How to take your photography to the next level

'The next level'. I don't know how many times I've heard that phrase, but it's a lot. Double figures, easily. I've heard it more times than I've had hot dinners that involved squirrels, for example.

"This course will take your photography to the next level..."

"All you need is this camera to take your photography to the next level..."

"Are the photography books on the next level?..."

And so on. So where is this 'next level'?  Who's on it, what's the weather like and how do I get there?

It makes no sense of course. There are no levels. You can't get a black-belt in photography by beating Joe McNally in a winner-takes-all portrait contest. You can't pass your grade 8 photography exam by producing an HDR image that doesn't look radioactive or by taking a photo that conforms exactly to the rule of thirds. Sure, there are some qualifications now, but it's not the certificate that improves your photography.

We practise, we get better, we make mistakes, we learn, we get better. Sometimes we just run out of ideas and get stuck. But we keep trying.

A few suggestions

- Look at other photographers work.

- Try a personal project.Find stuff you really like, and decide why you like. Pick a theme or a title and purposefully seek to make images that contribute to it.

- Slow down. Take less photos but take more time over each one.

- Take some training. There are loads of courses out there, online and in person. Just check out the work of the instructor before you sign up.

- Keep practising.

Coming soon

Maybe it's a more technical aspect of photography that holds you back. It did for me for a while. I'm going to writing a few posts soon to talk about some of the fundamental aspects of photography and the annoying jargon that goes with it. Photography Simplified.