I have lost track of the number of times I have heard complete strangers compliment me on having a great fancy camera that takes “great pictures”. Initially, I used to be quick to the defense and try and get a word in on how I am a professional photographer and hence have some level of skill in my craft. But now I just nod, smile and quickly move away. Unfortunately, the reality is that a lot of photographers (and others) think that by having the latest and greatest fancy camera, they have the ability to take better photos.
The truth of the matter is that you don’t need the latest equipment or fancy qualifications to be a good photographer. Photography is a creative art form and like any art form, it takes a lot of hard work, practice, and perseverance to get really good at taking great pictures. Sure, you need to really understand your gear and what it can and cannot do. But there are loads of simple, non-technical stuff you can do to improve your photography as well.
Here are some non-gear related tips that will help you take better photographs.
#1 Take your camera everywhere
You never know what might be around the corner, be it close to home or on your far away travels. Life is unpredictable and things change in a split second. There’s always something interesting to photograph. You just need to open your eyes, look around and be ready to snap that shot. And additionally, make sure your phone or camera of choice is within easy reach ready for that shot.
#2 Take pictures every day
Overnight success is a myth. The sooner you realize that the more at peace you will have on your photographic journey. We all know that to get really good at anything, we need to practice and practice a lot. After all, practice makes perfect. The more pictures you take, the better you will become.
Don’t get hung up on what you’re using to take the pictures, either. Many times I only have my iPhone with me and take a shot if it catches my eye. Be confident that if done correctly, you can make good pictures with any camera.
#3 Analyze other photographs
Seek inspiration in other photos. Look at pictures you like and ask yourself what you like about those pictures. What makes it interesting to you and why? Also question how you could make it better or do it differently.
Don’t be afraid to try something similar and put your own creative spin on it. Take an old idea and make it your own. That makes it different, new and in turn, you just might make it better than the original.
#4 Study your images
Become your own best critic. Question everything. Look at your pictures and ask yourself what you like and what you don’t like. Be completely honest with yourself as this will really help you improve your craft. Sometimes it is also beneficial to repeat the shot and change it up to make it better than your own original.
And when something works, celebrate your success. It is very important in your creative journey to celebrate your own milestones – it makes the journey that much more fun.
#5 Stop, look and then click
Most of today’s fancy cameras have a continuous shooting mode where you can fire away at six to eight frames per second. But I find that this tends to make us lazy as photographers. We take on the mentality of the “spray and pray” theory that if we take 20 shots of something, chances are at least a couple will be worthwhile.
Yes, taking loads of pictures is great. But if you pause and take a few seconds to really observe your surroundings, you will be able to visualize your shot. Think about how you want your picture to look and do what you need to do to achieve that look. It might mean moving position, waiting for the light to change or the crowds to dissipate, but it could be the difference between a good photo and a great one.
I hope these simple yet powerful tips help you take better photos and improve at your skill and craft. Remember it is not the camera that takes a great picture but the skill of the person behind the camera that gets the money shot.