Do These 5 Things and You’ll be A Better Photographer :
A Guest Post By Audrey Ann of Live Snap Love
Do you ever feel like you’re spinning in circles when it comes to learning photography?
That when you learn one thing, it leads onto something ELSE you don’t know, and you feel overwhelmed with everything there is to learn?
Or you’re getting lost in a sea of online tutorials, and you don’t know what you should focus on first, or next?
If that’s you, I totally get where you’re coming from, because I definitely felt the same way!
When I first started learning photography, I remember spending hours upon hours reading photography tips and tutorials online, devouring everything I could get my hands on when it came to how to take better photos – but in most cases, I just felt overwhelmed rather than informed!
The truth is, we’re living in an age with more information available to us than at any other time in human history, yet all that is doing is leaving us overwhelmed and confused, as we get pulled in ten directions at the same time – and it’s no different when it comes to learning photography.
But there is some good news! Because if you can focus on just FIVE key areas in photography, you’ll get better photos. Doesn’t sound so overwhelming when you put it like that does it?!
So that’s what this guest post for the wonderful Cozy Clicks is all about – the five areas you need to focus on if you want to get better photos….
Area #1 : Learn About Light
Light seriously is EVERYTHING in photography. Now, that’s true in an entirely physical sense, in that if there is no light you simply can’t take an image (the word photography literally means painting with light) but also because how well you use light can actually make or break your photos.
If you feel like your images are a bit “blah”, a bit middle of the road, or even a bit “snapshotty” (totally a word. That I just made up) then the chances are you’re simply using boring light.
I have a little mantra in my head at all times when taking pictures:
“light first, location second”
What this means is that although a location can be gorgeous, don’t think first about what the background is like behind your subject – think about where the light is coming from, then decide where to place your subject.
Now, you can light your subject in many different ways (from the front, from the side, from behind, in open shade etc) and you’ll decide which one to use based on the type of light you have to work with, and your goal for the photo.
If you’re just starting out and you’re not sure, take a minute to walk around in a circle, having your subject face you at all times. You want to look at your subject and see where the shadows fall, and what areas are being lit.
Here’s the important bit – you want the areas you want to be highlighted (like eyes) to have light, and don’t want these areas to be in shadow.
Basically, if the subject doesn’t look good to the naked eye and lit in all the right places, you won’t get a great photo. Period.
Area #2 – Switch to Manual Mode
Shooting in manual mode was the turning point for me in photography (4 years in I may add!).
I wasted soooooo much time thinking I could just shoot in Aperture Priority mode, because I really couldn’t see the point in making that final switch to manual mode.
But when I did, and I truly learnt it (and not just as a way of balancing exposure as my camera would) then I honestly felt like I had unlocked the key to photography. Because that was when I could get all the shots I could see in my head, and most importantly – I could get them on demand.
And you know what? It’s not just me! I’ve had the honor of teaching thousands of students, and they all say the same – learning manual mode was when they truly “got it” and could start getting the images they wanted.
This is also when you can start to use more dramatic light, which as you learned above, is essential for better photos. So, don’t waste another moment – if you are on AUTO right now, take your first steps away from that mode by moving onto something like Aperture Priority Mode.
If you want to take this further, you can also download my free 90 Day Learning Photography Blueprint, which gives you some totally actionable steps toward learning photography, and moving onto manual mode!
Area #3 : Learn Your Camera
I know! Mystifying how this one ended up on here.
But seriously, SO many people would rather spend hours researching which lens they are going to buy next, rather than on the settings on their camera, which does somewhat boggle the mind a bit.
Now, I love nothing more than some nice camera gear and a bit of lens researching, but know this – the best L lens in the world will do absolutely nothing for your photographs if you don’t know how to use what it’s attached to.
Learn your camera. Inside out. Learn all the functions and settings, and when you need to change them depending on what you’re photographing.
The two you want to learn first after manual mode? The FOCUS settings and WHITE BALANCE settings. Those two areas will have a big impact on your photos, so after you’ve learnt manual mode, get those under your belt!
Area #4 Make composition your lifelong friend
Composition is simply how we arrange (or compose, if you will) the various elements within the scene to direct the viewer’s eye where you want it, hide things you don’t want them to see, or just to make a photo a darn sight more interesting.
This is an area of photography that you’ll find yourself turning to more and more once you have done numbers 1 – 4 on this list.
The reason we’re not diving into this first is because photography is a mix of both creative and technical elements. When our brain is so tied up thinking about what settings to use and the whole technical side of photography, it’s hard to be creative. It’s like asking you to pick out a dress whilst your house is burning down.
But once you have knowledge and experience of the technical side, it gets a little bit like driving a car. You can get to the store on autopilot – not thinking that you need to put the car into gear or put your foot on the pedal or stop at the red light – it’s all done by your brain without you overthinking it.
When you get to that stage, your creativity becomes unleashed, because your brain doesn’t have to worry about all that pesky Aperture or Focus settings, so it becomes easier to try new things out.
This is when you can start to experiment more with your photos through composition! And there is lots to learn, and lots to try, which is when photography gets to be a lot of fun, and most importantly, when you start to get those WOW photos that your friends beg you to take for them.
Area #5 – Practice, Practice, Practice
There is nothing more important than practice in photography – without putting what you learn into action and having that become second nature, you’ll never be a good photographer!
But do know that it’s so important to be practicing the right things. I’ve heard so many people say to me that they don’t know what to do, but that if they just practice even more, they’ll get better. That doesn’t work – learn the right steps FIRST, then practice them!
And that’s it, your five areas to focus on to get better photos! Remember, you can also download that Photography Learning Blueprint that will walk you through what you need to learn in photography, and in what order!
Thanks so much to Audrey Ann for sharing her knowledge with us here! To learn more about Audrey and Live Snap Love check out any of the links below!