“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”— Elliott Erwitt
This is one of my favorite photography quotes because of how much truth it holds. It also very inspirational as it says that every photographer has a different eye, and could recreate an ordinary scene in front of them into how they perceive it. This makes every photograph taken a little more unique and creative.
I won’t overwhelm you with photography tips in this article, but I would like to share some with you, especially if you’re just starting, or even if you’re just looking for a little bit of inspiration. I will share some very basic photography tips along with some different photo ideas you can try.
Shoot in Manual Mode
Don’t settle for shooting photographs in automatic mode. It may seem like it’s easier, or would make the photos come out much better, but as a true photographer you should adapt to changing camera settings in manual mode.
Let’s talk about the most important settings to control while shooting.
Aperture or F/stops
The lower the aperture is (e.g., f/2.8), the more light you are allowing to enter the camera. This is mainly used for dimly lit scenes. It also can be used to create a nice depth of field because it can make the backgrounds blurry and the a certain object or person in focus.
In this photo, you can tell that I used a low aperture to make this specific part of the branch in focus and blur the background.
If the aperture is high (e.g., f/16), there is less light entering the camera. This is mainly used for bright scenes and landscapes
For this landscape shot, I used a higher aperture for more depth.
Shutter speed is important as it is responsible for creating dramatic effects in photo, such as freezing an action, or blurring motion. If the shutter speed is short (e.g., 1/1000), it will capture an action in a certain moment. If the shutter speed is long (e.g., 30″), it captures that moment for that duration of time creating a blurred motion.
This photo was captured with a short shutter speed since it captured the subject in mid motion.
And here, a longer shutter speed was used to capture cars on a thruway.
ISO measures light sensitivity in photos. For bright or outdoor shots, a lower ISO setting is best. If it’s a scene with low light or night shots, a higher ISO setting is needed.
This setting is important to have on while shooting if you plan to open the photos in Photoshop later on. This setting makes photos easier to edit.
Back to the quote I shared at the beginning. Behind every photo, there’s a photographer who wanted to capture that moment the way their mind saw it. Now that we’re done going over all the technical stuff, let’s get into the creative aspect.
Don’t Overthink the Shot
The more you overthink the shot, the more your mind will become overwhelmed and that can take away your focus. Once you have an original idea, just shoot. Just shoot at the angle you think will be best. Always take multiple shots as well so when you’re looking at them later you can choose the best one.
Use this photo for example. I was walking around downtown with my friend, and we were trying to find cool spots to take photos for our photography class. I loved the art on the side of this building and how the lines in the center. The lines on this wall are vertical, and I knew that if i took a shot of the cars driving past with a slow shutter speed, it would add horizontal lines. To me this added more to photo than just a simple shot of the mural. The blurred car on the right side was just an added bonus to the photo, and made it more abstract.
Lighting Does Matter
To capture this portrait, I used hard light. This means the source of light I am using is closer to the subject to make distinct, hard-edged shadows. You can see this was also created by placing the light source on one side of the subject.
This photo exemplifies soft light. The light source was placed in the center, but farther away. This casts a shadow with soft edges. It is more of a soft focus portrait.
Using hard and soft light for portraits makes them much more dramatic, there are lots of ways to make them more unique.
Lines, Lines, Lines.
My eye generally focuses on shapes or lines, and I work around those to create cool photos. I would definitely recommend trying to take a series of photos using lines. Here are some examples of what I am taking about.
The panels of wood on the fence behind the subject are vertical lines, so I placed the subject standing straight up in the center to match. When someone looks a this photo, their eyes will automatically follow those lines. It makes the photo more pleasing to look at.
This can also be done with horizontal, vertical, and even curved lines. Using them to lead to a subject, or main object in the photo will really capture the audience’s attention.
Constantly Take Photos
Even if you don’t feel like taking out your camera every day to take photos, use your phone when you see something you like or catches your eye. It will get you into the habit of thinking like a photographer and how you want to position or angle things.
Set up fun photoshoots with your friends, and just have fun with it. Photography doesn’t always have to be serious. You can even have your own photoshoot at home using the self timer option on your camera. You can even take photos of your pets. Practice makes perfect.
Go out and shoot!
I hope you enjoyed reading my photography tips, and will use some of them the next time you take some photos. These photography tips are what really helped me become more inspired to take photos. They also made me feel more confident in the photos that I take.
Now go snap some cool shots!