Getting Better at Photography While at Home


Despite much of the photography world being on pause right now, it’s also as good a time as ever to be honing your craft. Much in the same way an athlete trains for their particular discipline, photographers need to train, too, but likely not by lifting weights and working out. Think of it as mental strength training, or simply just practicing, acquiring inspiration, learning techniques, and spending more time with your work. Here are some tips on sparking some new creative impulses or ideas for improving your photography practice.

Find Something to Look Forward to

Begin planning your next photography adventure. Whether it’s a trip to a foreign country, a road trip somewhere, or even just a walk around your town, start planning your next big shoot. Besides learning to overcome logistical hurdles in advance, this also helps to boost morale by giving you something concrete to which you can look forward. This process could be as simple as hand-writing a list of things to see or as complex as building a custom Google map with tagged photo ops, restaurants and cafes, and places to stay overnight. If you have the time, I’d recommend getting as specific and complex as possible just to pique your excitement that much more.

Clean Your Gear

We’ve been writing article after article after article about cleaning your photo gear, or just getting it in shape for your next outing, and there’s a reason we keep emphasizing this point... it’s important! If you’re not actively shooting much right now, just take the plunge and clean your gear. Much in the way it feels nice to have a freshly cleaned kitchen or bathroom, even though you hate cleaning it, the feeling will be the same with refreshed camera gear.

Read Theory

Or try it, at least. Critical theory may not be for everyone, but in many cases, it will get you thinking about why you are photographing, which can lead to developing more clarity in your work and approach to working. Cory Rice has put together a quick introduction, Getting Started with Photo Theory, that highlights some seminal texts, as well as a more focused dive on Barthes and a resource guide on binging on photo history online. And to get away from the pure theory and into more classic and educational texts, check out Jill Waterman’s guide to photo books at B&H.

As for my own recommendations, I’m a fan of the classics, like The Daybooks of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams’s The Camera, The Negative, and The Print, but am also partial to some more contemporary texts, such as Nicholas Muellner’s Lacuna Park: Essays and Other Adventures in Photography, Hervé Guibert’s Ghost Image, and Vilem Flusser’s Towards a Philosophy of Photography.

Little Brown Book: Ansel Adams - The Camera
Little Brown Book: Ansel Adams - The Camera

Look at Photography

Especially if you’re someone who doesn’t actively spend time perusing other photographers’ work, take some time to see what your peers are up to. And take time to see what the masters, or those who you look up to, are working on. If you’re a photobook collector, spend time looking through your library at the books you haven’t seen in a while. Also, take note that much of the art world has moved over to virtual exhibitions, and you can take a look at some fine art galleries and museum collections online now.

Teach Photography

You’d be surprised how much you can learn from teaching someone else the basics of photography, as it requires you to dig a bit to remember how certain things are done and how best to explain things you may take for granted. If you have a partner, spouse, child, parent, roommate, or someone else staying with you at home, who isn’t also a photographer, see if you can share some of the basics of shooting with them. Talk basics of exposure, basics of editing on a computer, how to use all of the controls on your camera, or even just talk about photo theory and pictures themselves if you want to get away from an overly technical conversation. No matter the subjects, it will be beneficial to just have an honest conversation about photography. And if you need a little help getting started with a lesson plan, check out my articles on Learning Photography with Pinhole and Toy Cameras and on working with Traditional Photography Processes at Home.

Take Online Classes

And attend online talks and lectures. With academia moving to at-home programming, many universities and institutions are making their scheduled lectures and educational programming available to the public over Zoom or on YouTube afterward. Lectures from the likes of Aperture, Yale Photo, 10x10 Photobooks, and more are catering to the fine art world but are still highly applicable to other genres of photography. Also, get lost in a YouTube hole of photo lectures, artist talks, how-to videos, and more.


Yes, continue making photographs. Especially if you’re the type of photographer who tends only to photograph landscapes or while traveling. In this time, it’s a great time to take on something new and strengthen your core skill set, even if it’s a method of shooting you don’t see yourself using in the future. You’d be surprised how some tabletop or still life shooting methods could benefit your landscape shooting, and how working in a domestic setting can inform your travel photography practice. I wrote a 13 Creative Exercises for Photographers at Home article for some jumping-off points, but it’s equally useful to just begin working on a project or series of images in a method you don’t commonly use (i.e. macro, portraiture, or still life).


If you’ve already shot, or don’t want to shoot while at home, then it’s equally as important to use this time to edit your work. I’ve already written about editing and sequencing your photos, as well as the more pragmatic topic of editing your photos using Photoshop but, in either case, the important part is to spend time with your work. Especially in a time when prints and physicality of photographs is rare, it’s key to spend time looking at and reviewing your photographs. It’s all too common to dump your memory cards onto drives after shooting and give the images a once-over to cull the highlights of a shoot. Many, many images may never again be seen... go back through some old catalogs and take another look at those unseen photos.


And, finally, print! Similar to editing, printing is a great way to get more involved with the work you’ve already produced. In many cases, printing a photograph, compared to just viewing it on a screen, can breathe new light into the image. Conversely, printing out small versions of your images for editing purposes is also a great practice to get in the habit of doing. And, if you’re working up to printing a portfolio or some final prints, take a look at Shawn Steiner’s At-Home Photo Printing Tips to help get your printing process perfected.

What are some educational resources that you’ve used in the past that have helped out your photography practice? Where do you go for inspiration? Let us know in the Comments section, below.