Monday, 4 May 2015

3 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Photography (+ a tip)

1 // think of composition

Before you snap away, try to get a quick impression of what the scene will look like confined by a square.

Use your viewfinder!  But don't "look" through it.  See it as a flat picture.  Is the subject centered?  Is it cut off?  Does it look better if it's little bit to the right or left?  Should you have more space around it or step in to cut out the extra stuff?

Trust me, being mindful of composition before you take the photo will pay off.

2 // pay attention to background

You're probably looking at the subject, and that totally makes sense.  But you know what flatters the subject and makes it look more awesome than it already is?  A swell background.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy.  Just be mindful of what is going on behind your subject.  Is it distracting?  What kind of mood does it set?  Is there something in the background that takes away from the subject, like a pole jutting out, or a moving car?

If you don't want to mess around, pick a wall or other solid surface (like a sheet or a door) to minimize distractions and effortlessly bring the eye in to the subjects.

3 // pay attention to lighting

Lighting can make such a difference!

If you're doing portraits, flattering lighting does a better job, in my opinion, than professional makeup or airbrushing.  Certain lighting is naturally beautifying.

If you've dabbled in photography already, you know photographers like to go on about "the golden hour" or "the magic hour"--that is, the hour just before sunset (and sometimes sunrise, too).  That's when the light is soft and diffused, so there are no harsh shadows or unseemly spotlights on flaws.

If you're shooting in the daytime, find shade for your subject to provide an even skin tone, without too much bright light or too much shadow.

On the other hand, maybe you want harsh lighting.  Maybe you want to bring out the crags and texture in a landscape or the careworn lines on an old man's face.

And where do you want the light to be coming from?  Where is the main light source (either the sun or lamp)?  You may want backlighting, or it may throw your subject in shadow.  Just be aware of the light and you'll have more control over the finished product.

4 // put down the camera

Take it from someone who knows.  Unless you're doing an gig or an assignment, don't forget to be in the moment.  Put down your camera and experience it; don't get too wrapped up in trying to document life while it's happening or you'll find out, to your dismay, that you spent all this time trying to capture it instead of live it.


So in summary: composition, background, lighting.

Have you ever heard of any of these tips before?  What have you done to improve your photography?

Try keeping these three things in mind the next time you take photos, then come back here and share them with everybody!

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