I’ve a tip for everyone on how to greatly improve your photography: shoot more.
That’s obvious, isn’t it. I suggest to you that you’re not shooting nearly as much as you should be, and the primary reason is you don’t have your camera with you all the time. Or if you do have your camera with you, it’s not easily accessible. Maybe you have it in your bag and by the time you can get it out, the moment has passed.
So how can you shoot more? Try the following and see where it takes you!
1. Mount a compact/light-weight lens on your camera, perhaps a 35mm or 50mm prime lens or a normal zoom like the kit lens. Leave your heavy tele and other lenses at home.
2. No camera bag. Find a comfortable way for you to carry your camera safely and securely with no camera bag. There are numerous ways to go about this.
- Just have it in your hand with no strap or grip. This is the cheapest but also not very secure since you risk it slipping out and dropping it.
- Use a hand grip. This is a bit more secure but this means that your hand is never free.
- Use the neck strap. This is secure but it’s uncomfortable.
- Wear the neck strap diagonally across your body as a sling. A lot of people do this. It’s secure, but I find that it’s uncomfortable and the camera lens protrudes from your body so you risk bumping it into things.
- Use a comfortable third-party sling strap. It's secure and comfortable and highly recommended. A popular brand is Black Rapid. I happen to use Peak Design.
- Use a belt clip. Secure and comfortable. Highly recommended. Peak Design also makes them. Another popular one is the SpiderPro from Shai Gear.
3. Remove the lens cap. A lot of people cap their lenses religiously when not in use. This is just not necessary and only slows you down because now you have to remove your lens cap and stow it away before every shot. Put the cap in your pocket and leave it there.
4. Either mount the lens hood in the forward position or leave it at home. Don’t mount it in reverse when out-and-about. Just like the cap situation, having it on reverse just gets in the way and slows you down.
5. Keep the camera powered on. You don’t save that much battery power by turning it off after every shot. You’re just wasting time and risk possibly missing a shot as you wait for the camera to turn on or try to take the shot with the camera off.
6. Set up your camera to minimize tinkering with settings. Some of you are comfortable enough with the buttons and dials on your camera that you can adjust settings on a whim. That’s great. The rest of you need to be more careful with this. You don’t want to bring your camera to your eye to shoot only to realize that you left the mode dial on Shutter Priority and had the shutter speed set to 2 seconds.
My fool-proof suggestion would be Auto-ISO, Aperture Priority, Continuous release, AF-A, 3D-tracking AF Area with center AF point active.
If you’ve done all that, this means that your camera is instantly accessible and ready to shoot at all moments. Then all you have to do is fire away. You’ll shoot more, learn more, be more comfortable with your camera, and inevitably become a much better photographer!