7 Tips To Instantly Improve Your Photography Skills

A photo can speak a thousand words. A great photo can speak a million.

Over time, even the best memories fade. But a photograph can last a lifetime. This is the ultimate reason we dived into photography, to have a constant reminder of our adventures and favourite moments.

It grew from there into a passion, and with a growing portfolio I am proud to look back on, I can honestly say I would be lost without photography. But it took more than a couple of snaps for me to become proud of my work. I took the time to learn and experiment with my camera to find what works best. And through this, I have come up with my ultimate list of tips to improve your photography skills.

Beatiful waterfall flowing in Cradle Mountain National Park using an ND filter

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How To Improve Photography Skills

There’s no question about it, the best way to become a skilled photographer is through practice. But practice alone isn’t enough, you need a sound foundation of knowledge that will guide you along the path to greatness.

A knowledge base that builds on the fundamentals of photography.

Once you have that knowledge, you can expand your photography techniques by watching and learning from all walks of life. Don’t shelter yourself to one niche, get creative!

So how do you find that creativity and nail the shot?

  • Find a different angle
  • Nail the focus
  • Create depth
  • Learn your camera
  • Get the lighting right
  • Use a tripod
  • Learn how to post process an image

By practising and utilising these 7 tips, I promise you will instantly improve your photography skills.

Let’s take a closer look…

Photography Skills to capture the epic orange moon rise at Beerbarrel beach in St Helens Tasmania

Bonus Tip: Set yourself up with the correct photography equipment. I’m a big believer in skill and creativity over gear, but not having the right tools for the job is a mistake I see people make time and time again.

Here’s a peak inside my camera bag to help inspire your creative needs.

1. Find A Different Photography Composition

Photography has blown up in massive proportions over the last decade. And with the camera technology making things almost easy, you need to find another way to stand out amongst the masses.

The perfect angle of a shot can produce so much meaning. Even the most subtle difference can make or break a photo.

And that’s why composition is everything in photography.

Creating a unique angle on an over photographed landscape is going to catch your viewers’ eye, making them stop and scroll back for a second glimpse at your masterpiece.

Don’t Take The Same Photo As Everyone Else!

Landscape Print of sunrise of the Gordon Wild Rivers National Park from the Summit of Frenchman's Cap in Tasmania

Feeling inspired by the imagery throughout these pages? You haven’t seen anything yet.

Visit our Print Shop to bring these inspiring landscapes to your home.

Try and shoot from a different perspective. It’s easy to find and recreate the epic shots of Instagram. But not so easy to set the trend. And the only way you’re going to achieve this is by trying new and different ideas.

Your new and unique take on photography composition will not only spark well with the crowd, but it will also help to teach you what angles work best and the limitations of your camera gear. Limitations such as dynamic range or low light performance.

To become a better photographer you need to broaden your horizon and create your own style.

There are countless opportunities for a cracking photo, all it takes is an ounce of creativity and the world is your oyster.

Looking over the moody valley at The Thumbs from the summit of The Needles in Tasmania

2. Nail The Focus In Photography

There’s nothing worse than shooting the perfect composition, only to find you’ve missed the focus. Missing the focus or focusing on the wrong subject can be a killer for your photo.

The idea of a great photo is to create a story and without perfect focus, you could never expect others to follow along. A stand-out photo will draw the crowds’ attention to a particular point of interest.

To achieve perfect photography focus, you must begin with a clear idea of your intended story and come up with a foolproof plan to execute it with precision. This means understanding the most important part of the photo and how to draw focus to that exact spot.

Once you’ve figured out the plan, it all comes down to the camera itself. Getting the settings right for the conditions you’re shooting in is paramount.

Focusing perfectly will no doubt improve your photography skills, but this is sometimes easier said than done…

Great photography skills for sharp focus of a mountain biker whipping over a jump in Blue Derby

Photography Skills To Help You Nail Focus

  • Focus on the correct subject of your shot – Ensure your focus point is the highlight of your photo and nothing is distracting your viewers. Whether you choose to blur the foreground and focus on the background or vice versa, be sure to have that decision made and mastered beforehand.
  • Set the correct focus mode – Most cameras nowadays are equipped with one-shot autofocus and servo autofocus. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of it, one-Shot AF is perfect for stationary subjects such as portraits or landscapes, whereas servo AF is used for moving subjects like sports and wildlife photography.
  • Ensure Your Shutter Speed Is Fast Enough – Make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze your subject and stop camera shake when shooting handheld. If the shutter speed is set too low, motion blur will be introduced to your entire photo. This can be a cool effect… if it was your plan!
  • Use Auto Focus – Camera technology has come a long way over the years and autofocus systems have become super accurate and fast. If you haven’t already made the switch from manual focus, you should. Get to know your camera’s autofocus system.
  • Use Single Point Auto Focus – Take complete control of where your camera focuses by setting an individual point of focus. I use this function for 90% of my shots, even now that I have the ability to shoot with the superior face and eye detect featured on the Canon R6.
  • Track Moving Subjects – By tracking the moving subject – keeping the subject in the focus point – you’ll increase your chance of capturing a crisp shot. If you keep the camera still and wait for the subject to appear in the focus point, you’re relying too heavily on the speed of your autofocus system. As good as they are, most don’t work this quickly. This photography technique isn’t easy to master, but you will achieve much better results.
  • Fine Tune Your Focus – After you set your focus, zoom in on your display and double-check the accuracy. If it is spot on in focus, you’re good to go. But if it is slightly out, make small manual adjustments to nail that focus perfectly. With higher quality lenses, you can make these small manual adjustments to your autofocus via the focus ring. It could look perfectly focused on the small viewing screen, but once you transfer the image to your computer, imperfections stand out.
  • Manual Focus In Low Light – Unfortunately, technology isn’t foolproof and unless you have a pro-level camera, autofocus systems require enough light to focus accurately. For these dark shots, it is necessary to revert to old-school methods and manually nail the shot. Using the fine-tuning method above, you should be more than capable of producing crisp landscapes.
Epic Milky Way using the Move Shoot Move Star Stracker to create a detailed exposure

3. Create Depth In The Image

Creating depth in an image adds character to a photo. It has a way of letting you feel as if you’re there, living the moment with the photographer. As if you’re the one behind the lens.

Depth creates a sense of layers that portray a 3D effect. This gives an idea of distance and size, putting the photo into perspective. Or alternatively, letting you completely mess with perspective.

It’s in these techniques and manipulations of perspective that allows a photographer to create an unreal effect from a real situation.

But creating depth means understanding some basic camera principles.

Hiking up the well groomed trail of Mount Eliza Tasmania using photography skills to create depth

How to create Depth In A Photo

  • Open Your Aperture – As a general rule – the wider you open the aperture, the shallower your depth of field will be. In other words, the lower F stop numbers equal more depth to your image.
  • Zoom In – Zooming in gives the same depth effect as opening the aperture. The further zoomed in your lens is, the narrower the depth of field becomes. If you don’t have a zoom lens, physically move the camera closer to your subject to introduce the same effect.
  • Introduce Foreground – By moving further away from the subject and introducing foreground, you add an extra element to the photograph. This technique works particularly well with a telephoto lens as you can move further away and add extra depth to your image.
  • Get Creative – Use natural objects such as a tree or branch to add more to your photo. Not only can it introduce more depth, but it can also add more emphasis on your subject when used correctly.

4. Learn Your Camera

Have you ever sat down and read the entire manual that comes with a shiny new toy?

No? Me neither and I’m certainly not about to tell you to start now.

What I will tell you to do is get close and personal with your camera. Learn the ins and outs, learn what each button does and why. Become familiar with the settings and the effects each change will make to your shots.


No two moments are the same. Meaning no two photos can be the same. You need to know how to adjust your settings for each individual situation. But more than that, scenes can change in a millisecond and if you know your camera, you can quickly adapt to capture the perfect shot.

So how can you reach this level of intimacy with your camera??

Simply get out and shoot more. Try new things and experiment with different settings to learn what works best in each situation. The worst thing you can do for your budding photography career is to stick to auto mode. Auto limits your capabilities massively and will stunt your growth to becoming a better photographer.

You need to test the waters. Learn how to control exposure, find the right focus setting for each situation. And if you’re struggling in a certain aspect of photography, change something!

Shooting photos at the summit of Mt Victoria while discussing photography skills with Candace

5. Manipulate Light To Your Advantage

Lighting is a tricky one, it can make or break a photo. You could be in the best location and have everything set perfectly, but if the lighting is off it can ruin your shot entirely.

It all comes down to detail, composing with the correct lighting brings the photo alive. When manipulated properly, the lighting will set the mood and place strong emphasis on the subject, creating a sense of yearning and awe.

But when the lighting doesn’t play nice, it can cause detrimental effects. Shadows cast over the subject, a blown-out sky, or an extremely underexposed image can hardly be rectified.

You may think that bright blue skies will provide the ultimate photo but, in actual fact, that is one of the worst times to shoot. The intensity of the sun, especially in the middle of the day, will remove colour, contrast, and create unwanted shadows – three of the worst things that could happen to a photo!

Though it’s more than just the time of day – it’s the angle, the setup, the planning of how you’re going to use the light to your advantage.

An epic sunset over Wilkinsons Creek Valley at the base of Mt Kosciuszko while embarking on the Hannels Spur Hike

How Can You Manipulate Light To Better Your Photography Skills?

  • Choose The Right Time Of Day – I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the best shots are generally taken in the wee hours of the morning or later in the evening. These hours are called the golden hour and blue hour. The golden hour takes place just before sunset and sunrise. Whereas the blue hour takes place just before the golden hour at sunrise and after sunset. The golden hour provides beautiful soft pastel colours that will undoubtedly improve the scene. And the blue hour creates a similar effect for night photography. The app PhotoPills is a great tool to help you plan your missions.
  • Use Artificial Light – Artificial light is widely used in portrait and product photography, but should be adapted into every style. Finding the right natural light is sometimes impossible and to get the final result you’re after, some extra help is required. Artificial lighting ranges from external flashes to solid lighting and depending on what you’re shooting will determine what you need. But don’t underestimate the benefits of artificial lighting in landscape and sports photography. Brightening the scene allows you to emphasise your subject and capture a crisp shot.
  • Use A Filter – There are many different types of filters, each with a specific purpose and a unique ability to manipulate light. Whether your intention is to add contrast to a scene or reduce the shutter speed for a dramatic effect, there’s a filter out there to help you. My favourite – and the most common – is the ND filter. This bad boy reduces light allowing me to take long exposures in bright conditions. There are many other filters on the market and this post will help you to understand which is best for you.
  • Use The Histogram – The histogram is the funny little graph you can display on your camera’s LCD and most take it for granted. This powerful little tool indicates how the lighting is exposed in your shot and using it can take out the human error. It can show whether the highlights are blown out or the shadows are too dark to bring back to life. A well-balanced histogram will result in a well-balanced photo.

Learn how to expose the shot correctly and what settings you should fiddle with to fine-tune your exposure. Remember, practice makes perfect! And with the above photography tips, you should be able to nail the lighting in most scenarios… remembering we’re only human!

Cooking dinner while alpine camping in the mountains in Kosciuszko National Park

6. Learn How To Use A Tripod

Trust me, a tripod will improve your photography skills as you’ve never imagined. Have you ever tried to hold a 2 – 3kg object completely still for 20 seconds?

It’s impossible.

A tripod allows you to maintain complete stability, taking away any handshake while shooting those long exposures. This stability also helps to keep those action shots crisp and your videography on point.

Now a tripod may seem a burden. The added weight is not desirable and the setup can be much longer, but in some cases, it’s a blessing. While you’re taking the time to set up properly, you can stop to take in the entire scene and really think about what you want to achieve.

Along with long exposures, a tripod is your best tool for low-light photography. In some circumstances, there is only a small amount of light that will reach your camera’s sensor and it’s much better to slow your shutter speed than up the ISO. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, have a read about the exposure triangle.

Utilising tripod photography, there is just so much more opportunity for increased creativity.

Everything we’ve talked about so far is to do with long exposures, but that’s not the only trick a tripod has to offer. By keeping the camera completely still, you are able to introduce new advanced techniques such as focus stacking, exposure blending, and panoramas.

Using a Tripod to shoot the alpen glow in the mountains at sunrise

7. Learn How To Post Process An Image

Let’s back up a little. Remember when I told you to get out of auto mode? This is the same deal. While technology has come a long way and new-age cameras can produce a cracking image straight from the sensor, there is still something lacking…

It’s those human touches, the passion, the idea, and the feeling that brings an image to life. This is something a camera can never create.

When it really comes down to it, a camera will never see exactly as we do. To make a photo truly inspiring and life-like, you need to edit it manually. And to give your editing skills all the best tools to work with, you need to shoot in raw.

Shooting in raw improves dynamic range and massively increases the amount of information captured, making photo manipulation a whole lot easier. However, with a raw image, you must post-process with software such as Adobe’s photography tools to get the effect you’re searching for. The raw image straight out of the camera will lack contrast and colour.

Familiarising yourself with tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom will change your life. Or at least life through the lens.

Great photography is all in the detail, even the most subtle changes can make a world of difference.

Using my photography editing skills to create mood in Solitary Confinement chamber in Port Arthur

Summing Up These Photography Skills And Techniques

If your dream is to improve your photography skills, nothing should stop you from reaching your goals. And I will say it again, the best advice I can give is for you to get out there and take photos. There is only so far researching can get you before all you can do is use your damn camera!

There’s really is nothing better than practice, but also keeping a conscious thought of what you’re trying to achieve will no doubt improve your photography skills and techniques. Stay true to your style and constantly remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Be patient.

Never lose that passion.

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