If you’re training to become a professional photographer, one thing you will need that’s more important than your camera is a portfolio. Building out a portfolio is integral to any artist’s career. It shows all the best work you’ve done and managed to keep. But how can you make your work better? What are people looking for? Or if you’re only interested in photography as a hobby, how do you take perfect pictures that will satisfy you personally?
Here are some tips on how you can immediately see improvement in every picture you take.
Get to Know Your Camera
Every camera is different, although some features have become much more standard. Regardless, you will want to know the ins and outs of your camera and what all it can do. The easiest way to do that is consulting the manual it comes with and learning what every button does, what every setting changes, and what these will all do for your photos.
The best way to understand what all your setting can do is to test them out, one by one. Pick a subject, frame it, and start taking pictures with different adjustments. This is a fast step for people who learn by doing, and you’ll get some practice in your fundamentals of photography.
Understand the Basics
Just aiming and shooting with your phone camera does not lead to good photography. There are principles, time-tested factual practices that make photos stand out better and enhance their quality. The most basic device is framing, where the main subject of a photo is the borders of the picture. Cameras can only capture so much space, so you need to know how to use all that space wisely.
Many of the basics will come naturally as you continue to take pictures. Lighting, for example, is something you can influence or use naturally. Angle, perspective, and the rule of thirds all play a part in creating a successful and impactful photo. Even if it’s a photo of your lunch, you want that lunch to look better than it is.
If you want to take your photography up to another level, you should explore accessories designed to enhance your ability to manage and make use of different elements. These can be things like filters that are applied to the picture after it’s been taken, digital tools to do touch-ups, or physical gear that you bring with you.
Of course, packing up a whole photo studio and moving it around every time you want to take a picture is hard work, not to mention expensive and impractical. There are stripped-down and basic pieces of equipment available to anyone with an interest in photography. Things like adjustable tripods, which can even fit phone mounts, or selfie-ring clips so you can stay lit up while taking a handheld selfie. Figure out what you want to improve and find some tools that can help.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you want to get better at anything, you need to do it. This includes taking photos. You can take a hundred pictures of one plate of food and only get a few that are considered good. By practicing and learning what made those pictures good in the first place, you can reduce the total number of pictures taken to get one or two great ones. Ideally, you want every picture to be as good as it can be, for each shot to be perfect.
Explore outside of your environment and take pictures of things you otherwise wouldn’t. Wildlife pictures are especially challenging because you can’t exactly control an animal, so you need to take a picture of the right moment knowing they won’t follow exactly what you say. Nature functions similarly. A tree might wave in the wind and ruin, or perfect, a shot you had framed up.
Learn from the Best
Photography is a wide-open art form with many important practitioners. Photographers keep many industries rolling from high art and journalism over to influencers and promotional material. Look at what’s working and try to figure out what techniques are being used. The framing, perspective, light, and shadows – find what they’re doing right and copy it.
It makes sense to get better at something you like doing. Even just as a personal hobby you should want to do your best or look your best if you happen to be your favorite subject. Follow fashion blogs and even read up on how professional photographers take pictures of clients so you can use their skills on yourself.
Always Be Ready
The special thing about a photograph is that it captures a moment that will never come back. The stars in the sky might not change, but the placement of clouds or the surrounding lights will always be different. Never assume a good chance will come back. Be ready to take pictures of the things that interest you most whenever possible.
Obviously, you will almost always have your phone with you, and that has a camera in it already. If that’s your preferred medium, make sure you practice with it. You don’t want to take out your phone and accidentally throw it to the side as you raise it into view for a shot. Be mindful of your surroundings as well. You don’t want to get photobombed by someone who didn’t even know you were there.
Make Every Snap Count
The most important part of photography is, ultimately, to be happy that you’re doing it. There should be satisfaction taken in every photo, whether it’s good or bad. If it’s bad, then it means you know why and can improve for the next one. If it’s good, that means you’re improving and will one day reach the point where you can step back and be proud every time you take a new photo. Make your personal photos matter more than the moments they are made of.