8 Tips to Become a Good Photographer
When one picks up the camera with the ambition to become a photographer, their first question is: “How do I take better pictures?”
With the digital age and the birth of digital photography and camera phones, anybody can be a photographer. So how does one stand out? Here we are sharing with you some tips and advice that can help kickstart your photographic journey and make you stand apart from the crowd.
1. Light, Light, Light!
When one breaks down the word photography, it can be loosely understood as “writing the light” or “writing with light”. Photography is the practice of capturing light with the help of a camera. What this essentially means is that the understanding of light is the most important factor when you begin your journey in photography.
It is crucial for a good photographer to understand light instinctively. How one uses light can dictate what the viewer of your photograph feels when they look at your photograph. Use of light and shadows and flash can drastically change a flat photograph.
A trick often used by photographers is to photograph during the Golden Hour, which is the time just after sunrise or sunset when the light is soft and very flattering. A good practice is to also make use of beams of light or reflections to add layers to your photograph.
2. Composition, Form and Framing
Apart from how you use light, one thing that can make or break your photograph is how you are composing your photograph. Imagine that you are a painter and what you see through your viewfinder is your canvas. Each element that you include or avoid contributes to the end result. Always spend time in your chosen setting to compose your frame. This is what will make the difference between a ‘snapshot’ and a ‘photograph’.
When you begin photography, a good practice is to use the Rule of Thirds. What this essentially means is that you break down your photograph by dividing it with horizontal and vertical lines into 9 boxes. Then you place the important elements of your photograph at the intersection of these lines.
Think about your foreground and background. Often a pleasing or an intriguing image is the one that has a foreground, a midground and a background. What this does is that it creates layers in your photograph, forcing your viewer to stay with the image for a longer time, trying to understand the various elements of the image and how you have placed each of them in your photograph. In this it is also important to ensure that your background is not too distracting or crowded, taking away the attention from your main element.
The main idea is to ensure that you bring attention to the focal element of your photograph and also create a photograph which leads your viewer in. Another rule that is often used is called Leading Lines. While photographing, try to look for lines that will lead the viewers eye into the photograph. Think – staircases, buildings, railway tracks, roads, facades or even a path in the jungle. Leading Lines are a great way to add depth to your photographs and make it look like you spent time and made a careful decision while choosing your frame.
It is also a good practice to look for different angles in which your photograph can be shot instead of settling for the most obvious and straight angle. A top angle or a low angle of the same setting can drastically change the image and the mood or feeling it evokes.
Another good tip to make pleasing photographs is to use symmetry. A well proportioned and balanced photograph will always attract the viewer and make your photograph look well composed.
Pro Tip: Always look at the edges of your photograph. As yourself: Do the edges have a distracting or disturbing element? Are you cutting off an arm or a leg/foot of your subject and making the whole photograph look rather awkward? Would it be better to take a step back or forward?
3. Go Closer!
The master photographer Robert Capa famously said, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Avoid using the zoom feature on your camera, instead take a step or two toward your subject. See how you are filling the frame and is any space being wasted? When photographing people, it is important to be mindful of their expressions and how you are including them in your photograph.
The mastery of light also means the mastery of your exposure settings. While it is okay to use the auto mode every now and then, a good photographer not only understands the exposure settings but is also able to optimize them and use them to enhance their photograph.
Your exposure settings completely dictate how much light will fall on your sensor and what kind of effects it will have in the photograph. Overexposing or underexposing your photograph is also a choice that will change the look and feel of the photograph. You can make choices such as including bokeh, low-key or high-key lighting and more! Your exposure settings can help you achieve your desired effect.
5. Get the right ‘Exposure’
A good practice when learning and mastering any form of art is to learn from those who came before you and exposing yourself to all forms of art.
Study the works of other photographers and learn from their practice. Creation of art requires inspiration and a good source of inspiration is consuming art. Photographers must not limit themselves to photography, but also look at painting and cinema, music, sculpture, architecture and more!
6. Shoot Everyday
The only way to truly become a great photographer is to practice, practice and practice! Shoot as much as you can and always carry your camera. Some of the greatest photographers in history were those who always had their camera with them, no matter where they went.
Your technical skills and instincts can only improve when you apply your knowledge to create photographs.
7. Live in the Moment
All great photographers and artists have one thing in common – they observe. Slow down and be present. Don’t be in a rush to make the photograph, observe your surroundings, make conscious choices about how you will expose and compose the photograph. Choose your elements carefully, ensure that each of your chosen element is contributing to your photograph.
Make eye-contact, interact with people, make them comfortable, be aware of their actions and expressions. Treat people like people, they are not objects.
8. Consider Getting Photography Education
Professional photography is a highly competitive field and requires one to be technically sound but also have an instinct. A good idea would be to work with photographers and mentors to improve your skills.
A structured training can be a key factor in setting you apart and value to your skills, career and experience. A formal photography course will also help you develop an eye for good photographs, read photographs, bring out your creativity and kickstart your career!
A quick and easy Google search can lead one to a world of information, tips and tricks on how to become a great photographer. But a good photographer is not just a set of skills. A good photographer is someone who holds the camera like it is an extension of their arm. Someone who not just looks, but actually sees. Someone who has intuition and comes with a vision. Someone who is open to learning and experiences. Someone who appreciates light and colour. Someone who approaches the art with passion, skill and rigor. Photographers are born, but they can also be made. Like one of our faculty when addressing a batch of new photography students said, “there is a lot of difference in becoming a photographer and being a photographer.”