Over the last few months my photography has started to improve, so I decided to share the things that helped me. Since posting my safari pictures, my account: Rapunzel’s Passport Instagram has massively increase in followers within the last week. I’ve been enjoying this social media site, being able to retell my African adventure by photos and sharing my story.
Here’s some of the basics for getting a good photo.
Like with any skill, the only way to improve is to practice. Get out there with your camera whenever you can, and try lots of different things. Why not find something interesting locally and go out with your camera. Don’t delete any of your pictures, and upload all of your pictures when you are back home, analysing the photos to decide what works and what doesn’t. There’s no hard or fast rule, and I’d suggest always opting for what you like, instead of what may be fashionable or technically correct. I think if you primarily take photos in the way you enjoy and things you like, that passion will shine through. Trying to just copy what others do, will actually become boring in the long run. Take pictures for yourself first, as you’re the one who is important.
Invest in a good photography book or do a photography course. I did a day course a few months ago, and now I never use the auto setting. I feel so much more in control of my pictures, and I feel much more creative. It’s easier to get the picture you envision when you know how to change the settings. There are still moments, when I think I don’t know what setting is best here, for example when I was taking sunset pictures. I just played around with my settings and tried to find out what worked for me. That reminds me I need to go and read that section in my book, so I’ll know what to do for next time.
3. Look With Your Eyes
You’ll hear it time and time again from the professionals, to stop looking at the subjects through your viewfinder. Set the camera down and look andsee what it is you are looking at. Enjoy the moment, seek the parts of the scene that you find interesting and think how you’re going to feature them in your photo.
Don’t despair if you can’t capture the beauty of what you see with your eyes, after you’ve pressed the shutter. The beauty of the place is more than what you see, it’s what you smell, hear and feel. I’m often surprised after being disappointed with a shot, as I’m feeling unable to capture how I see it, that some time later I’ll look at the picture and be able to see the beauty I first saw.
I also think it’s important to have a no-camera day, especially when travelling. Take a break from it and enjoy your trip, make “mental photographs”.
4. Look from different angles
When I was in Amalfi, I struggled to get an interesting picture of the Amalfi church, I didn’t feel I could get close enough, and there was too much noise around. I later saw another photographer’s shot and they had included all the surrounding cafes and it looked amazing. Sometimes taking a few steps back makes for a completely different picture, it’s not all about isolating what you want, but sometimes about adding extra. Also try standing at top of steps, or crouch down to take your shot, so as to experiment with different things.
Depending where the sun is, will give you a different effect. The rule is normally to get the sun behind you for the picture, however having the sun in front of you can give a nice dark effect on some buildings. Experiment and see what you like. Sometimes we have no choice about the time of day we are visiting something, and it’s just a case of making the best of it.
6. The Camera
I don’t think you need the latest, greatest, most expensive camera to get the best picture. It’s much more to do with your skills. It probably goes without saying that a professional photographer will take a better shot with a point and shoot than a beginner with the most expensive DSLR. The most important thing is finding a camera you are comfortable with and that you enjoy using.
7. Have Fun
If it becomes a chore then I don’t think you’ll get the best pictures. It’s OK to put your camera away and just have fun. You don’t need to take a picture of everything to remember it. It’s also not a competition. Photography is subjective, and what one person likes is not necessarily what others do. I’m frequently surprised that some of my favourite pictures don’t get as many likes, as other pictures that I think are just average.
As I’ve been learning, there is no magic formula to take a perfect picture and even when you think you have, others may not. That’s OK, as in the most part the person who will always enjoy your photography the most is yourself.