Top 9 Tips To Improve Your Photography

Here’s the cruel truth about photography:

Having an expensive camera is NOT going to make you a good photographer.

BUT…

Understanding a few basic principles of taking that perfect shot puts you one step closer to making Pinterest-worth images.

So if you decided to improve your skills – congratulations!

If you don’t have a camera yet, a great way to start is getting one of the film cameras.

No matter what kind of photography you’re into, these main photography tips will help you to get more proffesional.

1. Learn The Rule of Thirds For a Better Composition

This is a photography composition technique that helps to balance our images and build a better composition. This rule will also help to create more interesting shots.

The rule of thirds is simply trying to break your image into 3 horizontal and 3 vertical parts as shown in the image below.

rule of thirds

Notice how the swing is perfectly positioned on the intersection of the lines?

It helps to position your subject leaving some extra space empty.

This effect makes the view more pleasant to a viewer’s eye.

Want to hear the best part?

You can use this technique in almost every situation possible!

You can also apply this rule when processing your image.

Photo editing programs usually have the cropping tool which adds the additional lines to help you make a better-cropped image. You can also check these tutorials for additional photo editing tricks.

Bonus tip: apply imaginary grid or use it in your editing program to straighten the horizon. Straight horizon should also be your aim for every photo.

2. Shoot RAW For More Professional Images

RAW images consist higher colour quality, wider dynamic range and greater levels of brightness.

If you can’t see some of the detail in the original picture file, you can recover all that later using editing software.

Let’s translate that in human language:

RAW files provide much better results after manual editing because they have more data.

These results consist of better sharpening, highlights and shadows, saturation, contrast and much more.

However, shooting RAW means that your images need to be processed.

So if you are going just for a quick snap of your friends, you can always switch to JPEG!

3. Experience Shooting in Manual Mode

It’s okay to shoot in auto mode.

But if you want your images to look more professional, MANUAL mode is a must to use. 

At first manual mode may seem scary, but believe me, after some practice it will become as easy as ABC. 

Why? 

There are 3 main settings that you need to exploit. Here are some quick tips on how to use each of them.

1. Keep ISO as low as possible, so your images have less noise and more detail.

2. Higher shutter speed helps you to capture moving objects and avoid camera shaking. But it also means that less light enters your lenses, so images will be darker.

3. Wide aperture makes your images brighter and helps to separate your object from the background, making it more soft and blurry.

4. Avoid Overloaded Background

You’ve probably seen a lot of photos with too much information and tons of items that shouldn’t be there, right? Less detail in the background will help to focus viewers’ attention to the main subject, especially in jewelry photography or similar.

So remember to:

1. Focus on your subject (focus on the eyes if it’s a portrait), so the background is blurred nicely

2. Move unecessary stuff away from the background

If you can’t move those objects away from your background (for example trees, bushes, houses or people), having wide aperture or long-focus lens is a perfect way to make background blurry.

5. Use Filters For More Unique Results and Safety

If you are planning to dive deep into photography, then you should start using lens filters as soon as possible.

These are some filters you could use:

Polarizing filter – helps to boost colours, reduces reflections from glass or water and pumps up the contrast.

Neutral Density (ND) filter – helps to control your exposure. Using those you can take soft long-exposure photos of landscape, sky, water or moving objects (for example, cars), which look just incredible!

Ultraviolet (UV) filter – neutralizes colours and keeps your lens protected.

Colour filter – also boosts your colours and helps to achieve creative results in your pictures. You can use these free Lightroom filters for more creative colour results as well. 

Protective filter – protects your lens. Using filters can be a perfect way to protect your lens. Imagine dropping your camera lens on a hard concrete – it would be less heart-breaking to have broken filter than a broken lens.

6. Exhale Before Pressing the Shutter Button

You are probably thinking:

This tip is from the American Sniper movie.

The thing is…

…the same rule can be applied when taking shots with our camera.

When we breathe out or hold our breath we simply stop moving. In this case, it’s easier to get sharper images. Especially it applies when using long focal length lenses. With these lenses even a minimal movement can result in a blurred out image.

So the next time you are taking a long-distance photo, don’t forget to breathe out before the shot. 

7. Take Tons of Shots

We live in a digital world where we can easily take tons of pictures.

If you don’t like them – delete all that later.

You can really trust this thing:

We all sometimes get those terribly blurry shots. Or capture a funny mimicry of a person.

It’s ok. Because you are in control who sees it.

If you are shooting important events, for example, weddings, you don’t want to miss all the important moments.

As for my experience, I noticed that when I take photos of people, usually in 1 out of 4 photos I capture a person with their eyes closed. And that’s totally natural – people blink.

It’s impossible to notice when people blink the moment we are pressing the shutter button. Since we don’t want to make people look like they are sleeping, we can take at least 2-4 pictures.

This is also useful when taking pictures of moving people or objects.

Sometimes you will delete 9 out of 10 pictures.

BUT the one that’s left may be the shot that you are going to be proud of. And for which your clients will hire you again.

8. Better Darker Than Too Highlighted

If you successfully follow rules #1 and #2, then you are ready for this one. 

It’s better to capture darker shots. 

With Lightroom and Photoshop, it’s super-easy to restore information in these dark areas and make your photo look perfectly exposured.

Here’s an example of a picture before and after recovering all the dark areas.

recover dark photo

Unlike dark spots, areas with too many highlights have no information, so it’s impossible to restore them. These are called burned-out areas.

Imagine if you are shooting in front of a window where a lot of natural light comes into your sensor. In this situation, you should make your settings where you can see all the detail outside the window, no matter that objects you are trying to capture inside may seem too dark or even black. Later you can restore these dark areas.

9. Remember: Light Is Everything 

The last and most important thing to keep in mind: 

Photography is all about lighting. 

With no light reaching our sensor all we would see on the screen would be total darkness. 

What is more, with different types of light, you can make your picture more dramatic, moody, positive, negative etc.

It’s important to always find the “perfect” light for the shot. 

If you are indoors, move your subject in front of a window or use some kind of additional light. Using lightbox for photography is a cheap solution resulting in higher quality images.

When you are outside, try shooting in the morning when the sun is rising or in the evening when it’s sunset. You won’t regret!

I hope you will find these photography tips useful.

Now you can grab your camera and turn this theory into practice. 

Good luck.

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