I’ve had a heart for photography since I was 11 years old but recently starting pursuing it. I’m by no means a professional, but I wanted to share with you guys some tricks that have helped me throughout my photography career!
1. Get them close.
A lot of the time, I’ll pull my subject in close to me because full body shots are just awkward. That way, we can worry much less about posing our subjects. Closer shots most times just look cleaner, crisper and as if you know what you’re doing.
You rarely ever need your aperture to be all the way down to 1.8 or up to 22. It softens your photos and makes them look less professional. I try to keep mine from 4 to around 11. My camera, a Canon Rebel SL1 is the sharpest at 5.6, along with a lot of other cameras.
3. ALWAYS hold your left hand UNDER the lens!!!
This is my biggest pet peeve with photographers. Unless you are changing settings or looking at your shots, your left hand should never be on top of the lens. When it is and you need to zoom or use the thing on the front of the lens that puts your subject in focus (I’m not sure what it’s called, I don’t have one on my lens), you need to move your entire hand which takes more time. When you keep your left hand under the lens, you only need to move two fingers. This is crucial when shooting rapidly paced events such as concerts.
4. Learn to place things (and people).
Know what you want from your shot and where you want your subject(s). Do you want them hiding in a bush? Do you want them in an open field? Do you want them in the middle of a (unbusy) street? In a coffee shop with coffee in their hand? Always make sure things are out of the shot that don’t need to be there. For example, a person in the background just walking by. WAIT until they walk by to take the shot! Make sure nothing is a distraction of the main focus – the subject.
Placing a subject’s head in the middle of the frame is a huge no-no. Even with professional photographers, it still looks awkward and unprofessional. Keeping them to the side, the top or the bottom will produce much better and professional-looking shots. Even with architectural photography, you’re going to want to be careful with your framing! It’s everything.
6. Learn your camera and the settings.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Photography is much more than the click of a shutter. Learn your stuff! I would suggest taking a class or two or simply YouTubing certain things! It’s so important. Know equivalent exposure. When to have your f-stop and shutter at what. When to turn off AWB. What focus mode to use and when, etc.
7. Learn to edit.
Editing is most times half of photography. Just look at Brandon Woelfel’s before and after images… Holy moly. I think I’ve only used one image that had no edit, but be careful because over-editing can make the photo look worse than with no edit. My personal favorite editing app is VSCO!
You (most times) never want the background of a shot to compete with the subject. This is where proper aperture comes into play. I personally prefer my portrait shots with low aperture so the background is out of focus and doesn’t compete with the subject. Also, be cautious not to place your subject in a place where something is running behind their head or is sticking up from it.
This is a good shot of my subject, but I should have placed her somewhere where a board wasn’t running through the back of her head.
9. If your photo is blurry or soft, it’s (most times) not your camera.
Either you didn’t shoot in RAW and you’ve edited your photo too much, you had your focus in the wrong spot, your shutter was too slow, your f-stop wasn’t where it should’ve been… There are a thousand factors. Sharpness is one of the most important factors of any photo.
10. Keep it simplistic.
Photos that are too busy that the viewer doesn’t know where to look are unappealing. The simpler the better.
11. The most important one, do what YOU like!
These are not rules, just simple tips and tricks that have helped me! What makes a photographer great is their uniqueness. You do what makes YOU feel satisfied and happy with a shot. Just keep practicing and keep being willing to learn!