daughter Kieran for our photo shoot, and permitted us to wander all over their public farm and an abandoned dairy barn property they own nearby.
Over the course of 5 perfect autumn hours, we rolled around in the dirt, squinted through viewfinders, and played with Wallace and Gromit, a pair of very friendly goats. I was as happy as a pig in poop. Technically, I spent the day trying to figure out where to position myself relative to the pesky sun to avoid overexposure and my shadow. As we wandered around, I kept recalling lines from a favorite short story of mine, Guy de Maupassant’s The Farmer’s Wife, so I’ve included quotes as captions.
If you’d like to take better photos, check out local photography walking tours in your area. If none are available, try to identify one technical component you’d like to work on, such as composition or exposure. Read your camera manual or watch a tutorial. Then find an interesting destination to explore through your camera lens and shoot away! I keep practicing because I get so annoyed when I upload photos that I think are good and find out that they’re out of focus.
If you could improve one thing about your photos, what would it be?