The journey of a photographer is not necessarily an easy one. I

t’s a road full of highs and lows, breakthroughs and frustrations.

While these moments happen for us all, there are a few things that the most successful photographers do to keep moving in the right direction.

1. Shoot regularly

One of the biggest things you can do to progress as a photographer is to take your camera out often. Challenging yourself to shoot regularly will automatically put you in a variety of situations: natural and artificial light, full sun and shade, inside and out. Every successful photographer you view as talented started at the beginning; talent is often mistaken for the culmination of hard work.

girl playing hopscotch on the beach by Kristy Dooley

2. Have a personal project

For those who chose to turn their photography into a business, this is an especially important habit to form. When what started as a hobby becomes a career, it’s easy for it to lose its appeal. Taking the time to keep photography fun by purposefully shooting for yourself, will keep your heart in the game. Whether your project is daily, weekly, or monthly, commit to something that excites the artist in you.

3. Print your work

In today’s digital work, this is especially important. Holding your hard work in your hand, versus seeing it solely on your computer screen is an incredibly satisfying feeling. Decide how often you want to print your work, (monthly is a great habit to form!) and put in your calendar. No excuses!

Read more about printing and organizing your personal pictures here.

4. Keep it fun

Take steps to keep the journey enjoyable – you might consider renting a non-traditional lens such as a Lensbaby or fisheye, experiment with new editing techniques, or challenge yourself with new light. Shoot daily for a month, consider a day-in-the-life series, or participate in a challenge with a group of photography friends.

5. Always keep learning

No matter where you are in your photography journey, you can always keep learning. Successful photographers embrace and look forward to ongoing education. Taking a workshop, attending a conference, or picking up a new book are some great options to get you started. If you work better with accountability, find a group of other photographers (either online or in person) and work together.

kids picking berries photo by Kristy Dooley

6. Embrace your style

Successful photographers are comfortable in their own skin. As you grow and develop a style you like (knowing that this may change with time!), embrace it. By shooting what you love and enjoy, your work will be naturally more genuine. If you’re in business, the same rule applies. Capture moments that appeal to you, and you’ll find clients who are attracted to the same style.

7. Enjoy the journey

The most important habit you can form is accepting that it’s a process, and learning to enjoy the ride. Anticipate the bumps in the road, hold onto the high moments, and treasure every image.