How Can You Tell if You’re Improving as a Photographer? Do This Simple Test

As weeks, months, and years go by and your experience and skills in photography continue to expand, it's always nice to get some confirmation that you're actually improving. But, how can you get that feedback? Do this simple test, and you'll immediately see how far you've evolved.

Whenever we take up something new or make some kind of change in our lives designed to bring about improvement, we often have a goal in mind about where we'd like to end up. A simple example is weight loss. We might get on the scales after a particularly hearty silly season over Christmas and New Year and find that we're not exactly fighting fit, so we decide that we want to shed some kilos. In that case, we have a start point and an end point in mind. It might be a loss of five kilograms, ten, or whatever, but it's very easy to measure, as we can just hop on the scales each morning and monitor our progress. The same goes with running times and many other objectively measurable things. But what about photography? How can we measure if we're improving or not?

That question brings us to this great video by Mark Denney, in which he walks us through a very simple test we can all take to see how far we've developed over our photography journeys. What is it? A simple before and after test. Specifically, he says we should open up edits we did many years ago and look at how we'd do things differently now. In particular, he says we should look out for three key things: seeing the mistakes we made in our original edits, applying new local adjustments to our edits with filters and masks, and working on global adjustments and comparing results. It's a great exercise in measuring how we change our approaches to editing as we gain more knowledge and experience. It's a fascinating watch that I highly recommend. What are the biggest changes you've made to your editing over the years?

Iain Stanley's picture

Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. Fstoppers is where he writes about photography, but he's also a 5x Top Writer on Medium, where he writes about his expat (mis)adventures in Japan and other things not related to photography. To view his writing, click the link above.

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment

Sounds trivial but in my experience re-editing old photos was very revealing and I think I really improved as a result.