How To Improve Your Adventure Sports Photography
Hero photo & Words: Nadir Khan
Capturing outdoor adventures can be a tricky task, with ever-changing weather, light, and fast-moving subjects. We asked professional action sports photographer Nadir Khan to help us turn our everyday photos into magazine worthy shots.
Criticism of your work is one of the best tools for learning and growing as an artist. It can be a painful process but receiving this is vital for progression.Try setting up a weekly meet-up (I did mine at the local pub) with some fellow photography enthusiasts where you all bring three or four images and let each other know what you like about the shot, what you could have done differently, what's distracting and whether or not it connects on an emotional level.
After a few sessions, you should be able to discover some areas you could improve on a look at improving. It's important to remember if everyone is too nice no one will learn anything or get the chance to improve – for it to work everyone has to totally honest in their opinion.
Have personal projects. be inspired and creative, push yourself hard to get the very best shots you can, experiment, try new things, if they don't work it doesn't matter, learn from them. Keep visualising the images you want to create, see them in your mind's eye, imagine what the wind will feel like, how the mist will be rolling over that ridgeline and how you'll have the climber poised as if they're climbing up out of that gap. Live, breathe and sleep images, let your mind create shapes, textures and emotions.
In all fields of life there is a bell curve, i.e. 60 % average, then the 20 % at the top of the curve and the 20% at the bottom of the curve. It's the way it has always been and there's no way to change that. But what you can do is change where you are in the curve, by training, practice, and instruction you can go from average Joe in the 60% to an above average Joe in the top 20 %.
Develop an emotional connection with your work
A picture has to say something, it has to draw the viewer into the shot to make them ask a question or wish they were there or somehow spark something within them that excites, inspires or moves them in some way. That's what I look for in an image, something I can look at for more than just a few secs and keep finding elements that interest me.
Follow other artists
You can gain a lot from following other photographers and filmers; including inspiration for new styles, moods and see how they construct their portfolio. It also helps with throwing a new perspective on locations or subjects, developing and influencing your compositions.
If you want to learn more technical skills, Nadir is running a photography workshop at Glenmore Lodge this October.
You can also see more of his work in his latest book, which is now available on pre-order and is a collection of Scottish adventure sports images from the last six years.
About the Author:
Nadir Khan - Photographer and Filmer
Nadir is an award-winning photographer and filmer, who for the last few years has produced the Ellis Brigham catalogues and works with numerous other outdoor companies and brands.