Tips on how to become a better photographer

Here are some Tips on how to become a better photographer.

The best lessons are the ones you learn the hard way. Here are 10 photography tips I learned after lots of frustration, discouragement, money lost, and forever lost opportunities. These tips are not very common, I never heard them hence you probably never heard of them either. I hope they help you avoid the mistakes I made, and help you improve your photography.

Always have a camera in your pocket.

How many times have you been a situation where you kinda wanted to take your camera bag, but ended up not doing so because of the thought of lugging the bag, or even the DSLR itself?

It’s understandable. Do you want to take that DSLR everywhere you go? Who would want to dangle that thing while going to the grocery store? Nah. But one thing I’ve learned, is that images don’t wait for you. I’ve been through too many “I wish I had my camera with me” scenarios to know so.

One of the best things I did as a photographer was to get myself a pocket camera and take it everywhere with me. It freed me photographically, and it made me stop thinking in terms of “photo shoots” and start thinking in terms of “life photography”.

While the small compact ended up being my main camera, you don’t have to do the same, but do get a pocket camera. You have no idea how many images pop up in otherwise mundane situations like grocery shopping, or taking a stroll at the park.

Your background is as important as the subject

When making an image, there’s bound to be a subject. But the subject is rarely alone, there’s the background to deal with. When looking through the viewfinder and you spot your subject, the first thing to do is not to press the shutter release button….it’s to pay attention to your background first.

There’s only two things a background can do for your subject: it can either bring attention to it, or detract from it. Say you are having a conversation with a friend, you wouldn’t want someone else’s voice distracting from your own, would you? So why let your subject be distracted by the background?

In a nutshell: be attentive to your background, ask about every object, line, color: Does this distract or enhance what I am trying to focus on?

Everything is light

What is the first thing you notice when you see your child or significant other? A person, right? Well that’s fine and all if you are dealing with them as another person, but when it comes to photography, you are dealing with LIGHT, so you have to train yourself to see everything in terms of LIGHT.

Did you ever notice how the face lights up when someone is watching TV? Did you notice that you feel differently when a landscape is shot at twilight versus dawn? Do you notice how there’s ugly shadows in the eye area when there’s harsh light?

The examples are infinite, but the skill starts when you force yourself to pay attention to the light. In the image above of the building, I was going to the bank and it was pretty overcast out, and I looked up. While I didn’t go to the bank to get this image, I knew what to expect (soft light, nice reflections of the clouds) and simply looked up and made the image.

In a nutshell: start noticing light, its qualities, the shadows it makes, the shapes it forms.


Treat your work as wine

Some photographs are either made by luck, or maybe you’re just a genius and you didn’t know it. I’ll vote for the second option because I like you. In all seriousness though, while your best photos might be made tomorrow, you could potentially have gold in your older work.

Fact is, you might have something that you wouldn’t know the value of until you look at it with more mature eyes.

I wouldn’t have seen them if I didn’t revisit the work. The image above was shot 10 years ago. Granted, there were only a few nuggets of gold in the whole pile, but who says no to gold? Plus after time has passed you won’t be as emotionally connected to the images, making you able to judge the images more objectively. Sometimes I go through my old stuff and I can’t believe what I missed! Or I am amazed at how I can recover images I believed were ruined.

In a nutshell: your photos are like wine, they get better with age, but you have to dig them up

Shoot with your heart first

You know your stuff. You know what aperture is, when to bump up your ISO, you know how to expose well. But when you look at your images, you just can’t put your finger on what exactly is missing. Let me suggest that it’s the heart element that’s missing. You are not emotionally engaged with your work.

Photography is not about capturing what’s out there in the world, it’s about capturing what’s inside your heart. Shoot what matters to you and put more of yourself in the images.

In a nutshell: shoot how you feel, your images will be more powerful. Plus, humans are hardwired to relate emotionally.