I just read a McNally blog – do yourself a favor. If you truly love photography, and hearing a good tale along the way – go read his blog and soon you'll find yourself buying his books and seeking his videos and You Tube.
But, if you are just starting out and are looking to become better, let me share the wisdom that was given to me years ago.
• Shoot Daily. I once asked Michael Nelson to mentor me and he said "just go out and take pictures every day. Select ONE that you like best and throw the others away. I did that in the beginning and I look back now and marvel at how I have improved over time. Shooting daily is as important to me today as it was years ago - it allows me to see growth, it provides me with wonderful new opportunities, it challenges me to be proud of at least one image every day and it helps me to build a new and important portfolio. Check out my 365 Photo a Day Posts on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/chrisdaviscina
• Less is More. Saw this on a t-shirt today and was reminded that it is the mantra of one of my very favorite landscape photographers, Robert Rodriguez, Jr. Whenever you can, seek education with a photographer that you admire. Seeing how they work, learning how they see, immersing yourself in their habits is so important to your photographic growth. Rodriguez showed me that it is important to caption my vision - find a subject and try and capture the emotion I have for that subject by leading the viewer into the image with leading lines and light. I have been guilty of trying to grasp too much in an image, but my very favorite images are simple, elegant and to the point.
• You can't have a great image without light. The word photography itself means writing with light. I've read many books about the importance of light but it was Rodriguez who finally allowed me to see the QUALITY and IMPORTANCE of good light. We all recognize how beautiful the early morning glow of sunrise is and how spectacular the colors of sunset are. But if the colors are flat, without the contrast of shadows and light, there is no drama and no practice of good photographic principles. Study light. Where is it? Where does it look best? What is it doing to the composition?
I could go on and on with tips but lets get back to number one - get out there and get shooting!
And enjoy your time while doing it. Life is about embracing the present and stopping to see it's beauty.