I’m far from an expert photographer, I’ve only really been taking photographs in a purposeful manner for about a year and a half, however I seem to be doing OK. I have been complimented on my images and even received two acceptances into the Bristol Salon this year and one into the Welsh International Salon. So even though I am not an expert I thought I would share what I’ve discovered so far about photography and maybe it will help you with your own photography. A few people have asked me to share some knowledge as well so here is it!
(Please remember these tips are based on my own (untrained/ non-professional) opinions and experiences!)
Of course you will need something to actually take pictures with, but It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have the latest DSLR with all the lenses and lighting setups or if you only have a phone with a camera attached, if you learn a little bit about photography you can still achieve some good or even great results. One of my favourite shots of my daughter was taken on an iPhone and will be printed eventually to put on my wall, and I’m happy with that. Equally spending thousands on the top cameras and lenses won’t make you an amazing photographer either. Whatever you have though get to know it, read the manual (yes I know, boring!) and understand how it works.
Ansell Adams once said the most important thing about a camera is the 12″ behind it and he’s right. Just think how much more advanced cameras are than years ago, and people still captured some great images then! I’ve just bought a Lubitel film camera to play with to see what they worked with in the ‘olden days’ and I’m impressed, it takes a lot of patience.
Basically photography is the art of capturing light, the light that bounces off everything, and the first thing I always consider is whether or not my subject/s are well lit or not. Things I consider are- Where are the shadows? Do they need filling somehow? How will the camera catch the light?
Sometimes it can be as simple as turning the person or object slightly, just to get the right light, sometimes it can be moving out of the sun into the shade as the light can be too harsh, so light is the main thing to consider in my opinion, giving it a little more thought will always be worth it.
Nearly as important, as light, is composition. This basically means that you have the point of interest in the frame. But also is it in an appealing area of the photo? Are there any distractions that can be removed or a nicer background to be had? It might seem like a lot to think about but it becomes habit eventually, start with asking yourself if you’ve got everything ‘in’ and build from there. For example if you’re taking a picture of a tree have you cut the top off? When photographing a flower did you get all of the petals in?
There are many ‘rules’ to composition such as the rule of thirds, leading lines etc but try not to confuse yourself with them all straight away, the likelihood is that you’ll miss the shot if you think too much. If you do want to read more about the ‘rules’ here is a great list that might help- http://www.digitalcameraworld.
This is something I can sometimes get wrong and something I am working on, but it is quite important as well, I have waited too long for the ‘right’ moment and missed the shot a few times, and fast moving objects throw me off completely. But this is something that takes practice. Luckily with digital cameras it’s fine to make a mistake since it hasn’t cost you anything, but imagine learning on a film camera! Try and take your time and keep practising, eventually it will come to you, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Find inspiration and like minded people. I’ve been looking around online for a while now at what other people are doing and how things are done, I’ve taught myself most of the technical stuff (after Alex kindly got me started on the basic camera settings), but I’ve also joined a camera club, which has many different levels of photographers who have different skill sets and experiences, and from that I have learnt a lot! We have meetings once a week with competitions, workshops and talks from various different photographers all with a different way of doing things, plus a few of these experienced photographers are willing to help others and have talked me through some of the finer points of photography, and given their opinions and their time to help me out, and I will be forever grateful for that.
Finally shoot shoot shoot! Henri Cartier-Bresson said “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” so you just have to keep practising.
That’s it really, the main point I would to make that if you don’t try you will never know, so keep trying different things and see what you like and what you are good at.