How To Develop Your Photographic Eye

Last Updated on March 26, 2021

Your photographic eye is like a muscle. It must be exercised and if you slack off you won’t be as creative behind your camera.

A successful photographer doesn’t just get there magically. It requires work and dedication to achieve a great photographers eye.

You must also look at this like much of life, to give yourself the best odds of capturing stunning pictures you have to take more photographs. That means start your sessions earlier and take more shots.

But if you really want to develop your eye follow these tips and you are guaranteed to improve.

How To Exercise Your Photography Eye

forest with sun shining through trees

Some people believe that your eye is just something you’re born with but you can improve and develop you eye and improve your photography and the power of your images. To get started, follow these tips and never stop working on improving your eye.

Learn From Master Photographers

man standing in tunnel black and white image

Who are your favorite photographers? Once you know the answer to that start studying their work. Look deeply at their work to discover what was done to impact you so strong. Study how the photographer used light, what lens they used, what camera and their perspective.

Know Your Scene

distressed Russian street

Now let’s get behind the camera. As you look at your scene through your viewfinder what do you really see? Think about how your subject is framed and how the other elements compliment it.

Use those other elements to tell you more about your subject. And before you even frame a shot scout your location with an eye on all these elements. What can you include to tell your story? What should be strategically left out?

Understand Your Lens

man sitting dock mountains in background

Understanding how your lens affects your composition is imperative to developing your eye. For example, if you are shooting with a telephoto lens it will bring elements closer and crop your field of view. It will also compress the distance viewed between your background and foreground.

Know which lens will balance your scene elements in an interesting way. Understanding this comes from shooting with your lenses more and studying how the scene is effected. As you better understand your lenses the more proportional your compositions will be.

Shoot In Manual But Meter Your Exposure

man standing on rock ledge overlooking lake

When shooting difficult landscapes you should meter for the brightest part of your scene but shoot in manual. This will prevent your highlights from being blown out.

In general you will want to meter the center of your scene and then recompose your frame to get the composition you want.

Using your spotmeter allows you to instantly know your exposure. If photographing a person you will want to meter for skin tone.

Keep It In RAW

Shooting in RAW will give you the freedom to adjust your exposure in post session editing. While you will need to do less editing in time, it is always best to give yourself the option to avoid missing any great images.

Keep An Open Mind

I can’t tell you how many times I initially disliked an image only to later see it in a different light. What at first looks like a messy scene may actually offer the elements that excite and interest the eye.

Creating uncertainty and questions is a powerful tool for the photographer and in time you will understand how to incorporate more of this in your compositions.

This goes for editing as well. Don’t be quick to eliminate all perceived flaws. Some well times inconsistencies can really breathe life into your photography.


Developing your photographic eye comes in time, there are no shortcuts. With consistent and focused practice your brain and eye will begin to see the shapes of your scene in a new way allowing you to capture compelling images. And don’t be afraid of making mistakes, some of the biggest leaps you will make will be from taking risks and studying your mistakes.