If you’re a young photographer or just trying to grow and improve, this is a good guide to start with.
1. YouTube Photography School
Start here. There are so many amazing photography tutorials for free online via YouTube. This series is my favorite (and extremely interactive). This will teach you all the basics and more. It’s awesome and by the same guy who made this famous viral vid (haha).
2. Inspiration Sites
Listen – the most important thing you can do to improve your art (any art) is to get inspired by others. You need to be a consumer and lover of art by others. The more you consume, the better your creations will be. Get inspired and then innovate. Plus, it’s fun. Here are some places to get started:
- ffffound (really well curated image bookmarking site)
- behance (just browse the featured projects for endless inspiration)
- butdoesitfloat (a personal favorite with a lot of unique ideas)
- nonsensesociety.net (our community gallery! updated often with work by you guys)
- dribbble (for design, but still very helpful – see tip #4!)
3. Photoshop Curves
Photoshop curves are a very easy and effective way to give your photos a little “pop” and personality. If you don’t have Photoshop you can try Pixlr online for free. You can see their popularity as programs and apps like Instagram appear with built-in curves, actions, filters, textures, etc. I’ve noticed that some of the up-and-coming photography stars are easily recognizable by the tones they use in their photos. It’s kind of like a signature that sets them apart. In many cases this is done using Photoshop curves. Here’s how you use them (this is not meant to be a curve tutorial, so I’m going to assume you know how to use Photoshop already):
- Open your photo in Photoshop.
- Add curves as Adjustment Layers over the photograph (this lets you adjust the opacity of each layer, giving you more control and customization).
- Play around with the curve editor until you get a feel that works for your photo (if you’ve added the curve as it’s own layer you can adjust the opacity later so it’s not as intense). Remember to use the drop-down menu and adjust the reds, greens, and blues individually.
- Alternatively – You’ll probably want to look at existing curves so you can learn. You can also mix and match existing curves to create your own unique combination. Here are some places to download curves:
- Julia Trotti – She’s a Nonsense Society member who gives away free curves every Friday! She’s super nice too.
- Alexandra Sophie – Another Nonsense Society member who gives away curves from time to time. She’s also super nice!
- The Color Shop – by Nonsense Society member Nirrimi Hakansan. She has a very popular curves/actions shop and is very cool.
4. Learn About Design
Every good photographer should know elements of design. Whether it’s to add a classy signature to your work, utilize photo-manipulation, add texture to photos, or create design elements for your clients – it’s important. You don’t want to be a one-trick-pony. You want to be an eclectic powerhouse of creativity. Here are some places to start:
- Dafont – Get awesome fonts/typefaces for free.
- Brusheezy – Get free Photoshop brushes
- Zen Textures – 100s of free textures
- Design Tutorials – Do tons online for free!
5. Social Media Is Your Best Friend
For the love of god, get out there! Be a part of the community that you want to love you. Spread your work around the Internet (intelligently). This is so important! Otherwise you are like an artist hanging her/his paintings in their house and pouting that the local museum hasn’t approached them. The Internet isn’t magic. You have to take action and have fun with it. I wrote a whole article a while back on how to do this! Read that and get started.
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Banner photo by NS member Nicolas Polli