Whether you are a seasoned shooter or an aspiring beginner, there may be something in these tips that you can use to improve your pictures or even just your photography experience as a whole. Take these tips with a pinch or 2 of salt, don’t try to apply all of these at once and you will see results in no time! So without further ado, here we go!
1) Frame in your mind, not in your viewfinder
It’s too easy to be constrained by the small box which you are looking though in order to compose your photo. Those framelines will never fully capture what you envision, or even what’s happening around the scene. It’s always great to be able to know what you want and then only translate it to your viewfinder. Sometimes it may be hard, but also open your other eye to see what’s happening around you, you never know, it may result in one hell of a picture.
2) Stop green boxing your photos
It’s attractive to go for the fully automatic “green box” option for your pictures and don’t get me wrong, sometimes you do get usable images with that. However if you get too stuck in that habit and rely on the dreaded green box, you’ll find that your pictures won’t get any better.
Learn about aperture, shutter speed, ISO and how all of these impact your pictures with the exposure triangle. If you really do need help, the P for PRO mode is infinitely better =)
3) Learn everything to do with your camera
Nothing is better than having your camera be an extension of your on body. Learn all the features of your camera and set up your camera exactly how you want it. This will definitely improve the quality of photos you take as well as how quickly you can adjust to different situations. Just don’t spend too much time on the in-camera effects….
4) Shoot something different, leave your comfort zone.
If you started off shooting landscapes, give portraits a try. If you are comfortable shooting animals, shoot some street photographs. It’s always good to break out of your comfort zone. Early in my photography career, I started shooting urban landscapes and still life, a friend suggested I shoot people and I haven’t looked back since, portraiture being one of the disciplines I enjoy shooting the most.
5) The best camera is the one you have with you
Always carry your camera around. If you own a DSLR and don’t want to lug it around, bring a compact. If you don’t have a compact camera, use your phone. There is never any shortage of pictures to be made on a day to day basis, but if you don’t have a camera with you, what’s the use? Learn to use your phone and how to take decent pictures with that as well. A cameraphone picture is definitely better than no picture at all, just stay away from those filters….
6) Stay the heck away from those filters
It really is too tempting to filter the crap out of your pictures to make it punchier, give it a hipsterriffic effect, or even just to make it better than the photo actually is. With the avent of apps like Instagram, mobile phone photos are almost always expected to be filtered to heck. In fact, I know some people who even replace their normal camera with an app which applies filters by default.
If you really must improve a photo, apps like Snapseed will help, letting you control how much you improve the contrast or saturation of your photo
7) Learn to shoot and process RAW
This is always up for debate. While you can go your whole life without ever using RAW, it’s never a bad thing to learn how it works or what it does. The benefits to shooting RAW are that you can extract more details from a blown highlight or from a shadow area than if you shoot in JPEG. Not only that, white balance adjustment is also much easier. With this, you should also learn how to use a basic raw processor like ACR or Lightroom.
8) Slow Down
Think before you shoot. Consider the framing of the shot, the right moment and try to get it as close to right as possible. This will eliminate unnecessary sifting through a machine gunned 10 photos of the same subject. Unless you are trying to make a .gif file, you don’t ever need to do that. Be more mindful of the end result, the process and the idea and you’ll definitely fall more in love with the art of photography.
9) Experiment with composition: Rule Of Thirds, Golden Ratio and Cropping
When we start shooting, we always go for the subject in the middle kind of composition because it’s natural. Why not frame according to the rule of thirds or the golden ratio? Portraits need not always be completely in frame, sometimes the crop to fill the frame makes for better pictures. Learn to lock in your focus and exposure with your camera and give that a go!
10) Never share all of your pictures on Facebook/Twitter
One of the biggest skills in photography is knowing which photos to share. No one likes to see an album of pictures with multiple photos of the same subject in very slightly different poses. Choose your best photos to show, be strict as you can and that’s half the battle of being a great photographer.
11) Change your perspective ever so often
Sometimes the you need to look at things from a different perspective to fully appreciate its beauty. Taking pictures from an exceptionally high angle, or even lower down will make the mundane a little more interesting. How about taking a photo from the perspective from your family pet? Get creative!
12) Forget the rules
Improving photography is not about a 12 step process to get better, it’s about challenging yourself and breaking through your comfort zone. Learn as much as you can from your mistakes and get honest opinions from your peers or even a more experienced photographer. Sometimes you just have to ditch the rules and follow your heart. Not particularly useful as a tip, but one day, you’ll understand what I’m saying.