While working on my goal of taking a picture everyday, I have found these tips helpful.
* Have 2 sets of rechargeable batteries or the battery that goes with your camera. My camera takes AA batteries and I have found rechargeables last longer than even litheym batteries. I went to Radio Shack and asked for the most powerful rechargeables they had and got 2500mAh. I have no idea what that means, but my old ones had a lower number--the new ones keep their charge longer. It was $17.99 for 4 AA rechargeable batteries. My last set lasted about a year, so I feel that's a good investment. Here's some for even less expensive: Sony 2500 mAh AA Rechargeable Nimh Batteries, 4-pack
The fist sign the batteries in my camera are running down (I have a red battery icon), I put the other set in the charger so they will be charged by the time I need them. You will get to know your camera and how often you will need to charge your battery.
* Take your camera with you EVERYWHERE. I don't leave home without it. My camera follows me just about everywhere and it stays charged up with the SD card in it, ready to go.
Look for interesting things to take photos of. It could be anything and don't rule anything out. I find that I go out to take a photo of the day, think I have a good one, then something more fun and interesting comes along.
* Make a commitment to taking photos everyday! Be accountable by publishing it somewhere (on Facebook, a blog, ShutterCal.com, or emailing to someone). If you HAVE to put it somewhere, you'll be more likely to do it. Also, narrowing it down to ONE photo per day makes you think. What is the best one? You will have to choose.
* I use Picasa free photo software. It's a very simple software. It's no where near Adobe Photoshop. I use Picasa mostly to organize photos. As I import them from my camera card to my computer, it puts photos in a folder with today's date. I like that. It has very basic photo editing, but enough to make me happy. I might upgrade later? I tried a more complicated photo editing software and felt it was too much, so decided to keep with the basics. You can even use Picasa to upload photos to free web albums. I use it to publish directly to Blogger. It's integrated with Blogger, Gmail, and more. Picasa also recognizes faces and can tag photos automatically that way. I can make cool collages with Picasa. So for a free, basic program, I think it does a lot.
* To conserve battery usage, transfer your photos via the SD card. Take the card out of your camera and put in your computer to transfer photos. This way you don't have to mess with the cord and you save on battery power. If you don't have an SD card port on your computer, you can get a Flash Memory Card Reader.
* Don't be afraid to use your camera in new ways. Try different settings and see what happens. The fireworks shoot was a huge learning session for me! I've also learned that unless you're doing some sort of formal portrait or maybe a landscape, to keep the camera on Auto most of the time, after you've tried other settings.
* Just keep taking pictures. Even when you go to get pictures done professionally, they take a lot of pictures and choose the best ones. Well professionals take a ton of photos and choose the best ones from what they have. Don't be afraid to take 10 photos of the same thing, then choose a good one. It's easy enough to delete excess photos. Also don't be afraid to use your software to crop, sharpen, tint, or whatever makes it look better. I've learned that professionals use Photoshop, too. I take several photos of one thing and only 2 or 3 really good ones come out.
I began this photo project to improve my skills with the camera and software I already own. In just six weeks I could tell a big improvement in my photos as well as how I take the pictures to begin with. You can read about that here.
I hope I have inspired you to improve your photography skills, too.