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The following is the fourth and final part in my series of questions with a Pro Photographer.
What basic advice would you give beginner digital photographers to help them improve their shots?
I get a lot of friends asking for advice from me and showing me their shots. There are a few main things that I’d suggest based on the mistakes I see them making:
1. Move Your Feet – sometimes I think my friends miss great opportunities by being lazy and just relying upon their camera’s zoom feature to frame shots. If they just realized that they could significantly improve their photos by changing the position that they shoot from they’d get some great shots. Simple actions can make a big difference like:
• crouching or lying down
• climbing on a chair to look down on a subject
• getting in nice and close to a subject
• taking a few steps sideways to avoid a distracting foreground element
2. Look for the Details – when I’m photographing weddings the standard shots that I take are of people – however the shots that really make a wedding album special are the ‘detail shots’. The buttons on the back of the bride’s dress, the name place settings on the bridal table, shots of the mean (before it’s been eaten) etc. Most wedding photographers include these elements in their day’s shooting but average photographers can take the same principle into their everyday photography of life’s events (holidays, parties, family get together and even landscape shots). Mix shots up and look for the insignificant things that everyone else misses.
3. Learn to use Depth of Field – most of my friends shoot in their camera’s automatic modes and end up with reasonably well focused shots that are very ‘safe’. By that I mean that in auto mode a camera generally chooses settings that are fairly middle of the road in terms of aperture and shutter speed. As a result many shots are rather flat or one dimensional and don’t have much atmosphere or emotion to them in terms of ‘feel’. I shoot a lot in Aperture Priority mode and tend to choose fairly large apertures which creates a small depth of field which throws everything but the subject out of focus. This lifts a photo to a new level and adds a 3 dimensional feel to your shots.