These days nearly everyone owns a powerful HD camera, whether it be on their phones, a simple point-and-shoot, or a DSLR. Everyday the internet is flooded with images from these different devices: selfies, our pets, our loved ones, maybe some quick snaps from a friend’s performance the other night. Unfortunately, a large number of these pictures suck. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that photography has made its way into our daily lives and I’m happy to see interest in the craft grow, but there’s some easy-to-follow guidlelines to start taking your photography to the next level, no matter what kind of camera you’re using.
1. Adjust Your Lighting
All photography is based on light. It may sound obvious but this is the first thing you need to take into consideration when you set out to take a photo. Try to dentify a single light source, use natural light when available, and
avoid the built-in flash whenever possible. The technique for good lighting is diffusing it so it’s soft and really gives a glow to your subject and doesn’t wash them out like a flash mounted on top of your camera would.
2. Compose Your Frame
Composition refers to the frame of you image and how your subject appears in it. The basics have been applied to painting it’s been around for hundreds of years. A good starting point is the Rule of Thirds, which are two imaginary lines running vertical in your frame and two running horizantal so as to create three vertical and horizontal sections of the same size. Then the idea is to place important parts of your subject onto these lines, this generally leaves you with a more balanced image and a comfortable amount of lead room in each direction.
It’s also a good exercise in composition to simplify your subject. Make a decision as to what it is you’re taking a picture of then move with your feet to fill the frame with the elements you want.
3.Take Lots of Photos
After you have a light source and an idea of how you’re going to compose your photos, start taking lots of them. Take your camera with you wherever you go, if people ask you why you have a camera with you, say “It’s to take pictures with.” and leave it at that. Don’t leave it in the bag, invest in a comfrotable neck strap and bring it everywhere. Bring it to shows, try to get in free by telling them you’re the photographer for the night, sometimes it’ll work! After taking lots of photos try to sit down and go through them, which ones came out the best? Why? Which photos really capture the feeling of the moment or whatever it is you were looking for? Uploading dozens of photos tends to turn people off and make them less likely to look through everything you snapped. Take lots of photos but choose the cream of the crop to put on display.
Theory will only get you so far. There’s no better way to learn your camera and the techniques behind photography than by just going out and playing with all the settings and exposure levels.
4.Keep it RAW
This rule of thumb is especially easy to abuse today, with basically every kind of camera coming with preset filters and an Auto function. Resist the temptation! You must ask yourself, what would ODB do? You want to have complete creative control over your camera, so keep it in manual mode whenever possible. If your camera offers different formats to save files as, choose RAW.
RAW files store much more information than your typical Jpegs which gives you a lot more freedom to make adjustments to your exposure and color correction before exporting them to a Jpeg. Although I try to make as little adjustments as possible in post. Each time you make an adjustment you degrade the image a little bit, this goes doubly for phone filters which rarely ever help produce better photos. Try to get the photo as close to perfect in-camera to save you the hassle of trying to salvage it in post.
This first photo was a little underexposed, but since I shot it in RAW I was able to correct the exposure before exporting it to a Jpeg to share with people.
5.JUST GO SHOOT!
When it comes down to it photography is just another art form, and with any art form the rules are meant to be broken. It helps to know what rules you’re breaking though is the thing. No amount of study will make up for you not going out and taking pictures though. Just take a thoughtful approach, make decisions as to what you want before you snap a photo. Take your camera with you everywhere and take photos everyday. Setting correct exposure will start to click, your eye for photography will get sharper, and your photo’s suck factor will be minimal!