There is a lot to be said for learning photography in the digital age and one of the great advantages is that it costs nothing to take a bunch of extra shots.
In the days of film you would have been restricted in your output based upon your budget.
Film and processing costs quite literally forced photographers to get good fast, go broke or give up.
These days its a different story. Shooting a multitude of extra shots may very well get you the shot exactly how you want it but doing it mindlessly will teach you nothing.
So by all means take advantage of the freedom offered by digital photography but at the same time note what you are doing and note the different outcomes you are achieving as you do them to improve your skills.
Start your photographic adventures by shooting people you are familiar with, places you know well and things you are passionate about.
Persist with this process until your work begins the reflect your natural affinity for the people and things you love.
A pro can literally make an image of paint drying seem appealing… but that’s because they are pro’s!
Eventually you will become more technically and artistically proficient at representing things you like in way that makes them interesting to others.
The final step is bringing it all together so that you can take a shot of something you are not that interested in personally but… CAN make it interesting to others.
You never know when something is going to happen so have a camera with you at all times.
Success at really getting good at photography is the idea of creating within your own mindset the viewpoint of always “being on.”
By that I mean always being aware of the world around you and opportunities within it for getting that great shot.
Of course sharpening your observation and “seeing” your environment as a photo is all rather pointless if you don’t have a camera with you!
When photographing men in formal surroundings tell them what to do with their hands and no I don’t just mean keep them to themselves!
Most guys can deal reasonably well with how to act or behave in a formal setting such as a wedding, party or even corporate event.
Of course there will always be exceptions and that’s why wedding planners have “that table” way up the back of the room!
What most men have great difficulty with is posing formally for photographs within those types of settings.
As the photographer in situations such as those you hardly have time to spend hours working with them to get a pose that conveys some sort of natural ease.
In the absence of clear directions a sort of nervous hysteria will begin to set in resulting in them either striking some kind of silly pose or worse still, reverting to Neanderthal behavior and scratching their nether regions.
The quickest way to get good shots is to at least tell them where you want them to place their hands.
Generally speaking if you can get their hands handled for them, the rest will fall into place.
Shoot Often and Keep Shooting.
Cartier Bresson was the king of candid photography.
He would sometimes scout a location for days before he even took a shot.
You may not have the time or inclination to do that but what you can do is look around to observe your environment and thanks to digital cameras, take a mountain of shots.
Persist, you will strike gold eventually.
Try to use photo editing software as rarely as possible until you have a clear understanding of the abilities and limitations of your camera.
Although there are always things you can do to improve or even save a shot in software it can lull you into a kind of laziness with the act of photographing itself.
The final result of this will be a stunting in your development as a photographer (although you will probably get pretty good with the software!) and ultimately you will hit the wall creatively.
You will find yourself unable to really “get” that shot you want because you haven’t progressed technically or creatively with the camera in the first instance.
Spend time studying the species and habitat you’re shooting.
Especially Kids, they Move Around a Lot!
Try to visualize the shot or type of shot you want to get.
Then observe your prey carefully within it’s natural environment.
When the time is right… fire!
If you miss, pretend to your quarry that you got the shot you wanted and lull them back into a false sense of security.
Begin the stalking again.