How to Become an Intermediate Photographer: 8 Tips

When you first started out as a photographer, everything was golden. You are constantly learning, and the process of releasing and creating feels new. But over time, this honeymoon period will spread out.

Within a few years, you’ll find that you’ve learned everything you needed as a beginner. If you don’t adapt and evolve, you risk stagnating and falling in love with the job.

If you feel like you’re in this miserable beginner-intermediate purgatory, don’t worry; We have what you need. Keep reading to find out how you can take the next step forward.

1. Prioritize the exposure triangle

When you start out as a photographer, the most important thing is to make it a habit and build momentum. The quality of your images will naturally improve as you practice, but applying a little theory will help you take it to the next level.

The exposure triangle is one of the most crucial aspects of photography and involves ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Simply put, all three must work in harmony to achieve the desired results.

If you want to learn a little more about the exposure triangle, we have a comprehensive guide.

2. Be more intentional with your photography

Photographer reviewing his photos

After buying your first camera, you probably went out and took pictures of everything you thought was beautiful. And while it’s a crucial first step, becoming an intermediate photographer requires you to be more intentional with what you shoot.


If you feel ready to say goodbye to the beginner phase, the first thing to do is look at your current portfolio. What types of photography do you like the most and what aren’t you a big fan of? Let go of anything that falls into the latter category and focus on what brings you the most joy.

Related: Effective Ways to Get Out of Your Photographic Rut

Another way to be more intentional with your photography is to think about your goals before you go out. This will help you pick the right gear and pick the slots that match what you’re trying to accomplish. As a result, you’ll take better photos.

3. Focus on lighting

Photo of a person taking a photo at golden hour

As you gain experience in photography, you’ll quickly notice that lighting plays an important role in whether or not you get the shot you’re looking for. Different times of the day will yield different results; golden hour will give you a softer tone, while shooting midday in the summer will result in harsher shadows.

This tip is partially related to the previous section; Knowing your goals will make it easier for you to shoot in the right conditions. If you want to develop a moody style of photography, for example, it makes no sense to go outside when the weather is nice.

Related: What Is Golden Hour For Photographers And When?

4. Use color theory

Have you ever taken a photo that you thought was beautiful at the time but hated after importing it into your post-production software? Or did you share a photo on Instagram that you thought would work well, just to get tumbleweed?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, it may be because you didn’t use complementary colors.

Color theory refers to how certain tones work together. It’s a crucial part of the success of many photographers, and you’ll also notice graphic designers and advertisers using it to captivate their audiences.

This article on using color theory will give you a deeper understanding and get you thinking about how you can use it for your projects.

5. Know your camera

Photo of a photographer using his camera

Even modern entry-level cameras are quite complex. You probably don’t think too much about extra bolts and whistles when you’re in the beginner phase. However, it makes sense to explore them once you’re comfortable with the basics.

The first place to start is shooting in different modes. If you’re still using manual, try aperture priority or shutter priority, or vice versa. You can also change colors, add grain, and more.

Knowing more about how your camera works can help you determine when to use specific tools and modes. As such, it will become easier to produce the results you want.

6. Focus on the emotions

Many non-photographers believe that being good involves a little more than pointing your camera at something that looks good to you. And yes, it might produce a “good” photo, but it won’t create a great one.

Emotions are one of the cornerstones of great photography. To make your photos memorable, you need your audience to feel what you felt when you took them. You should also make sure to capture other people’s facial expressions as this will add more life to your image.

7. Connect with other photographers

To excel in any creative field, you need other people around you. If your photography journey up until now has been mostly about being a lone wolf, it’s time to change that.

Besides building a supportive community, networking with other photographers is a great way to learn new tricks that have worked for them in the past. Moreover, you could also open the door to future opportunities.

You can connect with other photographers in several ways. Instagram is a powerful tool for finding like-minded people in your area, and the same goes for dating websites. If you can’t find any clubs or societies to join, consider starting one yourself.

8. Take classes

Man working on computer

It’s easy to feel like you’ve learned everything about photography after two or three years. But, believe it or not, you’ve only scratched the surface at this point.

Taking classes and practicing what you learn can help you rekindle that creative spark and progress to the intermediate level. You can find several free resources on YouTube.

Related: The best photography YouTube channels to follow

Besides the free content, you can take more intensive courses on platforms like Skillshare. In some cases, you will also be able to find evening classes where you live.

At some point in their creative journey, every photographer will experience the struggle where they are neither a beginner nor an intermediate. This demotivating episode can last several months or even years in some cases.

Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you persist and think outside the box, you will continue to grow as a creator. And once you pass this phase, everything will seem more rewarding to you.

Photo of a photographer in nature looking at his camera
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