Photography has been a passion of mine for many years, I first fell in love with photography during high-school, back then I mainly took photos of flowers, animals, and of my friends. I didn't understand how to use manual mode, and I only used my 18-55mm kit lens.
It took me a long time to fully learn the art of photography, and I want to share the important tools that I now use, and wish I had learned earlier.
1) Buy a better lens.
This is key to getting better photos! Kit lenses are great for just starting out, I used my kit lens for years before investing money into buying professional level glass. However, I wish I had done so much sooner. It doesn't even have to be that expensive, instead of buying the camera that comes with the kit lens, buy the camera body only and use that saved money towards a 50mm 1.8--which can cost as little as $100
2) Get Lightroom
I didn't know what Lightroom was until my freshman year at VCUarts, but now I cannot live without it! Lightroom is how I edit every single one of my photos. Adobe has a photography plan that is only $10 a month for access to Lightroom and Photoshop CC
3) Invest in Presets
For the longest time, I had absolutely no idea what presets were, instead I hand edited every image. But once I realized that you could buy presets I was kicking myself for not buying them sooner!
4) Shoot in RAW format
If I am being 100% honest, I didn't start shooting in Raw until last year. That was also before I bought my first preset packs, and while I still did hand edits. JPEG is great if you don't plan on editing very much, but RAW gives you the ability to really personalize your edits and to use presets.
5) Take pictures ALL the time
If I had given up on photography on one of the occasions that I was feeling down about how bad I was at it in the past, then I would have never gotten to where I am now. I am still learning and getting better every time that I pick up and use my camera--and the more work you put into it, the better you will get too.
From Then (images from 2014)