The more you practice photography, the better you'll get at it. However, it can be difficult to find the time and motivation to get the camera out. Really you need to be shooting on a regular basis, and the more you photograph, the better you'll get.
In this article I'll share some tips to help get you photographing more regularly and improve your photography.
Always have a camera with you
Take a camera with you wherever you go, for example to work. Leave some extra time on your way to and from work so you can take some photos of anything interesting you see.
underpass by superfreakmorticia on flickr (licensed CC-BY-SA)
You don't need to take a DSLR and several lenses with you, just a camera phone will be enough. It still gets you shooting, and practicing photography. Although a camera phone may not be the best tool for learning about shutter speed, ISO, white balance etc, it is still great for practicing composition and subject engagement. In fact, due to the inconspicuousness of a camera phone, you may be able to get some shots you couldn't with a larger camera.
Don't wait to process
Process your photos as soon as possible after taking them, while you still remember what you were trying to achieve with the photo. This helps in two ways:
You can tailor the processing to the message you wanted the photo to display when you took it
You can realize if the photo does not display the message you intended. (This would be difficult if you are processing the photo a week later and have forgotten why you took the photo). You can analyze the photo, and see where you went wrong, and what could have been done better, all part of the learning process. (If you're not sure why the photo doesn't work, see the next tip).
If you find a problem with your photo, by processing it soon after taking it, you may be able to go back and re-shoot the same subject, this time making sure you don't make the same mistake again.
Share your photos
By sharing your photos, both online, and offline with family and friends, you can receive valuable encouragement in your photography. It also gives much more purpose to your photography if you are sharing with others, rather than just keeping the photos to yourself.
Sharing your photos online and asking for critque, or sharing them at a photography club, you can also receive useful feedback on why a photo does or doesn't work, and what you could do to improve.
Photograph the same subject regularly
If you try to photograph the same, or similar subjects regularly, it will become a habit. You'll find it becomes second nature, and you don't need to motivate yourself for the photography as it's just something you do anyway.
Father & Son Collaboration - Boat Triptych - 4.3.12 by MatthewHolland on flickr (licensed CC-BY-ND)
By photographing the same subject, it will force you to think creatively, so all your shots do not turn out the same. Eventually you'll be able to put together a great portfolio of shots, just of that one subject.
Extend your day for photography
Try and get up a bit earlier than normal, so you can go out for an early morning walk and take some photos. Especially in the summer this can be a good idea, as it allows you to catch the soft warm light that is present soon after sunrise.
You can also catch a different slice of life to what you would normally see later in the day. For example, market traders setting up their stalls, birds singing in the trees, or fishermen coming back into port and unloading the catch.
If you're more of a night owl, how about going to bed a bit later, and taking an evening walk. It gives you a good chance to practice night and low light photography. Similar to shooting in the early morning, places often look quite different and have a different atmosphere at night as well.
Try a time based photography project
By taking part in a time based photography project, you commit yourself to taking photos more regularly. Especially if you tell others that you will be doing the project, you will feel more of a need to actually get out and take photos.
Photo 365, where you take and post at least 1 photo every day is probably the most popular time based photography project. However, you can make your own project, and do something like "20 doors in 20 days" taking photos of interesting doors, or "Weekly Whales" trying to take a photo of something whale related every week - you might have to think quite out of the box for that!
So don't keep putting off photography, just grab a camera and take some photos. The more you practice, the better you'll get.