One of the habits that can lead to better photos is to ask yourself a very simple question after you take a photo: what would make it better?
Every time you take a photo, take some time to review it on your camera’s LCD, and look for ways you can make it better. It could be simple things like “wait until that flower stops moving in the air” or it could be more artistic stuff like “change my position so the image has more natural lines to guide the viewer through the frame.” Just look for something, anything.
And then, make that change you thought of, and repeat the process again: asking yourself “what would make this photo better?” Keep doing that until your answer is “nothing” or “I have no idea!” — but think hard about it! You don’t want to get home, review the photos on your computer and say to yourself, “oh no! I should’ve composed it like this instead.”
I think when we first see something in nature, we have a tendency to photograph it very simply — to take a “snapshot” or just an image to document our sighting. But, if we keep asking ourselves “what would make this image better?”, then we’ll eventually end up with the best image we can create.
Sometimes it’s hard reviewing your photos like this outdoors, because the bright sunlight makes it difficult to see your LCD. But, it helps if you move to a shaded area (or just turn your back to the sun), or you can use a HoodLoupe (one of the things I love about mirrorless cameras is that this kind of thing is built-in since they have an electronic viewfinder).
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About the Author: Steve Berardi is a nature photographer, software engineer, and founder of PhotoNaturalist. You can usually find him hiking in the beautiful mountains and deserts of southern California.