Practical tips and thoughts on making better pictures:
“Taking” a photo means “shooting” a picture
Photography is interesting as an art form, because there are many layers to it.
- You shoot (take) photos
- You edit (select the photos you like) the photos
- You process the photos (apply filters, presets, and change contrast and other settings)
- You publish and share the photos (either in a project or series, or stand alone pictures)
Photography is a full-stack process.
How to shoot better photos
Post processing and editing is important in photography, but I think SHOOTING the photo is more important and difficult.
To shoot a better photo means to capture a scene or a moment you find interesting. And generally speaking, this is how I shoot better photos:
- Get closer to my subjects to fill the frame
- Use a flash to illuminate the scene, adding more contrast and “figure to ground”
- Having the courage to shoot the photograph in the first place. Having the courage to shoot (with or without permission). Courage to interact with a stranger or the subject of your photo.
- More unique and unusual perspectives: Crouching down low for a lower angle perspective, or shooting from a high angle looking downwards.
- Exposing yourself to more interesting scenarios: Leaving the house more often, camera in hand, and walking around more to SEE and witness more photo opportunities, that you will want to shoot.
- To work the scene more: Shoot more photos of interesting scenes, to “milk” the situation to the maximum.
- Simplify your compositions of the scene by changing the position of your camera to remove distractions in the background. Or changing your position to include certain people or elements you find interesting.
Shooting photos is like shooting basketballs; you need to keep practicing to keep your form on-point!
I know with myself, if I don’t practice shooting everyday, I get rusty. I lose my confidence, and I hesitate more.
With practicing shooting photos, it is best to use an everyday camera, like a RICOH GR II, FUJIFILM XF10, or just shoot with your phone.
When you’re practicing making photos, don’t strive to make “good” photos. Just shoot a lot, don’t think so much, and recognize that the more you shoot, the more likely you are to make a photo you like!
When it comes to shooting better photos, we must analyze our older photos and figure out:
Next time, when I see a similar situation, how can I shoot the scenario better?
For example, this is why I praise studying contact sheets, so I can analyze my successful photos — in order to learn from my successful photos.
For example when I study the above photo, It is a reminder:
Tilt my camera, to get the ‘dutch angle’ composition, and make my subject really small, in order to make a more dynamic image.
Stick with the same focal length (lens)
By getting very familiar with one focal length, you will know how close you need to stand to your subject (or far away) in order to make an effective picture.
Interact with your subjects
If you are into street photography, generally speaking if you want to make better photos of people, best to interact with them, direct them, chat with them, and to photograph multiple photos of them. The more you interact with your subjects, you will learn how to ‘work the scene‘ with your subject in different ways.
Thus if you want to make better street photographs, improve your social skills.
Conclusion: Make photos that will last
My only definition of a good photo is:
Will this photograph last?
I like this photograph right now, but will I still like the photo next year? In 5 years, in 10 years?
Ideally the longer your photos last, the better.
I think the best way shoot photos that will last is this:
Only photograph what is personally meaningful to you.
For example, I think my #cindyproject photos will last forever because the photos are meaningful to me, because they show my soul through my love of Cindy. Furthermore, I think others can relate with the photos, because it will inspire others to also photograph their loved ones.