10 Tips to Improve Your Photography

Over the years I've gotten a few comments about how great my camera must be.  Well I'm here to tell you that you could have the best camera ever, but it doesn't mean your photographs are going to improve overnight.  Photography is more than just a camera, it's you, your unique vision and skill as well as your camera and lens.  I think that any camera can take great photographs, if you learn a few things, mostly about composition.  But before we delve into the wide world of composition here are a few key tips I've learned overtime..

1. Get closer-If you are photographing people, you are probably too far away.  Getting closer makes the person more important and simplifies the background.



2.Look at the background-Is there anything distracting?  Maybe a pole or an arm coming out of someones head? ahem…


3. Light! Photography is the process of recording light.  It’s all about timing.  Different lights create different moods, different color casts.  It’s all about the light.    Are there harsh shadows on your subject?  Do they add or detract from the mood of the photo?


4. Don’t be afraid to get dirty.  If you want to capture a babies expression, you’ve got to be on their level, eye level.   If you want to get a great photo of a flower or other natural element, pretend it has an eye and lay down.  


5. Move around-This is probably the biggest thing, all of these tips more or less require you to move.   Move closer, change angles, move locations for better lighting.  Don’t sit still.  Photography is active.


6. Look at good photos.  I studied photography in college and in high school.  A number of classes focused on composition.  You have to practice composing your photographs and you have to look at well composed photographs.  Find photographers you like and find out how they do what they do.  Your own style will emerge.

7. Learn how to use your camera-you’ve no doubt heard this a lot.  Depending on the look you like, you don’t always need a slr (single lens reflex (think, interchangeable lens)). I took a number of photos I really liked while on a study abroad, with a Sony_______.  Photography is a team effort between you and your camera.  

8. Practice-plan your practice. Have an idea of how you want your images to come out and do your best.  Photography is an art, and just like any other art it takes patience and practice.

9. Post-production-This is what happens after you take the photo.  Always shoot to do the least you can in post-production. (If you can fix it before you photograph it, don’t wait to fix it in photoshop.)  Find your editing style and create a mood through the colors or in any manner that feels right to you.

10. Focus-I know I already said learn how to use camera, but I wanted to emphasize, learn to focus.  Every camera is different and so are different lenses.  You can generally communicate with your camera to tell it where you want to focus, but the communication varies on your camera and the lens you are using.  I bet you didn't know that photography is a team sport.

I know some of these seem repetitive, that's just how important they are.   What kind of things would you like to know to improve your photography? Do you have any specific questions?