10 Ways to Add Variety to Your Digital Photography

10 Ways to Add Variety to Your Digital Photography


Yesterday I wrote about how taking lots of shots can be one way to increase your chances of getting good results from your digital photography. However you don’t want to just end up with multiple shots of the same thing so here’s 10 techniques for adding diversity to your digital photography:

1. Shoot your subject at different focal lengths – using the zoom on your photos will not only change how close your subject appears but it will also change the depth of field (ie the blurring of the background). It also allows you to shoot from different distances which can really impact how relaxed your subject is (there’s nothing better than a photographer in your face to make you tense up!)

2. Shoot your subject from different angles
– it’s amazing how much you can change a shot by getting on your knees or taking a few steps to the side! (more on this here)

3. Shoot using different formats
– there are different ways to grip a digital camera. The two main ones are horizontally or vertically but you can also get into all kinds of diagonal ways to do it. Mix it up.

4. Avoid the Group Shot Blink – When photographing people try to take multiple shots, especially group photos when someone is always bound to be blinking

5. Use continuous exposure modes
– most digital cameras these days will have a mode that allows you to shoot multiple frames quickly. So instead of taking one shot at a time you can take multiple ones by simply holding the shutter longer. This can be very effective at capturing people in that second after they post (quite often when they are looking a little more themselves).

6. Move your Subject around – If it’s appropriate move your subject around. The pictures at the top of this post are from a session of photo I took of my brother. I love the series because it puts him in a variety of poses in quick succession (we shot 50 or so shots all in 10 minutes). They make a great series.

7. Try Exposure Bracketing
– this is a technique that Pro photographers use to make sure they get the perfect exposure. Some cameras have a built in bracketing function but with others you’ll need to do it manually. The basic principle of it is to take numerous shots in a row and purposely shooting them at a variety of exposures. Start with under exposing them and gradually dial up your exposure levels until your last shot is over exposed. I’ll write a tutorial on this at some point in the future but in the mean time hit your digital camera’s instruction book to see if they have a way to do it automatically.

8. Experiment with different ‘modes’
– even the most basic point and shoot cameras have different ‘shooting modes’. These are usually things like ‘portrait’, ‘landscape’, ‘sports’, ‘night’ etc. Sometimes it’s worth flicking through these to take shots at different settings. What these modes do is simply change the basic settings (like aperture, shutter speed, ISO) – all things that can change the look and feel of your shot considerably

9. Play with your Flash
– try turning your flash off or forcing it to fire in shots. Sometimes adding flash to a scene where there’s lots of light behind your subject is essential (even though your camera might not think it needs it). This stops those silhouette shots where it looks like you’re trying to hide the identity oyour subject.

10. Tell a story
– rather than trying to sum up a whole occasion in one shot think of the shots you take as an opportunity to tell a story. I sometimes have the sequence of shots in mind as I’m doing a shoot – look for a beginning shot, a middle shot and an end one. It’s almost like a movie but with still shots.

One last tip: when it comes to shooting lots of images – take note of what you’re doing. One of the problems with shooting lots of shots at different exposures and in different modes and settings is that you get home to your computer and find a brilliant shot but can’t remember how you did it. Many cameras will store your settings in the images for you to look at later but I find it is sometimes helpful to even jot down what I do as I take images or at least to make a special mental note of what I’m doing as I go so that I can reproduce the types of shots in future.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Kendall November 4, 2009 03:04 am

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  • Ashleigh November 22, 2007 03:28 am

    Great tip on #4. Any suggestions on how to help your subject keep their eyes open for the shot? Or is it the timing on the photographer's part??

  • Kathy Murphy November 20, 2007 03:04 am

    Thanks for the great tips. As per your tip, I find that when I download my photos to PS, I just click on edit and then properties, and all the shooting info is there in the little box.

  • Will November 19, 2007 09:01 pm

    Related to point 8 - One of things I do most is vary the aperture to change the depth of field. f2.8 gives a completely different shot to f22!

  • Bilka November 19, 2007 02:25 pm

    Commenting on your tip to take notes: I just began to use Google ® Maps for just that purpose and find it a great place to keep notes. When out shooting personal enjoyment photographs or fine art images I set up a custom map of any area or several areas that I shot in with little place markers to remind me of the EXACT location the images were taken. Another nice feature is that when you place a marker it comes along with a dialogue bubble/window that you can keep notes in on the shot, time of day, exposure, sun location, weather... I have a GPS locator in three of my cameras that gives me the geo-coordinates of where the image was taken. This mapping app is even better because of the note-taking feature that goes along with the place markers. It is invaluable if you want to return to a location to record changes over time.

    This system allows me to either publish my maps publicly or keep them private. I can also open my notes anywhere I have an Internet connection on any device that will display the Internet, including my cell telephone. If you post your images on Google's ® free photo share site you can connect images to the place markers too.

    Everyone reading this should know that I am not connected with Google ® or endorsing the use of that firm’s services. This is just another tool, which happens to be free, that I found useful in my work and play image making.

    Fiat Lux!


  • Douglas E. Welch November 19, 2007 09:22 am

    A great list of hints and one I will need to refer to before I go shooting next time.

    I especially dislike shooting flash shots due to the unnatural lighting effects. I regularly experiment with shooting long exposures using a tripod. You can gain some striking photos and in many cases the motion blur adds an action and energy to the photo you might have missed with a stop-action flash shot.


  • jeroen November 19, 2007 05:00 am

    Soooo good! thanks alot!