6 Easy Photography Techniques to Diversify Your Portfolio

6 Easy Photography Techniques to Diversify Your Portfolio

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In today’s world of digital photography there is an even greater demand and possibility to capture unique and different photos. Over time, every photographer will develop their own “cheat sheet” of techniques that they find pleasing, and more importantly, that their clients can use. There are numerous techniques and styles to diversify your portfolio, but here are six of my personal favourites to get you started.

KavDadfar_Tips-6

1 – Put Yourself in the Picture

You see a beautiful vista and think the only thing that can improve it is having a person in the photo, to convey a sense of scale. But, you haven’t seen a single person in hours and are unlikely to see anyone anytime soon. This is when you can be your own model, and put yourself in the photo.

  1. Simply set your camera on a tripod and attached your cable release.
  2. Work out where and how you will appear in the photo (sitting down, leaning, etc.).
  3. Compose the photo and take a trial shot to ensure the lighting and composition work.
  4. Set the self-timer on your release for enough seconds to allow to get to the spot you need to get to (I find that 10 seconds is more than enough time for me).
  5. Press the release start the timer, then get into position (take your time, you can always add more time if you need to).
  6. Look at the result on your camera and make adjustments as needed (where you stand, etc.).
  7. Repeat the process until you are happy with the result.

It will take a bit of trial and error, but the key is to make sure the photo looks natural. The great thing about putting yourself in the shot is that you also have a model release (providing there are no other people in the photo).

2 – Tilt-Shift Photography

Without getting into huge detail, this type of photography, also known as diorama effect or miniature faking, is essentially a technique that uses the illusion of blurring parts of the photograph, to turn a real world scene into something that looks like a miniature model. This effect can either be created while taking the photograph using a tilt-shift lens, or more commonly, in post-production using Photoshop or Lightroom (there are plenty on tutorials showing the step-by-step process available).

Tilt-shift photography is a great way to add diversity to your cityscapes.

Tilt-shift photography is a great way to add diversity to your cityscapes.

Photos that are taken from a high view point looking down work best (not directly from above), and you need to ensure that the main point of interest is sharp, as that will work in contrast to blurred parts of the image. Experiment with some of the photos you have and you may be surprised by the outcome.

3 – Silhouettes

One of the great aspects of photographs that utilize silhouettes is that it simplifies the photograph to a basic level, of showing the subject in a two dimensional format. There are no textures, just a general outline of the subject. To capture successful silhouettes you need to find a subject that is easily recognizable in this basic format (i.e. people, buildings, etc.).

Simply compose the photograph keeping the sun in front of you (it doesn’t have to be behind the subject), and if your silhouette is not dark enough, stop down the shutter speed a couple of stops (shooting in Manual mode, or use -2 Exposure Compensation in Aperture or Shutter Priority) until you get the desired effect. Remember to make sure you turn off your flash. The best time for silhouettes is at the beginning or end of the day, when the sun is low in the sky.

Successful silhouette photographs need to be a form that people will easily translate.

Successful silhouette photographs need to be a form that people will easily translate, something recognizable.

4 – Using Motion Blur

Motion blur is a truly fantastic way of adding dynamism to a photograph. Whether it’s the blur of movement of objects, people walking, playing sport or dancing, water, clouds in the sky, or even light trails from passing cars at night, a photograph with the correct motion blur can stand-out in any portfolio. Digital photography makes it incredibly easy to experiment with motion blur. The key is to ensure that it looks intentional, and not like camera shake.

To capture any sort of motion blur you will need to play around with the shutter speed. Put simply, the slower the shutter speed, the more movement you will capture, thus meaning more blur. Depending on the speed of the object, and also your creative vision, you will need a different shutter speed. Motion blur usually works best if there are sharp parts in a photo that contrast against the blur, so when using slow shutter speeds you will often need a tripod.

Motion blur is a great way to convey movement and speed and can add real dynamism to your images.

Motion blur is a great way to convey movement and speed and can add real dynamism to your images.

5 – Bleached Effect

This is one of the Lightroom preset effects that I love using on certain type of photos. Usually for portraits where the light is fairly flat and uninteresting, and I feel the photo feels gritty, harsh, and could benefit from muted tones. There are lots of different preset effects in Lightroom, and sometimes it’s worth having a flick through them to see if there are any that can enhance a photo. Like always, the great thing is that you can always revert to the original.

There are plenty of presets on Lightroom. Have flick through them and you might find something that enhances the photo.

There are plenty of presets on Lightroom. Have flick through them and you might find something that enhances the photo.

6 – Unique Angles

Capturing unique photos is becoming more and more difficult, so sometimes you really have to think beyond the obvious eye-level shot. Get above objects and they look completely different. Get close to them and you start to capture details that people normally don’t see. Crouch down and capture a low angle, suddenly the scene takes on a completely different look. Next time you have captured the first photo, to go beyond that and capture a few more, but at completely different angles.

I had to stand on my chair to capture this photo.

I had to stand on my chair to capture this photo.

This list is by no means all encompassing. Infrared photography, HDR, black and white photography, the list goes on and on. The important thing is to experiment and try out new techniques that you enjoy, find pleasing, and also help the final outcome. Over time you will build up a set of techniques and you will actively take photos for use with those techniques.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite techniques? Share them below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and travelling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, American Express and many more. Follow his travels and imagery on Instagram and Facebook.

  • very well done article 🙂 I’ll be playing with the bleaching effect very soon.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Glad you enjoyed it Adam.
    Regards

  • Great article, Kav. Question: when you “flick through” develop presets, are they additive or do you get the effect of just the preset you finish with?

  • Kav Dadfar

    Hi Jim, the easiest way to see the effects of the presets is to just move the mouse over it (without clicking). In the preview window it gives you a preview of the effect and then if you like it if you click on the preset it will add all of the settings to the photo and basically show you the final outcome. You can always tweak this or revert back to the original. Hope this answers your question.

    Regards
    Kav

  • Thanks for taking the time to reply, Kav. I guess that answers my question…clicking on multiple presets is “additive.” I’ll just hover over them and check the preview window from now on. Thank you. Jim

  • rob Lamont

    Here is something i did, although it is not a digital shot, the negative has been scanned and converted into a digital file. This is what 35 mm film looks like when used in a 645. Has anyone else heard of doing this, just for fun, and i was actually surprised at how the film turned out.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Sorry Jim, completely missed answering the actual questions. Yes it is additive. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    What a lovely image. I must say I haven’t used film in around 10 years but it does bring back some great memories of my university days in dark rooms! Great work and keep doing it.

  • No worries! I figured it out. 🙂

  • rob Lamont

    I find film the best medium when there is a lot of exposure latitude in a shot, and. Of course you also get exactly what is in front of the lens, not what a computer thinks will look good, don’t start me!

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