The popularity of digital cameras and smartphones with built-in cameras means most people are now able to take good photographs. A decade ago photography was quite a technical art, but technology has made it very easy to take pictures without having to understand how to operate a camera. This can be frustrating for the serious photographer, as it means you have to work harder to get your pictures noticed.
Perhaps some following ideas will help you to make your photographs stand out from the crowd.
1) Learn how to compose a picture.
Many people fail to fill the frame with their subject or make a picture pleasing to the eye. It can be hard to appreciate what the photographer is trying to show you in some cases. Learning the rules of composition is an easy way to give your pictures a more professional appearance. Looking at classic paintings and works of art is a great way to develop your eye.
2) Change your vantage point.
Shooting from eye level all the time means your pictures will often look the same. Crouching down low or looking down from a high vantage point can make a picture far more exciting. For example, getting down low when photographing small children allows you to see the world from their perspective.
3) Experiment with close-ups.
Close-up photography isn’t as difficult as many people think, and it’s another interesting way to view subjects in a different way. Subjects like food are great for close-up photography. Getting very close to everyday objects can disguise what they are and give pictures a surreal quality.
4) Shoot HDR (High Dynamic Range) images.
Shooting HDR images allows you to capture a greater range of tonal detail than a camera can normally record in one picture. Photo editing software can be used to combine a series of shots taken at different exposure settings for a stunning effect. Some smartphones have a feature to create HDR images using filters. For my iPhone, the Camera+ app is my favorite.
5) Experiment with street photography.
The photographer Cartier-Bresson created some of the most famous images of all time with his unique style of street photography. Capturing everyday life with your camera is a skill that takes time to develop, but it can produce some great results. Good street photographers always have their cameras at the ready and are able to react quickly to capture the essence of a scene.
6) Understand the impact of light.
Photography is the process of capturing light, and it’s important to remember this if you want to improve your pictures. Always pay attention to the direction and angle of the light and how it impacts your subject. Professional landscape photographers often spend hours waiting for the light to change before shooting. Portrait photographers have to understand how to position a subject so that light is flattering to their features.
7) Experiment with black and white photography.
Taking the element of color out of your pictures forces you to look at things in a different way. Black and white images rely on tone, texture and form, and paying attention to these when you look at a subject can lead to very interesting results. Some digital cameras allow you to shoot in black and white, but you can use photo editing software to remove color if you don’t have this facility.
When I first became serious about photography, in the early 1970s, I followed some advice that told be to shoot only black & white for one year. In addition to that, I kept note on exposure and other camera settings, lighting conditions, and most importantly, my vision for each photo that I took — in other words, why did I take the picture, in the first place. I also learned to develop and my film, and make my own prints. Today, much of that work is done for us — the EXIF data, recorded with each digital image, contain all the technical data. Software is available to create our own digital darkrooms, without the need to mix the chemicals and allot space for a darkroom. However, the key element — the vision — is still the key element. Why did you take the picture, and how do the results compare to what your goal was? We need to study our work, and learn to make the necessary adjustment, so that the final result match the original vision.