The most vital things that you will need to become a skilled photographer are a good eye and a decent camera. Though, truthfully, even if your camera is only half-decent, having a decent eye for framing your shots is still most important. But that’s only step numero uno. Your eye alone can’t do the work and you’ll have to familiarise yourself with whichever camera you’ve gotten your hands on. And as cliché as it may sound: practice makes perfect. The only way to truly elevate your skills is to go out with your camera and shoot, shoot, and shoot again. Still, you can be very strategic about where you decide to practice. Better locations can help you improve your skills a bit faster than usual. Curious to know about the best places to practice your photography skills, no matter where you live? Keep on reading or watch and listen to this article in video format.
If you want to get better at minimalist photography, markets might not be your best bet. But if you’re simply looking to challenge yourself with a rich palette of shapes and colours, any local market is a perfect practice ground. Actually, It might be the very best place to practice photography skills for beginners, since the ongoing hustle and bustle ensures plenty of photo opportunities for an extended period of time. I always feel like markets, especially but not exclusively in historic cities, are almost like paintings come to life. All those fruits, vegetables, flowers, and people fuse together to form a visual spectacle. Start looking for the right combinations and compositions in the chaos of products and people. Gradually, you’ll train your eye to spot the exceptional scenes amidst the madness.
If you’re more into nature photography or don’t live in a bigger town, forests are another great option to practice your photography skills. Why? You’ll benefit from multiple factors that challenge your technical skills: consistently shifting lights and shadows (including low-light conditions), changing weather coditions and seasonal changes, as well as fast-paced and sometimes evasive wildlife. Forests can be enchanting, beautiful and peaceful at the same time. But it can also be challenging to translate the beauty of forests into a single photo. I genuinely think forests and mountains are the best places to practice photography when it comes to your technique. Read my 10 essential forest photography tips to step up your vision and technical know-how.
Trying your hand at a little bit of street photography is never a bad idea. Head to a busy part of town. Give yourself some time to find the right angles and combine those perspectives with interesting characters that will keep on passing by. It’s a fun challenge to combine a city’s typically urban features (tall buildings, street art, trams and buses etc.) with the art of people-watching. The clothes people wear, the objects they are carrying and their facial expressions can hugely influence the vibe of your photo. The next step is to turn that watching into capturing: try to shoot a mesmerising shot that tells a story about the city, as well as its people.
Little red bridge in a Japanese Garden A bridge in central Amsterdam
Bridges might not seem like the most straightforward places to practice your photography, but don’t underestimate the simplest of structures! I always manage to get some very interesting shots when I practice a bit of patience and stay near a bridge for a while. Just make sure that it’s a safe situation. Think about it; a bridge inherently combines several factors that will bring your photo to life. The bridge itself, no matter how simple, adds a ‘human’ or sometimes even architectural touch to your photo. Then there are also always two different, opposing sides and you’ll often find a stream or river passing through (attracting boats and birds). In busier places, cars and cyclists might be crossing the bridge, adding another dynamic layer to the scene. In short: plenty of shifting source material to take all kinds of shots at one single location.
Train stations are another type of ‘watering hole’ for photographers. Here, you’ll know for sure that there will be plenty of people and activity going on. The element of travel or the idea of the ‘journey’ – trains, suitcases, couples saying goodbye – is a big storytelling bonus here, since it’s an easy way to incude both movement and emotion in your shots. Bigger stations are often housed in incredible buildings with unique architectural styles. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a grand and historic style or geometric and contemporary. That’s why train stations are also perfect to experiment with lines and angles. It’ll be hard to take a boring shot.
Lakes and Ponds
Lastly, lakes and ponds, or generally any reflective bodies of water, are fantastic locations to practice your photography skills. The mirror-like quality of a lake or pond is a sure-fire element to easily add extra dimension to your photo. Try to time your practice session around sunrise or sunset. This is when the light and colours are usually most dramatic and you’ll have a better chance of mist. Conveniently, wildlife lovers will know those are also the times when any potential animals that frequent the lake tend to be more active.
Looking for more photography tips and inspiration? Check out all of my articles about photography here.