If you want to take better photos (who doesn’t?), this article is for you…
Becoming a better photographer doesn’t have to be difficult, confusing, or time-consuming. You just need to know where to focus your attention to get better.
And get better you will if you follow these easy steps!
Learn to Use Your Camera
Today’s cameras are more advanced than ever, which means you need to be more diligent than ever in learning how to actually use yours.
It’s easy to sit back and let full auto mode do all the work for you, but that won’t make you a better photographer.
Take control over how your images look by learning to shoot in manual mode.
Being responsible for the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO is a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never go back. Get a quick how-to on using manual mode in the video below by Moose Winans:
If you’re not ready to make the leap into shooting in manual mode, take baby steps by advancing from full auto to something like aperture priority or shutter priority modes.
In aperture priority mode, you get to decide the aperture and the camera decides a corresponding shutter speed. It’s ideal for taking portraits and landscapes.
In shutter priority mode, you choose the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture. This is ideal for action shots of the kids, the dog, wildlife, and so forth.
You can also shoot in program mode, which allows you to set the ISO, and the camera will adjust the aperture and shutter speed accordingly.
However, program mode gives you veto power, so you can actually change the aperture and shutter speed if so desired.
The point is that even though our cameras are highly advanced, they still can’t match your ability to see the scene with your own eyes and fine-tune the camera settings as you see fit.
If better photos is what you want, get out of full auto today!
Focus on Telling a Story With Your Images
Here’s the complicated thing about photography…
On the one hand, it requires technical expertise (see the previous section). On the other, it requires artistic ability as well.
What you need to do to take better photos is to learn how to balance the technicalities of photography with the artistic elements.
In other words, it’s important to learn how to control your camera, but if you get bogged down in the technical details, you might end up ignoring the artistic elements of the shot.
Really make your photos stand out and tell a beautiful story by turning them into fine art.
And believe me, if you ignore things like composition and framing, if you don’t have a strong subject, if your image doesn’t tell a story, it’s going to fall flat just as badly as if it’s not exposed properly.
That’s why shooting in aperture priority, shutter priority or program mode can be so beneficial.
On the one hand, you can begin to master those technical elements of exposure, but at the same time, you aren’t overwhelmed with having to control everything, that way you still have the ability to work on the artistic elements of your photos that draw people in and tell them a story about the scene.
At the end of the day, a photo that’s not technically perfect but that tells a compelling story is preferable to a technically perfect shot that has no emotion, feeling or interest.
It’s You, Not the Gear
I’ve seen a lot of photographers over the years dump thousands and thousands of dollars into new cameras, lenses, and other gear, mistakenly doing so because they thought that new, fancy gear would make them a better photographer.
New gear is nice to have, but the real difference maker in the quality of your photos is you, your knowledge about photography, and your skills in using the gear that you have to take high-quality photos.
Think of it like this – a skilled photographer can take incredible photos with nothing more than a smartphone. By the same token, an unskilled photographer can have a Nikon D850 and take really terrible photos. See how a skilled photographers can use inexpensive gear to create awesome photos in the video below by Mango Street:
So, before you go out and buy the most expensive camera you can find, work to understand how to compose a photo, how to draw people’s attention to your work, and how to lead their eye from one point in the photo to the next.
Learn how to work with different types of light – and even more importantly, what you can do to work around poor lighting conditions like harsh, midday sun or what to do in dim lighting situations.
Combined with learning how to use the gear you have and focusing on telling stories with your photos, this is a recipe for becoming a much-improved photographer in the weeks and months to come.