While many of us have become used to (or reliant upon) shooting with a zoom lens – there’s something about shooting with a prime lens (fixed focal length) that makes you think about the composition of your shots a little more. So choose a focal length that you don’t shoot at much and stick with it for a week and see how you go (and if you don’t have a prime lens to do this with – use your zoom but simply stick at one end of its range for a week).
Variation: another option for this is to choose a lens that you may not have used much before. Many photographers buy multiple lenses but then stick with one, ignoring others. Alternatively swap lenses with a friend for a week or even try renting one for a short period.
2. The 1 Roll Rule
Shooting heaps of shots is easy to do. It doesn’t really cost you anything (although fills up hard drives pretty quick) and some might think it increases your chance of capturing the perfect moment. The problem is that when you rely upon the quantity of your shots to improve the quality of your images that you can easily become lazy and complacent. Here’s a challenge – next time you go out on a shoot – limit yourself to 36 shots (the number in a roll of film). In doing so you’ll find yourself really thinking about your shots. You’ll time them better and make sure each shot counts!
3. Turn Off the Live Preview/Review
Speaking of old school film photography – do you remember that feeling when you got to the end of shooting a roll of film and wondering how your shots would turn out? You’d put the film in for processing and wait a week or so for them to be ready and then go to the photo lab with anticipation… rip open the package and go through them one by one – reliving the moments you captured a week or so ago?
Digital photography gives you instant access to the images you take – but sometimes by having that little screen on the back of your cameras, you might be missing something from the experience of photography. There are certainly advantages of being able to quickly review your shots or compose them on a larger screen.
You'll also find yourself looking at your camera a whole lot more than you're looking at the scene in front of you and wonder if some of the joy of the moment could be lost. So try this – turn off your LCD screen. Some cameras let you do this in your settings while others might take a little self discipline.
4. Manual Focus
Just thinking about your focus rather than relying upon those auto focal points your camera has puts you in a different frame of mind. So switch to Manual Focusing and see what impact it has on your photography!
5. Limit Yourself to an Aperture
Try shooting portrait with a smaller aperture and add more on focused backgrounds to give your subjects context especially with environmental portraits. Doing this can make you more thoughtful with your shots and can help expand the possibilities of styles at your fingertips when shooting.