How To Take Magazine-Worthy Photos

Can you become an expert photographer if you practice?

According to Anders Ericsson, you can. All you have to do is practice for 10,000 hours.

Which means that if you devote 4 hours a day to practicing, you can become an expert in just under 7 years.

But if you, you know, have to work for a living, or have a family to take care of, then maybe you'll just have to set your goals a bit lower.

Still, even if you don't become an expert photographer, you can improve your photography skills by following the tips below.

First, Know Your Tools 

The manuals that come with your camera equipment are not just there to keep them from shifting around in the box. You will actually learn a lot from reading them.

In fact, our resident photographer, Kelvin, says that every time he re-reads the manuals, he learns something new. So is this works for a pro, this technique should definitely work for you.

For some high-end cameras like the Nikon D700, you can even find books focused solely on each camera that will teach you the advanced functions, like this one

Learn, Then Learn Some More

To take magazine-worthy photos — or at least photos you'd be proud to show people other than your mom — you must learn photography technique.

And the more you learn, the more you realize what you don't know.

But you can still learn a lot to make you a very good photographer.

Take classes (like this one) to learn basic techniques and advanced tricks and see a pro photographer live in action.

There are also great books about photography; everything from digital vs. film, composition, lighting, black and white, fashion, weddings, nature, and photojournalism.

And, of course, don't forget the great resource that is the Internet. You'll find tons of websites and video tutorials — like YouTube — to teach you great tips. You can even take online courses, like at, which hosts live classroom events about everything photography.

Study Great Photos — Then Study Bad Ones

Keep your eyes peeled for great photos. If they're online, do a web-clipping or screen capture and keep them in a file. If you see a great photo in a magazine, tear out the page.

Analyze the photos and figure out what makes them great and why they caught your eye.

Then study bad photos (maybe your own!). Is there not enough lighting? Is it over- or under-exposed? Could the photo have been composed differently? You will learn a lot by comparing the so-so to the great photos.

Go to museums and study portrait paintings. You wouldn't think that paintings that are centuries old could teach you anything about photography, but these painters have perfected the art of lighting and posing.

For example, a lighting technique used in portrait photography is named after the famous painter Rembrandt, whose paintings are characterized by light and shadow effects.

Take Pictures — a LOT Of Pictures

Practice, practice, practice.

Take a camera with you everywhere and take photos of everything and everyone. Pixels are cheap. If you can't carry your DSLR everywhere, use your iPhone camera. If you don't even have that, use your eyes and brain to envision the perfect shot.

Look for photo opportunities in places you wouldn't normally consider. Experiment with composition and lighting. Take tons of photos and study them to find out what works and what doesn't.

Last But Not Least, Share Your Work

No longer do you need to get your photos published or hung in a gallery for people to see them.

Show off your work online., 500px, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other online resources let you show off your best photos to hundreds, or even thousands, of people.

Of course, don't just upload 200 pictures that you just took. Even your best friend won't want to look at all of them. Pick only your best photos to share.

You May Not Reach 10,000 Hours...

But if you shoot for that goal, you'll be well on your way to taking magazine-worthy photos.

What have you done to improve your skills? Comment below!

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