Photography has been a part of my life for three years and my fascination with it grows every day. For me it has a double purpose – in a purely factual way it allows us to learn more about the world around us; but it turns into a pure art by serving as a thought-provoking reflection of the personal journey of the photographer. As if somebody took your hand and walked you through the stage on which their images evolved. It reaches its ultimate goal when it turns into storytelling – when a picture speaks more than all the words that we could use. For me it has grown from merely a hobby to something that excites and inspires me and provokes my curiosity; something that I am trying to get better at and want to know more about. Photography is embedded deeply in this blog and it goes hand by hand with the words that I use to tell the stories that I tell.
A friend of mine recently asked me to share my experience with learning how to take better pictures and at the same time make the whole process more enjoyable and fun.
So here are my ten tips for all the fellow photographers:
• Know your camera! Whether you shoot with a DLSR, System Camera or your phone it is absolutely essential to have control over it. Most picture-perfect moments occur spontaneously and you have only few seconds to act. And there is nothing as annoying as realizing post-factum that your perfect picture is actually a blurry/ over/ under-exposed mess. So read up your manuals and know the settings of your camera. I am shooting with Sony Nex 6 (the predecessor of the Alpha 6000) and can share the a very useful book explaining the camera with those of you have the same camera.
• Get the basics right! There are certain elements of the photography, such as shutter speed, aperture, focusing and exposure, that you need to have at least awareness about in case you want to develop your photography skills. There are many ways to get you started. I did an online photography course (www.iphotographycourse.com) which I was very happy with. I have also subscribed for the newsletters of a several photography blogs that provide photography tips, my favourite of which is the blog of David Peterson.
• Composition is key! After you get to know more about your camera you will soon discover by experience that composition plays a critical role. Knowing what the elements of an image are, how they relate to each other and how this impacts the overall mood of the image will help you create pictures that truly impact the viewer. My favorite book on composition that I can highly recommend is “The Photographer`s Eye” by Michael Freeman.
• Discover where your interests lie! By experimenting see what kind of topics you are most interested in – landscapes, architecture, portraits, etc. This way you will also know what kind of resources/ tips/ equipment to look for. During my first trip to India I discovered that I really love taking portrait pictures, but I also enjoy taking shooting landscapes (especially sunsets) and close-ups of flowers and animals.
• Bring your camera with you, experiment and enjoy the process! Every time when I go somewhere without my camera I deeply regret it, so I try to take it along as often as possible. I have also discovered that it takes me about half an hour to “warm up” by taking random pictures and playing with the settings until I shoot my “picture of the day”. Therefore I would highly encourage you to be playful and enjoy the process without being too outcome oriented – the results will come naturally.
• Read photography books/ magazines of your interest! One of my best friends gave me a book for my birthday that I am reviewing every other day and I learn so much from. It is called… Magazines/ photography websites, on the other hand, are a great way to keep yourself up to date with upcoming competitions, new trends, interesting tips and also a great way to keep yourself away from time-wasting sources, such as Facebook 😉
• Join a photography community where you can share your pictures and get inspired from others! It is a great way to filter your best images, think about what kind of text you want to add to your picture as well as to get feedback from fellow photographers and get inspired from their work. I am a member of an online picture sharing platform called ViewBug and what I enjoy mostly about it is the opportunity to review the work of professional photographers.
• Find user-friendly photo-editing software which can help you to perfect your pictures! I usually modify my pictures from my phone and use an app called “Snapseed”. What I really like about it is the speed with which I can get things done (I use the wireless network of my camera to transfer the pictures to my phone/iPad and then I directly edit them) and also the super user-friendly process (for some sort of reason I find all the buttons/ menus/ options in Photoshop and Lightroom a massive turn off).
• Competition gives you a healthy kick! Even though I know I am far away from being a professional, taking part in competitions gives me a drive and also motivates me to take the best picture. Additionally, involving you in communities where people share pictures and vote for each other can be a good way to stimulate yourself to get better (try Viewbug that I talked about above).
• Think about ways to utilize your pictures! Putting your pictures to use brings them to life and allows them to turn into art. I mainly use the pictures for my blog, but there are many other ways such as making photobooks, postcards, collages or my favorite – printing them in big size and decorating your house, but also gifting them to friends. Printing a picture of yours in big size and framing it beautifully can be a beautiful present and thinking which pictures would fit the personality/ interior of the house of your friend makes the process even more enjoyable and rewarding. Furthermore, I always believed that gifting something that came from your heart and making the time to think about it and work it out is a lot more valuable than simply purchasing a gift.
Hopefully these tips would help you not only to take better pictures, but also to enjoy the process and have fun with it 😉