Do you ever wonder why you’re not a better photographer? In this article I’m going to go over a couple simple photography lessons which will help you to answer that question. Every amateur struggles, and for good reason. Hopefully, by the end of this you’ll feel reinvigorated and ready to advance yourself as a photographer.

It Takes A Long Time To Learn Photography

The first part of your photography lesson today is about recognizing the task at hand. Photography is a colossal and complex subject with many nuances specific to each genre. As an amateur, you will have many hurdles to overcome; getting to grips with your camera, learning about light, mastering off-camera flash, learning Lightroom and Photoshop – the list goes on and on.

I remember once hearing that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something (popularized by Malcolm Gladwell). I’m not sure I agree with that statement, we all learn at different paces after all, but there certainly is some truth in the phrase. I’ve been doing something related to image creation—moving or still—for the last 10 years. After all this time, I’m well aware that I have a LOT to learn. It just takes time to learn photography – to truly learn it.

Side Note – I believe the education offered by SLR Lounge to be second to none, especially for amateurs. Make sure you look over everything in the SLR Lounge Store and consider becoming an SLR Lounge Premium member

a couple stnad in the middle of the road with the sun rising over the city in the background

You Will Not Take Good Photos For A Long Time

This is a sad fact. If we widen our definition of “good photos” then perhaps you’ll achieve the dizzying heights of “good” a little quicker, but in reality, you’re going to suck for a while. The important thing at this stage, which will last longer for some than others, is to persevere. Going from my own experience, people seem to believe that photography is easier than it is, because it’s oh-so-easy to slap on a nifty 1.8 and get a creamy background. As a result, when you buy your first camera expectations can be high.


Keep in mind that every photographer you admire was once in the same boat. Nobody starts anything as an expert. The difference between those that become experts and those that remain amateurs is dedication. You need to put in those 10,000 hours (or thereabouts).


Two Tips To Speed Up Your Journey

Right, now you know. You suck (varyingly), and will continue to do so for quite some time. It’s going to take no small amount of effort, and a large time commitment, to transform your photography from poor or plain to amazing. While it may be the case that you need to put in the hours, that doesn’t mean that you can’t speed up the process. At the very least, by frequenting sites like this, by watching and attending photography courses, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that may stall your progression.


My first photography lesson is focus. I’ve written articles in the past about committing to one genre so as not to spread yourself too thin, but this is different. Yes, if you can pick one genre and focus on that then I think it’s beneficial, but what I’m talking here is a focused approach to image creation. Amateurs take photos; professionals create them. If your aim is solely to take a good photos then ironically it will take you longer to get there. Creating photos requires forethought, planning and a level of competency to execute your vision. Focus on the creation of every one of your photos and your photography will improve.

The second lesson is to assert the necessity of education. Education is not the be all and end all but it can be very helpful to propel you forward. You learn a lot from trial and error but a certain amount of education can stop you making simple mistakes and turn you onto techniques and methods you may not have learned on your own. Some of my favorite places / people who create good quality education are; Creative Live, Phlearn, Photigy, Julia Kuzmenko, Vibrant Shot and SLR Lounge (of course). Depending on what you want to learn one of those will provide you with indispensable knowledge.

Max factor splash photography image. Used to demonstrate the photography lesson of the benefits of focusing
Photo by Square Mountain Photography

Summary Of This Vital Photography Lesson

Every photographer was rubbish when they started. It’s only through hard work and dedication that your photography will improve. It takes thousands of hours to become good, let alone an expert. If you’re not willing to devote those hours, then you will never achieve the level of photography you desire.


To speed up your development, focus. Amateurs have a tendency to take photos; professionals create photos. Slow down, envision the outcome, sketch it out, practice, and devote a significant amount of time to each image. Always have that thought in mind, create photos don’t take photos.