charlotte bell photo
Charlotte Bell Photography

I'm a free lance photographer in Austin, TX and San Miguel de Allende, MX.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” — Henry David Thoreau

The challenge of photography is to capture these moments in life. Every location and every person is unique so my work is always new, interesting and exciting.

More tips for becoming a better photographer

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More tips for becoming a better photographer

More tips for becoming a better photographer are listed here.

Be introspective on your motivations.

Not everyone is into photography for the same reasons. Some want to get rich, others do it because they like it, others for fame or to document their kids growing up – you get the point. We all have different motives for doing photography.

Question your motives and your photography path will become clearer. Knowing your why is like having a loupe in front of a light source, it will help you focus and get where you want faster. I can’t tell you your reasons because only you know that.

In a nutshell: it’s your turn, what’s your reason for photography? What is it about photography that attracts you so much?

You are less limited by your gear than you think

Take it from a guy that lost $1000s in gear buying and selling, it’s not about what gear you have, it’s what you do with it. As a photographer, there are things that can keep you from doing your work, one of them is being too focused on your next purchase.

Believe it or not you are more creative with less than more. The puzzle-solving brain is much more creative when limited in some way or another. For example, if we could fly, we wouldn’t have invented airplanes.

In a nutshell: whatever gear you have, find new ways to use it. Plus having too much simply makes you miserable anyways (been there).

Let go of technical perfection

I think you should learn to expose correctly, learn when something is in focus, etc., and then let it go. I think too much time has been spent arguing on how a photo is slightly out of focus, or other small technicalities.

Some of the world’s most iconic photographs are slightly soft, some are outright blurry (Robert Capa – D.Day soldier), some even have white skies (Alberto Korda’s iconic image of Che Guevara – Guerriero heroico) amongst others.

Why didn’t you notice these imperfections? Well you didn’t seek them out, so you didn’t see them. The artistic qualities of a photograph are superior to its technical imperfections, so let go of them. Heck the Japanese have a concept, “Wabi-sabi” that basically means beauty in the imperfect.

So stop worrying about if you are 10000% in focus, if your white balance is the neutral greyest of neutral greys and start looking at what the photograph is about and how it makes you feel.

In a nutshell: let go of technical perfection, and focus on emotional impact.

 Think making photographs, not taking pictures

Being a photographer is an attitude, and one of the fundamental shifts that must happen is making the difference between taking a picture and making a photograph. What are you doing when you rise your camera up to your eye?

  • Are you taking a picture? In other words, are you content replicating what’s in front of the lens?
  • Or are you making a photograph? In other words using what’s in front of your lens as a starting point to communicate what’s inside you?

If you learned how to use your camera through the dPS Newsletter, you have the power the express yourself. Now you have to understand that you don’t take pictures, camera owners do that; you make them, photographers do that.

In a nutshell: start thinking like a painter, focus on making something, not taking.

Make your photographs sticky

Picture this with me for a moment: a beautiful van is driving down a road, a soothing voice enumerates all the features of the van, AC, GPS, windows, kids are smiling in the back. Ah, life is good, the van flows nicely in the streets. The van is making a turn when all of a sudden, a nasty crash happens. Shock!

“You didn’t see that coming” says the tagline. It wasn’t a commercial for a van, it was one for safety.

This commercial stuck in the minds of many because the ad spent its time building up a pattern (that of a typical van commercial) and then broke it. The human brain sees in terms of patterns and expects things to go in a certain way, when it doesn’t, it forces us to remember to be ready for next time.

You can also do that with photographs. You can create a pattern and then break it. Roland Barthes, a philosopher, named the pattern the Studium, and the pattern breaker the Punctum in his book Camera Lucida. So, if you want your images to stand out, seek the Punctum.

Meh. How many palm tree images have you seen in your lifetime? Well I’ve seen them a lot too, so in order to make this one stick out from the crowd, I decided to align the shadow of a tree that was behind me, to the tree in the middle in front of the camera. What started as an average palm tree image is now much more interesting because of that pattern breaker. It’s unexpected. You expected a complete tree trunk and I replaced it with a shadow.

In a nutshell: anticipate the expected in your photograph, then break it.

Much of your work is done in your head. It’s an attitude think. Have fun and break the rules.

Happy shooting.

 

 

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