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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have any more tips to share?