Hit the Books with Dan Milnor: Top Photography Advice

Photography is all the rage these days, and this is something I am happy about. The fact that more people are making more images means the documentation of human existence is perhaps more comprehensive than ever before. Sure, have we seen enough selfies and what-we-had-for-lunch photographs? Yes, we have, but ultimately, we now have countless lenses providing a near-complete picture of life on Earth and sometimes even beyond.

Because photography tools have become so accessible and ubiquitous, it means we also have a lot of newcomers to the photography scene. If you’re new to the idea of making pictures and want to learn how to take better shots, here are eight tips and tricks that could come in handy as you explore your world.

Dan Milnor’s top advice

1. Get close

The famous war photographer Robert Capa said, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” Anytime you think you have the image of your dreams, take one step closer and see how it looks. 

2. Less is more

When it comes to photography equipment, it’s easy to go down the path of thinking you need the latest and greatest. You don’t. In fact, all you need is something you’re willing to carry, which for many of us means our mobile phone. I’ve had workshop students shoot entire classes with only their phones and their images were not only stellar, they looked fantastic in the books they created during class.

3. Think about light

I believe that light is the single most important element when it comes to the foundation of strong photography. Try to shoot when the light is optimal. Early morning, late afternoon, and even at night when the darkness adds to the mood.

Want to learn more? Here’s a guide to photography lighting techniques.

Photograph of a surfer waiting for a wave—a great example of how photographers should be patient

4. Be patient

It’s easy to always be in a hurry these days, but being patient can pay off in major ways when it adds to the drama in your images. If you see a potential image, don’t be afraid to wait for the setting to become just right.

5. Stay curious

Curiosity is arguably the most important trait a photographer can have. Curiosity leads to visual investigation, which tends to lead to great photographs.

6. Edit your photography

Don’t post everything you shoot. Edit photographs and showcase only your best. This way, when people see your name in the feed, they know to stop and pay attention because what you post is always at a high level.

Photograph of hundreds of birds flying through a field. This shows how editing is really helpful

7. Make prints and books

Putting your work in print forces you to apply critical thought to your work. Print forces us to ask, “What are the absolute best images I have?” and “What image would work best as the cover of my book?”

Answer some of those questions in our guide to choosing images for your printed book

8. Try what scares you

If you are someone who prefers to make pictures of buildings and landscapes, force yourself to photograph people. Start with a friend, then eventually move on to people in your circles. Portraiture is a great skill to have.

Ultimately, enjoy the process. Photography means different things to different people, and whatever it means to you is precisely right. A hobby or a job or even a hobby you hope becomes a job. Start small, start close to home, and enjoy every minute. 


Dan Milnor is a professional photographer and Blurb’s creative evangelist. He helps creators learn to shoot and self-publish. So if you’re ready to turn your photography into a photo book, join us at Blurb.

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