Photography can be a job or a passion.
It can be work, or it can be fun.
But it is for sure a journey.
No matter how good you are or how long you have been doing it, photography is forever evolving. There is always something new to learn: new techniques, new equipment, and new places and subjects.
Here are three things, with photo examples, that I think have made the most impact on developing and evolving my own photography–allowing me to take better photos.
Tip No. 1: Composition is king
It stills boils down to composition. When you look at your photos, the subject should be obvious.
Lose the distractions and focus on one subject that tells the story. Use the rule of thirds to place your subject where it will have the most impact, and leading lines to draw the viewer’s attention to the subject.
In this image the subject is obvious. The rule of thirds places the horizon at the top third, and the subject fills the lower quadrant. The contrast of the orange and blue and the angle of the wheelbarrow draw your eye immediately to the subject.
Tip No 2: Slow down!
In an early workshop I attended with Great Escape, the instructor used a phrase that has stuck with me: “You have to make the photo, not take the photo.” This really is the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.
Take your time, walk around looking for the best angle and light. Look at your viewfinder.
Check for clutter or unwanted items in your shot – a pole, a garbage can, a random person moving in or out of the frame – then move a little to the left or right. Often you can eliminate these items with just a small movement. Look at your edges to make sure they are clean – no stray branch or person infringing on your image. A few minutes here will save you a lot of cropping and fixing later.
This could have been a great image if I had been more careful. Note the woman in the red suit at the bottom. Her feet are cut off and she’s not the subject of the photo: she just spoils it and makes it look like a snapshot and not a professional image shot with intent.
Tip No. 3: Shoot from different angles
In this age of digital photography, we don’t have to be frugal with our shots. So, snap away!
Shoot from the front, the back, the side. Shoot high, shoot low. Experiment. Check your screen, make adjustments, and shoot some more. You can change your image entirely by going down low – even getting right on the ground – and shooting up, or the other way around. Take some shots close in and some wider and more distant. Shoot vertical and shoot horizontal.
When you find a unique way to showcase a familiar landmark or site, it will be more interesting and more saleable.
Getting down low and close to shoot this field of tulips totally changed the image from this:
Most of all, like many things worth pursuing, the more you practice and the more you shoot, the better your photographs will become. So grab your camera and go!