1. Bring your Camera
The number one most important thing you can do to improve your photography is to have your camera with you wherever you go. You cannot catch the best image or any image at all if you do not have your camera with you. I keep my 5D in my bag with my 24-70mm. This lens provides a decent amount of utility for walk-around use, you can “zoom with your feet” pretty well. It is not important to have all of your equipment with you, usually just having a good utility lens and an extra battery and memory card should suffice.
2. Commit to a “Learning Schedule”
You have to keep learning new things in order to improve. The best way to do this is to set a plan for learning. It can be as simple as “I will learn 1 new thing a week” or “I will learn 1 new thing a month”. You can learn a new setting on your camera, or what a different slider does in your editing program does, or even read 1 chapter in a book. The important thing is to have a commitment to learn something on a schedule. No putting it off, make small commitments. Read a book, blog, or tutorial. There are plenty of resources out there.
3. Thin the Herd
You have photos that are throw-aways. Come to terms with that and get rid of the garbage. I am not talking about your photos that are “memories” keep all of those. However, the 15 different pictures of that rose you took… well pick the best 1… maybe 2, and ditch the rest. Only keep what is good. You will feel better about your work when you open your portfolio and there are only “keepers” in there.
4. Showcase your Work
Now that you have narrowed you library to the best of your best… you need to show it off. Sites like Flickr, 500px, Facebook, or even starting your own website are great ways to do this. This will allow you to open yourself up for critique and exposure to other photographers. You can learn from what pictures get noticed and commented on by others. Some of these sites allow “voting” or “rating” of your work. This an easy way to get feedback on your work. It is important to upload your work slowly a few images at a time. If you upload 100 images in one sitting people won’t spend time to look through them all, and you will also fall off of any type of “Recent Uploads” sorting that often gets more attention.
5. Clean and Organize your Equipment
Clean your lens, sensor (if you are comfortable doing so), and camera body. Take all of your equipment out of your bags and make sure everything is in good shape. Batteries charged, memory cards empty and ready for use. Put everything back in to your bags in an order that makes sense for use. Having your equipment clean, organized, and ready for use will make it much easier to get the shot when you know where all of your accessories and equipment are located. This will make capturing the perfect image less stressful, and you will feel much better having your things in order.