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5 skill-building photography exercises to train your eye How to train your eye and improve your photographs!

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People gain photography skills through practice, and if you are a student learning the arts of photography, you might be given weekly photography assignments to amp your skill. But no matter if you are a beginner or are a professional in the photography world, these exercises are ones for anyone to do.

It is vital to do different skill-building photography exercises, no matter the skill-set you have. The reason for this is because it doesn’t matter how long a person has been in the photography world – there is always something for them to learn. As the saying goes – every day is a school day.

In this blog, we will look into five photography exercises that work.

 

1. Recreate some else’s photos

In life, many of us will look at another person’s work and wonder how on earth did this person think of this idea. People often do this when they see a piece of artist work, read a book or listen to music. 

If a person struggles to find an idea of what to photograph, then look at other pieces of work from different photographers. The key to this skill-building photography exercise is not to make an exact replica of the photo but to get a photographer to think in ways they haven’t considered previously.

For example, if a person was recreating a simple coffee mug that has a pen leaning against the handle, they might take it from a bird’s eye view. However, the photographer they are copying could have taken this photo differently. This exercise can teach a photographer that perspective is very different from each person. 

 

Photography Skills

 

2. Weekly photo challenges

If you are looking for a photography activity for adults who have been photographing for years, then this could be a skill-building exercise for you. Sometimes life can feel repetitive, especially if you’ve been focusing on one thing. For example, a portrait photographer focuses on the person, but as years go by, the set-up most likely will be the same, meaning that the type of portraits this photographer takes might not differ from one to the next. Repetition can result in a person losing their creativity. 

This is why weekly photo challenges are a fantastic photography exercise that works. These are very popular to find online – the key to this challenge is to take 52 photos over the course of the year – a photo per week. 

This skill-building photography exercise is ideal for a photographer to step out of their comfort zone and photograph something new. Doing this can open a photographer’s eye to see how different areas of photography, such as urban photography, can affect their portrait photography career. 

 

3. Hula-Hoop photo walks

Unfortunately, we do not mean to go on a walk and eat a packet of Hula Hoops as you take photos of the landscape. In fact, this outdoor photography exercise is excellent for students to do, especially if they don’t know where to start. Although it’s great to know that creativity is the meaning of endless possibilities, it can sometimes seem a bit daunting. This is why in some cases, creativity needs its limits to allow people to grow. 

For this skill-building photography exercise, a photographer will not only need their camera but also a hula-hoop. Step outside and throw the hula-hoop randomly, wait until it stops and then stand inside it. Once you has stepped in, proceed to snap at least ten photos of the scenery from that point. 

This task trains the photographer’s eye to see the magic in everything, to witness the world differently than they did before and capture it for other people to see. 

 

4. Crop someone else’s photos

To become an impressive photographer begins with the eye, meaning a person should be able to develop their photographic eye without using a camera. An ideal photography exercise for students is using someone else’s photos and edit them. Firstly, students should learn the basic rules of photo compositions. An ideal place to start is with the rule of thirds – this is when the subject is positioned on the right or the left of the photo with the other 2/3s to one side. 

While learning, using Photoshop is ideal but there are many free alternatives such as Pixlr. Download images to your computer – start with some portraits – and then upload them to your photo editing suite. Once that is all done, it’s time to experiment. Crop a vertical photo horizontally, move the subject around – and most importantly – be creative. 

This skill-building photography exercise is for you to see how different crops can give a photo a different feel and look. 

 

Skills in photography

 

5. Shoot 10 photos with one subject

A common mistake that many photographers make is always taking photos from the same height (elevation). Although this mistake happens more with students, this can still happen to anyone who has been in photography for years. This skill-building photography exercise will help teach the newbies and remind the older photographers of their sense of angles. 

To do this activity, a photographer will need to find a subject – it can be anything they want it to be. If you don’t know what your focus should be, close your eyes, turn around twice, open your eyes – whatever you are looking at is now your subject. Once that is done, it’s time for the photoshoot. Remember, no two photos should look alike, shift the angle, get down onto your stomach, or stand up on a chair – make sure all the pictures look different. Take 10 different photos of the subject and be creative!


These five photography exercises are a perfect start point for photographers to practice their skill-building. Whenever you feel that your photos aren’t as great as you want them to be, do one of these exercises to start to retrain your photographic eye.