How Do Photographers Tell If They’re Doing Good Work?

Photographers are artists by their very nature. As with any artist, photographers want to know if they’re producing good work.

After all, a photographer known for shooting stunning photos can quickly build a business, attract new clients, and command higher rates. There’s also a sense of pride in striving to perfect your work and develop your skill.

But how do photographers tell if they’re doing good work?

Review Your Photography Techniques

When you’re assessing your own skills to see where you excel and what areas need improvement, pay close attention to how you use common photography techniques, like the:

  • Rule of thirds
  • Focus and composition
  • Balance
  • Depth of field and what subjects are given emphasis
  • Cropping
  • Lighting

The use of proper photography techniques comes with time, training, and practice. Proper techniques, when used together, elevate a photo from looking like it was shot by an amateur to one taken by a professional.

Understand Your Equipment…and How to Use It

You can pour thousands of dollars into buying expensive equipment and tools. Buying all the cutting-edge equipment in the world doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to improve your work. You still need to learn the proper way to make use of your camera, lenses, tripods, flash, and other equipment.

Did you know that how you hold your camera has an impact on the quality of a photo? Gripping the camera improperly can make you shake and make a photo look blurry or out of focus.

Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty, too. While you might be inclined to lean forward or backward when framing a shot, you’re better off repositioning your entire body — even if it means laying on the ground.

If you’re shooting in bad weather, prepare for the conditions beforehand. Bring clothes to keep yourself comfortable, warm, and dry. Shell out the cash for a lens hood or some microfiber cloths to keep your lens free and clear of raindrops or snowflakes.

As you practice honing your photography techniques, work on learning how your tools work. Play around with different lenses to get a feel for which ones excel over others in certain situations.

Remember: high-quality equipment alone doesn’t make for a better shot. Spend time learning how best to use what you’ve got.

Measure How Well Your Work is Received

It’s not always easy to accurately judge the quality of your own work. You might be too self-critical or overly enamored by what you consider to be your magnum opus.

That’s why you need to consider how others receive your work. Ultimately, they’re the ones who will decide whether or not to hire you based on your portfolio and samples.

One of the key metrics in analyzing the quality of your photography is evaluating its ability to earn currency. Currency can be anything from money to attention to likes on social media. If your photo accumulates currency (whatever it may be), that means your photo is making an impact and eliciting some sort of a response from an audience.

Some photos might be better evaluated in one context more than another. A photo you post on Instagram to garner likes and social feedback may not be the best photo to enter into a contest with industry peers.

That said, entering a contest or competition is another viable strategy for assessing the quality of your photography. Even if you lose, you might receive valuable feedback from those who are well-acquainted with judging professional photography. And if you win, well…being selected for first place in a photography contest says a lot about the quality of your work.

Once you feel like your work is of a high quality, feel free to submit it to stock agencies. Stock agencies want to buy the best work, so their acceptance of what you offer is a sign you’re on the right track.

Finally, some photographers offer to review their peers’ portfolios — generally for a fee. This is a great way to get feedback from someone whose work you admire and respect.

Continue to Hone Your Photography Skills

It’s all too easy to grow complacent with your skillset, even if you’re taking home prestigious awards and raking in the big bucks. No matter your skill as a photographer, continue to develop, learn, and experiment with new or better photography techniques, tools, and means of garnering feedback.