Every now and then I’m asked “How do I become a better photographer?” or “What tips do you have to improve my photos?” While I’m still learning the craft myself, and am certainly no expert in the field, I have learnt some things along the way. I’d like to take this opportunity to share some tips and advice that I’ve found useful in developing my photography skills.
Tip 1: Learn The Basics
There’s been many a metaphor on the importance of building a solid foundation before moving onto more grandeur things. And you know why? Because it’s true! And especially so in photography. All the technicality involved can be quite overwhelming to newcomers – I know it was to me. I remember thinking early on with my first DSLR: “Why would anyone want to shoot in Manual mode?! Think of the things that could go wrong!”
But once you’ve mastered the essentials, they’ll quickly becoming second nature – allowing you to focus attention on other key aspects such as lighting and composition.
I’ll likely write a future article covering such topics as: Focusing, Depth of Field, ISO, Shutter Speed & Aperture. But for now, there is an abundance of fantastic, free, resources out there on the web just waiting to be consumed. And that’s exactly how I myself learnt.
You’ll be able to find online tutorials on any area you are looking to develop in. I personally am deeply grateful to both Mike Browne and Tony Northrup for sharing a wealth of lessons and information via their YouTube channels. I found Mike fantastic at explaining technical concepts in a non-confronting, relaxed way. And Tony is the same, offering plenty of personal insights in well-produced video tutorials.
Tip 2: Consider Composition
Modern smartphones are amazing – they helped to re-invigorate my passion for photography. But with practically everyone now owning one, so too is everything being photographed. And if you’re looking improve your photos, you’re also going to be looking to stand out from the plethora of comparable images. And that’s where compositional elements are key:
- Level Horizon: Make sure it’s straight! It’s simple, but many photos I see have crooked horizons, which are visually off-putting and distract from the authority of the image
- Rule Of Thirds: Chances are, you’ve heard of this one. Rather than place the photo’s subject dead centre, try positioning it to one third or where third lines intersect. But shh, I don’t always follow this rule myself. Rules are meant to be broken, right?
- Leading Lines: Look for opportunities to frame your scene such that say a river or road enters your photo from one corner, and leads the viewers eye along, into the photo to create interest
- Foreground, Middleground and Background: I’d like to utilise these concepts more as I further my own skills. So often my photos have an interesting middleground and background, but they lack a strong foreground, which helps in adding that extra layer of depth to your images
Tip 3: Ask For Feedback
I’ve found that the best way to better my photography, or anything for that matter, is to ask for feedback, and to then learn from that. I might love the look of one of my photos, but in reality it’s going to be viewed by other people more than it is by me. Quite often I show one of my images to my girlfriend or family and ask them what do they think of it? What do they like? And more importantly, what don’t they like?
But that’s just the half of it. It’s great to know what’s good, and not-so-good about your photos, but you need to be able to take the feedback on board. To apply it next time you’re out shooting and editing.
I’m not saying that you need to mould your photographic style to what others think looks good. But rather, to welcome criticism and then learn from its insights when they are of value and can better your artistry.
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More tips to be featured in an upcoming Part II