An Easy Exercise to Improve Your Photography in 2024

Do you feel stagnant in your work? As someone who has transitioned to shooting professionally, I have found that growth within my own work has continually become more difficult. Doing this exercise helps me every time; it doesn't matter your skill level, and it applies to all genres of photography.

In the small niche of YouTube landscape photographers, reviewing their photos from the year has become a tradition, and this year is no different. However, I wanted to approach it with more intention than just reminiscing. This past year, I personally challenged myself to shoot outside my comfort zones, try new things, and find images in moments when I might not have even taken my camera out previously.

Reviewing your work, no matter your skill level, is always a really good practice. This goes a step further. Instead of reviewing recent images, pull up images you took a few years ago and really compare where your work is now to where it was not that long ago. Have things changed? Do you want them to change? Are they changing in the direction you want them to go?

Using my work as an example, the images above were taken early on in my landscape journey. Most of these are from 2017 to 2019 and generally represent the images I thought were some of my best from that time period.

Notice the levels of saturation, detail, and the attempt at perfecting every pixel to curate an almost dreamlike feel. The large pano of Kirkjufell is highly edited with light painting, fake shadows and dynamics, resizing of Kirkjufell, and more. You can see a full breakdown of that edit right here to see just how far I pushed it. I really enjoyed this style of editing back then. I didn't have the privilege to spend a lot of time in many places and found myself shooting photos only a few weeks out of the year - specifically when I was able to travel outside of Florida. Thus, the majority of my photography time was spent behind a computer, seeing how far I could push an edit.

Looking at a few of my favorite images from this past year, you can see a large change in my work. This isn't to say I don't take images that contain saturation, large dynamics, or sunstars. I still take those, typically with less editing involved. I can't include everything here, but I did try to pick out the images I personally loved the most from this year. The beauty is there is no right or wrong. Maybe there are people reading this who prefer the first set of images over the second, and that's totally okay.

The most important question is, do I enjoy them? I remember years ago capturing a big beautiful scene with perfect conditions and a lot of technical editing was the hit of dopamine I strived for. Those big grand scenes are what I woke up to capture. Yet this year, I remember sitting in foggy conditions with subdued light, feeling the same things. Finding patterns in a scene that took me a long time to navigate, getting them back on a computer and thinking, "Wow, I actually found something in that chaos."

The exercise here is more about reflecting on yourself and your work. What images stick out the most to you this year? Maybe it would be productive to keep working towards the images that mean the most to you. Maybe you have a set of images that you know are quality, but they aren't necessarily instilling any positive emotions; pay attention to these feelings. I can't tell you what or how you need to experience this process, but I hope these questions cause you to introspectively look within yourself as an artist to promote progress and growth.

Alex Armitage's picture

Alex Armitage has traveled the world to photograph and film some of the most beautiful places it has to offer. No matter the location, perfecting it's presentation to those absent in the moment is always the goal; hopefully to transmute the feeling of being there into a visual medium.

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