10 Unconventional Tips to Become a Better Photographer

November 29, 2010 · 34 comments

in Tips & Tricks

Being a better photographer is not always about owning fancy equipment or expensive lenses. In fact, it all comes down to lots of practice and a bit of trial and error. These simple tips only act as guidelines and you are more than welcome to challenge the status quo and push the boundaries.

I’m writing this from my own perspective and learning experience. Some of these tips might be more obvious than others, but I’ll try to steer away from the clichéd photography tips you’d always hear.

1.) Take photos of ugly things

Stop photographing flowers, rainbows and puppies. Find yourself staring at something disgusting, uncomfortable and dirty – now try to make it look appealing in a photograph. If you can make a bag of garbage look artistically appealing, then you can make anything look great.

Garbage Day by Jeff_Werner

2.) Squint

In photography, lighting plays a major role in how your photo will turn out. You don’t want an image that looks flat. Always be aware of where the light source is coming from and any contrast in shadows and highlights. A simple tip is to gently squint and you’d soon be able to notice the lighting and color contrasts. If it’s all just a gray blur, then the photo probably won’t turn out as interesting.

High Contrast Asymmetrical by RandyA38

3.) Switch to a prime lens every so often

A prime lens is great as it really pushes you to see and compose things differently. It’s also useful for photographing random passers-by as it looks less intimidating than if you were pointing a long zoom lens at them.

Primes by barnoid

4.) Get into silly positions

Don’t be afraid to get yourself into strange positions in public. Stand, kneel, lie down or jump up if you have to. Try to see everyday things from a different perspective.

Shooting from the hip by Matti L

5.) Keep your bad photos

It’s tempting to delete a bad photo straight after you’ve taken it. But try not to, especially when you’re doing a series of shots.   Don’t worry about storage either as hopefully you have some sort of online backup and plenty of memory cards. When viewed on your computer, you’d gain understanding of why it was a bad photo compared to the one you like. You’d learn from your mistakes much quicker and easier this way.

Worst Band Photo Ever by Sumlin

6.) Shoot like you don’t have Photoshop

Some photographers rely too much on digital post-processing. But you know what? There’s only so much you can do with a really bad photo. The time spent in the digital darkroom could be better spent actually getting the shot right. Invest some time composing and manually adjusting your camera settings at the time of the shoot.

7.) Take your camera with you… Everywhere

Find inspiration in your everyday routine and take your camera with you on your mundane routine. You’d notice the finer things you often miss when you walk to work. Or how the objects around your house can serve as a great prop or photo opportunity.

This old chair by Darwin Bell

8.) Read the boring manual

The camera manual can be long, boring and tedious. However, if you’ve taken the time to read through it one chapter at a time, you’d be surprised at little new features and functions you’d pick up. I’ve had my Canon 50D for nearly two years now and it was only the other day that I discovered about the Auto Lighting Optimizer.

9.) Don’t just use one camera

Never get stuck using just one camera. From time to time, snap pictures with your mobile phone, point-and-shoot, plastic toy camera or even a disposal camera. You’d be pleasantly surprised at the different results each camera produces.

Fish eyed Henri Julien by diebmx

10.) Forget professional photographers

I enjoy looking at the extraordinary photos taken by very experienced professional photographers. However, not many of them motivate me to get off the couch and start taking amazing photos myself. That’s why I enjoy looking through blogs and photos written and taken by everyday photographers like myself. I’m more likely to find myself strolling through the park, than a chaotic war zone or secluded tropical island.

Everyday is gonna be alright by FotoRita [Allstar maniac]

Do you have any more tips to share?

Article by

1 part ad agency. 2 parts freelancer. An avid urban photographer, traveler, and streetwear lover. Geeky curator of all things awesome. Sustains on Vegemite, meat pies and lamingtons. Follow me on Twitter or Flickr.

Yi has written 69 awesome articles for us at Photoble

  • http://twitter.com/rockportrait rockportrait

    There’s an Auto Lighting Optimiser? Is that a good thing? I kind of like using my brain as the Auto Lighting Optimiser, but I’ll still search for the one on my 50D and see what it does.

  • http://twitter.com/rockportrait Stephen McGrath

    There’s an Auto Lighting Optimiser? Is that a good thing? I kind of like using my brain as the Auto Lighting Optimiser, but I’ll still search for the one on my 50D and see what it does.

  • http://barnoid.org.uk barnoid

    I should redo that Primes photo to include my rather nice Sigma 30mm f1.4. Nice article.

  • http://barnoid.org.uk barnoid

    I should redo that Primes photo to include my rather nice Sigma 30mm f1.4. Nice article.

  • http://www.willheyphotography.com Adrian

    Good tips, especially about the primes.

  • http://www.willheyphotography.com Adrian

    Good tips, especially about the primes.

  • http://www.alexbeadonphotography.com/blog Alex

    Great post!

  • http://www.alexbeadonphotography.com/blog Alex

    Great post!

  • http://pierre.equoy.free.fr Pierre

    Nice ideas here!

    About the point 7 (Take your camera with you… Everywhere): how do you do with a DSLR and a couple of lenses? You can’t really go and have your breakfast with that, can you?

  • http://pierre.equoy.free.fr Pierre

    Nice ideas here!

    About the point 7 (Take your camera with you… Everywhere): how do you do with a DSLR and a couple of lenses? You can’t really go and have your breakfast with that, can you?

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  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    The Auto Lighting Optimizer adjusts darker areas and shadows. Nevertheless, I found that my photos were a lot less exposed after turning it off. You should also look to switch off Highlight Tone Priority.

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    The Auto Lighting Optimizer adjusts darker areas and shadows. Nevertheless, I found that my photos were a lot less exposed after turning it off. You should also look to switch off Highlight Tone Priority.

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    You definitely have a nice collection of primes there! :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Thank you! I tend to shoot with primes 90% of the time. I sometimes find it awkward using a zoom!

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    You definitely have a nice collection of primes there! :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Thank you! I tend to shoot with primes 90% of the time. I sometimes find it awkward using a zoom!

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    I tend to use a 50mm prime as it’s light and small. Although, when I say camera, I’m not just limiting that to a dSLR. I usually have a point-and-shoot thrown in my bag somewhere and I guess my camera phone is always with me too.

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    I tend to use a 50mm prime as it’s light and small. Although, when I say camera, I’m not just limiting that to a dSLR. I usually have a point-and-shoot thrown in my bag somewhere and I guess my camera phone is always with me too.

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  • Summersimac

    I have carried a Canon S90 in a Case Logic attached with a carobiner to my belt loop for the past fourteen months. I never walk out the door without it no matter where I am going. In this fourteen months I have snapped over seven thousand pictures with it. The quality photographs rivals that of two thousand dollar cameras and many of them have sold in area art stores.

  • Summersimac

    I have carried a Canon S90 in a Case Logic attached with a carobiner to my belt loop for the past fourteen months. I never walk out the door without it no matter where I am going. In this fourteen months I have snapped over seven thousand pictures with it. The quality photographs rivals that of two thousand dollar cameras and many of them have sold in area art stores.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Excellent stuff! I’ve heard great things about the Canon S-series and looking to buy an S95. Feel free to insert a link so our readers can take a look at your photos! :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Excellent stuff! I’ve heard great things about the Canon S-series and looking to buy an S95. Feel free to insert a link so our readers can take a look at your photos! :)

  • Ajmer Singh

    thanx .. now i always keep my canon 7d with me ..

  • Steve

    Great post.  Its funny some of the things you mentioned I noticed myself already doing and thinking about.  LIke taking my camera everywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000164982981 Jerome Johnson

    i like your advise this will help me create better photo shots than the ones i had befour 

  • Sharyn

    This is fantastic. Thank you. I will certainly be getting out there and trying these tips. I always have a camera with me so as not to miss a shot

  • Franz Scheurer

    You pointed out the most important rule for taking unusual photographs, different situations, the unexpected, etc. NEVER go anywhere without a camera.

  • Nyi Philip

    cool

  • Nyi Philip

    very nice :)

  • Charm

    Thanks for sharing!I enjoy reading it and learning from it.

  • Sonnet

    Thank you!

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