grace costa photographer, Canberra


Do you look at other photographers’ work and think ” how did they get so good at photography?’ I wish I could make work at that level! I used to think like that and now I realize, each photographer just puts in the work, they do the 10,000 hours, they practice and they learn from the ‘making process’. But let me mention this one more important thing I realised along my journey, professional photographers still make mistakes!

So today I’ve put together some useful tips to help you reach the next increment in your journey to becoming a better photographer who produces thought-provoking, engaging, and technically strong work. And maybe even get you on the path to winning photo awards. (check out my mega list here)

So here are my tips for helping you become a better photographer.

Grace Costa reviews

1. Critique Are you getting your work critiqued? When was the last time you invited a fellow photographer to look at your work and tell you their thoughts? I suggest each time you do a shoot, select 3 of your favorite images to send to a photographer in your network and ask for honest and kind feedback. It will help you over time the more critique you get. You’ll learn what mistakes you make in your framing, maybe they will suggest a different editing. I host live photo critique sessions throughout the year so sign up to my mailing list to be notified on the March event.

2. Try something new A new lens, a new angle, bring in a flash, a different modifier, a new camera angle. When you do this, your imagination opens up to your ‘explore mode’ and when you are in that mode you are free to create and get into the flow of exploration just for the fun of it.

3. Looking in new places means looking outside the photography industry. I used to attend Semi-Permanent Conference it’s a festival for creativity and design and I loved it! It opened my eyes to bigger ideas and concepts of how stories were told through other avenues outside of traditional photo imaging. So find what else you might be interested in and follow the trail. Think fashion, art exhibitions, movies, plays etc. Anything other than photography.

4. Keep practicing all the time, in all situations. Becoming a master in your craft takes heaps and heaps of hours. It takes problems solving, and different experiences during shoots where you might have limitations. That’s where you build your toolbox and become a photographer who can make awesome images in crappy situations no matter what is thrown at them.

5. Look at other photographers’ work My husband always says to me, if you want to be a better speller, read more books. I think I learned how to be a better corporate photographer from seeing advertising images all around me. Over the years it sunk into my brain how to craft these types of images and make them look natural.  Nobody even taught me how to do it specifically, I learned from studying images around me. You can see new techniques you want to try out for yourself, maybe even copy a storyline that interests you as well. You would never plagiarise someone’s work, but you can copy some of the styles, or try out the filter

6. Professional Development

I have and continue to spend many hours dedicated to my professional learning. I was lucky enough in my previous roles that my employer paid for my training so I could afford to do a lot of it. I attended conferences like Depth of Field Conference, Aperture, and Refocus Retreat, where I was a guest speaker and mentor, and Nikon Events as well. I also did online training with Creative Live. Please do yourself a favour and check out Creative Live, it is so good with a massive variety of classes! Look at Adobe training and Udemy as well.

Another way you can develop yourself as a photographer is to pay for mentoring sessions. The benefit of private sessions is your classes can be customised to your needs without having to waste time with class members who are not at your level or want to learn what you want to learn. I teach lighting techniques a lot because people just want to learn that aspect in their workflow. If you need help with editing, consider a private session to learn that so you can have all your questions answered. If you are interested in working with me get in touch I do face-to-face classes in Canberra Australia all year round and you can pay as you go so there is no long-term commitment.

How about something more fun, watching photography documentaries, I have not necessarily learned technical things from docos but I have been inspired and learned how other photographers create work and develop their passion in photography.

Here is my shortlist for photography documentaries:

  • Bill Cunningham New York
  • Annie Leibovitz
  • War Photographer
  • Finding Vivian Maier

I hope this has helped you become more motivated to level up and take your passion to the next level. If you’d like to connect and book a mentoring session, get in touch here. If you’d like to hear the full episode on this topic head straight to the podcast