I'm sure you've seen a ton of these everywhere, but normally I see stuff like
"Don't forget to take your lens cap off"
"Don't forget about the exposure"
or my favorite
"Don't forget to bring your camera"
Yeah, totally helpful right? Well here's a couple tips and tricks to actually help you take better photos.
Also, this is going to be written like I'm talking to you, not some web article BS. Hope you're fine with that.
1) When You're Starting Out, Use A Prime Lens
Why? Why would you not want a camera that zooms to the heavens?
Because it makes you slow down and think. Cameras, Lenses, Strobes, these are all tools we use to improve upon our photography. However, having all this equipment doesn't mean you make great photos. The most important thing in a photo is how you compose the image. Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Symmetry, Viewpoints, Background, Midgrounds and Foregrounds, Balancing Elements, Left to Right, Golden Triangles, and the Golden Ratio. These are all composition rules on how to make your photos more interesting to the eye. However it helps to make elements of your photo pop.
This is where the Prime Lens comes in. Not being able to zoom in makes you move and find the right composition. It really makes you think about where all the elements are going to be.
2) Triangles, Triangles, Triangles!!!
I don't know why, the person that taught me this doesn't know why, and I haven't bothered looking into the psychoanalysis that explains why, but the more triangles you see in your photo, the more appealing it is. Now what does this mean? Do I have to wear shirts with triangles and super angular, asymmetrical jackets and dresses? Nope. You're overthinking this. Think of the simple things. Framing and posing. Try this on your next photo or find one online from a photographer you really like. Go on photoshop or print the image out and try to draw as many triangles as you can on that image. For some strange reason we are drawn to these triangle filled pictures, so use them in your photos!
3) Know How Light Works
Light is a fickle bitch. Just like every other part of nature, it has no mercy and effects everything with no prejudice. This basically means that no matter how good your camera it is, if the lighting is off, the picture is off.
There is absolutely no way that I can cover how light works in a small paragraph. So here's an online video that explains it pretty well.
Also, here's some studio lighting tips. If you want to learn more, just comment below and I'll make another article.
Studio Lighting Tips
(All else fails, just google some stuff, the internet is full of lighting tips and there is no possible way to cover them in a list)
Fun fact, photography has helped me lose weight. Strange I know, but that's because I move my ass during shoots. Ask any of my models, I look like a complete idiot getting some of my shots. I'll be lying down, on my toes, up a ladder, on the second floor of a building, in a tree (not suggested cause pain), edge of a cliff, etc. Why do I look like a crazy person on shoots? Because of the angles.
People see life at eye level. So if you take everything at eye level, you're just showing everyone what they're already seeing (unless you're at some crazy location). Get dirty, go down, find something new that no one has done. Get into that weird pose, who cares who laughs. You're the one getting the perfect shot. If you want the shot, find a way to get it. Go crazy, have fun, get your photos.
5) Actually Talk To Your Models
Photography is actually quite intimate. You're looking through a lens and capturing a moment of someone's life. That moment is unique and will never occur again. Sooo if you're going to capture a moment in someone's life and present it to them, I think it's a good idea to get to know them first. This does two things. One, it helps the model and you be more comfortable during the shoot. Stiff equates to bad shots. Comfort equates to natural, better looking shots. Two, it helps you know what kind of photos to take. At least in my line of lifestyle photography - and even other portraiture work, it will help you capture the best version of them.
Sincerity, comprehension, and interpersonal communication are skills that are commonly overlooked in the photography line of work. These are, in fact, some of the most important skills in a photographers entire repertoire. Hone them, use them, apply them.
Here's a cool chart summing a successful person's guide to meeting people and talking good.
Also the full book if you like to read.
Long Ass Book
6) Look At Cool Photos and Try To Figure Out How They Captured Them
Go on Instagram, Flickr, Google, I don't know, anywhere you find cool photos. Look at them. Analyze them. Figure out why you enjoy them. Do you know what EXIF data is? I'll tell you what EXIF data is. EXIF, or more correctly Exchangeable Image File, is basically all the information of the photograph. This includes, shutter speed, ISO, f stop, and exposure compensation. It will help you understand how these individuals elements work and how to capture a beautiful image like the one you chose.
BUT DANIEL, ISN'T THAT COPYING AND PLAGIARISM AND BAD STUFF?
Please, everyone in every profession starts out by copying others. Whether that be medicine, photography, music, or whatever. It helps you learn the basics. Once you got the basics down, you can develop your own unique style. Can't do it all at once, take it step by step.
7) Join A Photography Group or Go To A Photography Meet-up
You can only learn so much from the internet and damn, those photography seminars are expensive. What do you do? Find a group of people helping each other learn their trade maybe? Find a free event that brings photographers and models together so they can shoot and learn from each other? Huh, maybe that is a good option.
In this way, you can learn by doing, not by learning. Books will only teach you so much. If you never shoot, you'll never get better. So go out, find like minded people, and just shoot. Maybe you'll learn some stuff, apply your encyclopedic knowledge of photography, or just make some friends.
8) "True Photographers Don't Use Photoshop"
Capital "B" capital "S."
Anyone ever hear this? I heard it a lot when I was starting out.
"I don't use photoshop because I'm a master of my camera and everything comes out perfect"
Translation: *I don't know how to use it and I don't plan on learning it because it's a pain"
Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity, these programs exist for a reason. Most of what I do is sit on front of my computer trying to get the most out of the images I took. Why would I not do that? Also, photographers are artists. They are creatives. We are allowed to make art using programs and applications. Learn it, use it, don't ignore it. It is a very powerful tool with wonderful positive applications to your photography. It will only make it better.
9) Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Do you shoot portraits? Do some landscapes. You shoot birds? Try people. You shoot real estate? Try shooting cosplay. The gist of it is, get out of your element. If you're always shooting the same stuff, trust me, you'll get bored eventually or you'll just be in a creative rut. Go travel. You don't have to go far, just get in your car, drive somewhere cool (idk look it up on yelp or something) and just change your environment. Talk to new models, reach out on instagram, ask out that cute guy/girl in your class. Do anything. Just make sure to keep challenging yourself. The moment you feel comfortable is when you've stopped moving. Keep on hustling.
Here's Casey Neistat to help convey the message.
10) Screw The Rules
DAMMIT DANIEL YOU'RE CONTRADICTING YOURSELF! You JUST said to learn how to compositions and learn how to make a good photo.
Now hold on hold on. I did say to make your own style. Learning the basics are extremely helpful of course, but take it with a grain of salt. Each photo doesn't has to follow every single rule. Don't be constrained by what others say makes up a good photo. If you read these tips and said "wow, he has no idea what he's talking about," go do your own stuff and prove me wrong. Art is limitless and you should be too.
THANKS FOR READING THIS EVERYONE! If you found it useful just pass it along. Help those poor souls who don't know what they're doing.
P.S. Here's the biggest hidden shoot. Get off the internet and just go shoot. JUST DO IT. Trust fam.