Pictures don’t change. They remain immortalizations of moments and feelings, frozen in time. This is why, as a photographer, you want to ensure you get the skill and knowledge to take memorable shots you can pride yourself with. For the vast majority of people, taking photos with our smartphones is more than enough. We don’t need specialized gadgets and tools, and we are more than happy we can take shots of funny, sad, happy, and emotional events, whenever we feel like.
But for aspiring professional photographers, this isn’t enough. Luckily for them, the tips and tricks below will help them acquire higher training and skill levels, to perfect their work and shots.
#1. Don’t stress about purchasing expensive gear
Before jumping on the boat of professional photographers with expensive and varied gear, you should study and experiment with different techniques and strategies used by professional photographers.
Putting a primary focus on your gear, and thinking that better one than you have currently, will help you become a professional photographer will deter you from learning and becoming skillful and knowledgeable. Experiment with your smartphone camera and first, try to acquire some basic skills and techniques.
#2. Find the best time to shoot
According to professional photographers, some of their most successful shots are taken right after dawn or just before sunset – during the golden hour. The natural lighting during those intervals will beat even the most advanced and expensive pieces of great. Finding the right lighting is the key technique in taking perfect shots of different contexts: mountains, water, rural landscapes or urban landscapes.
Try to catch those beams of light with portions of the sky and ground for impressive, yet simple compositions.
#3. Experiment with ugliness
Ugliness can be beautiful, too! While most professional photographers love to take pictures of visually-pleasing elements and subjects, others, like Diane Arbus, have a different approach to their photography.
To become a better photographer, try to learn how to shoot visually unappealing subjects, sceneries, and landscapes. Litter, disorganization and objectively ugly people will teach you beauty and emotion hide in different things, for different people. Plus, shooting the aesthetically unappealing will teach you how to make them look pretty and attractive!
#4. Limit your compositions
Limited tools and gear force you to restrict and limit your compositions as well. When professional photographers take shots with their smartphones, they try to be careful of both angles and compositions. Think of how would this force you to change your technique. To practice more this strategy, try to take for a week pictures of the same composition: children on the playground, woods, or city lines. See how you can change and adapt your techniques, in this case.
#5. Take a specialized course
Not all good photographers are natural-born photographers. In fact, photography takes a lot of time and training. If you want to specialize in various techniques and methods, you can enroll in an art or photography class. Fortunately, you can access such classes even if you can’t physically attend them. Online classes and courses have become good didactical methods for people who want to specialize in their interest areas.
Enrolling in an art class will teach you more about perspective, shading, contrasts, and will make you realize how important compositions are.
#6. Experiment with traditional film cameras
In the era of digital cameras, memory cards, and external memory, being selective about the shots you take is more difficult.
To learn how to become more selective with your shots, try to experiment with traditional film cameras. With a single roll of film and a limited number of shots, you will notice that you analyze your subjects more carefully and only take those pictures that make the most sense to you. You will also notice you become more aware of the angles and distances you shoot from.
#7. Study and try to replicate the work of other photographers
Spend time studying different types of artists and photographers. Focusing on a single type of photography and shooting style will limit you tremendously as an artist. Start by studying the work of several photographers you admire and have a completely different style than you. You can learn from every artist out there and you can expand your knowledge base.
#8. Shot from different angles
Most beginner photographers tend to shoot all their pictures from the same level, the eye level. To experiment and decide which is the best angle in different compositions, switch the level where you take your shots from. This will help you capture people and other subjects from various angles and offer your pictures different meanings.
Try to lay on the ground or use a chair when you take your pictures. This will help you play and experiment with angles and distances.
#9. Keep the photos you don’t like immediately
Not all pictures you label as fails as soon as you take them are poor quality. Keep them for longer than you might want. Once you get to master certain techniques and methods, you are more likely to rethink your perspective and images. You might decide that you only like certain parts of a composition. Alter the rest, to make it fit your vision.
#10. Vary your techniques
Sticking to the same technique over and over again will make your shots look almost the same, in spite of shooting different subjects. For instance, if you use bokeh for all photos you take, this can become boring after a while. Although this is a great effect and shooting technique to use in different circumstances, add variety to your portfolio. You can draw attention to your subjects or compositions using other effects and techniques!
Remember that being a good photographer is not all about having expensive gear. It is about being able to take stunning shots even with some of the basic pieces of gear and equipment you find. And exercising limiting your choices and compositions can be useful, too!