Top 10 favorite photography tips
Whether you are a veteran photographer, someone who is fairly new, or even someone who is not a photographer at all and just wants to improve their photos, it's great to have some basic tips to keep in the back of your mind, so I've come up with a list of my favorite photography tips that can help anyone looking to make their photos pop!
Even if you are seasoned, going back to basics may be able to help you find new inspiration!
1. Choose a location with depth
Depth is the space allowed between the subject and the background. When you are using lenses with a low f-stop, depth creates that look we all love, the coveted background blur. Even creating depth in your foreground can make for some really cool effects with your photos!
Focusing on an object with plenty of depth enhances the look of the subject in the photo.
Even if you are using your phone, taking advantage of portrait mode can completely change the look of your photos! If you manually change your f-stop in settings to 1.4, you will notice the quality of your photos goes from meh 😑 to wow 🤩 in a matter of seconds!
2. Focus on the eyes
In photos, the eyes are a natural focal point we connect with. When selecting your focus, choosing to select the eyes will draw your focus to the facial features and emotion of the subject.
Focusing on the eyes draws your attention exactly where you want it to be in your photos.
As a photographer, theres nothing like feeling you captured that perfect moment, only to later discover when you are pulling up your file on your computer that the eyes or face are not in focus! Taking this small step to make sure your focus is locked in on the subject's eyes ahead of time gives the peace of mind that every photo will look exactly as you felt it did in that moment when it was originally shot!
3. Frame your subject
No I don't mean a literal picture frame, though if you love your images, you should definitely consider framing them for your wall! What I'm referring to is paying attention to your background and using objects to create a frame for your subject, further emphasizing that your subject is indeed the focal point of the image.
Utilize objects in your photo to create a natural frame around the subject.
Whether the elements are behind, level with, or even in front of the subject, framing further shows the subject as the focal point on the image, and failure to line the subject in a good spot can create a distraction. For example, instead of shooting your subject in front of a tree, try positioning them between two trees!
4. Be selective
It is important to know that every photographer takes mediocre or even low quality shots. The reason their portfolios are so impressive is because they only display their best work from each session. They know not to bore you with nearly 10 photos of an identical scene.
Try to use different locations during your shoot so not all photos look and feel the same.
When I took these photos above I probably had at least 50 more photos in each spot that looked almost the exact same or similar. Some spots I didn't even publish because I felt the photos were just "ok"or didn't give the wow factor like the ones I selected. So don't be scared to overshoot in the beginning, or really ever. It's better to overshoot and have plenty to pick from, than undershoot and feel you aren't happy with your results. In the end be selective and choose photos that look different and each have their own feeling.
5. Early morning and evening photos give the best results
You may have heard a photographer say "lighting is everything". And a photographers nightmare could be scheduling a high noon shoot with absolutely no shade. This is because sunlight can cast some unwanted shadows and create a harsh light that can feel nearly impossible to fix when you are editing your photos.
Shooting in direct sunlight can create unwanted shadows that conceal features we may want visible.
To avoid this, scheduling your session in the early morning or early evening right before sunset, can give you the most desired results. The shadows at these hours are more subtle, creating depth, without the harshness.
6. Straighten all of your photos
This is such a small detail that can be easy to overlook. But unless you are using a tripod or placing you camera on something level and sturdy, there is a high chance that your images will not be perfectly straight. And that's fine! But I like to make sure when I'm editing, my very first step is cropping and straightening my image. Pretty much all editing software now-a-days have grid lines so you can tell what the best angle to mildly rotate the photo to.
Use things like lines within the photo, surfaces, or the subject itself to be your guide.
Different lines within the photo can give you different perspectives when aligning so keep that in mind, don't be scared to play around with perspective until you get what suites what you are aiming for best.
7. Make mistakes
"We learn from failure, not from success" -Bram Stoker
Just like many things in life, photography is a career where you learn the most from it with your mistakes. Very hands on, you will never meet a photographer (no matter how great their work may be) that can say they never made a mistake with their photos. The more you shoot the better you get. And sometimes, mistakes can offer you an artistic perspective, or give you inspiration to try something new!
The more mistakes, the faster you improve, and the more you learn.
Don't be scared to step out of your comfort zone. Try a new style, or a new skill. Failing will teach you how to do it correctly. The real value is the ability to turn your mistakes into lessons and from there build your skills. Imagine what you would do if you knew you could not fail; now do that!
8. Always be ready
Cameras can be ready to start shooting in a matter of a couple seconds. And can shoot hundreds of photos in a matter of seconds. Also it uses hardly no battery power to keep your camera on. One idea is to keep your camera on auto and shoot away during unplanned moments such as when your subject is getting ready or walking to/away the scene. You can always switch back to your preferred mode when you have time to adjust for a stationary subject. Sometimes you only have a split second to capture a great shot.
The best photos are often the ones that are candid and unplanned.
Being open minded is key. It's easy to stick to a list of desired poses and photos; however photography is an art, and if you are willing to stay open minded, you may find that some of your best photos happened in between your planned photos.
9. Adjust aperture for sharpness
Now Aperture deals with your depth of field (how much an image is in focus), and though it does not technically stand for the sharpness of the images, there are small adjustments you can make to ensure your focal points look tac-sharp. In short, the higher the aperture, the more your photo will be in focus, the lower, the less in-focus the photo will be.
Keep in mind this also affects your lighting so there is a little bit of back and forth with your shutter speed and maybe even your ISO. It's best to play with these settings before hand to find that sweet spot. The higher the aperture, the darker the image will appear, and the lower, the brighter it will appear.
Higher aperture can create more focus in your image, which translates to higher sharpness on your focal point.
Keep in mind, adjusting shutter speed and ISO can brighten your image after you find the best aperture for your desired look.
My sweet spot is usually 1 to 2+(higher) than the lowest aperture on the particular lens you are using. For example, if your lens is f1.4, a great point for portraits, that offers both depth and sharpness is going to me 2 above that; so that would be f1.4 or f3.4. Of course the blur will not be as prominent, but your subject will be much sharper as a result.
10. Shoot movement
Posing can seem to be the easiest option, but next time you're shooting try this; tell your subject to move their hands, play with their hair, and walk 3 steps forward and backward. Of course make sure your shutter speed is high enough to compensate for these movements. But this will do two things: 1. give you more candid photos, and 2. help your subject relax, translating to over-all better images.
Movement can give your photos feeling.
Another idea is have them use props and accessories. Taking glasses off and on, picking flowers, or even acting as if they are taking their jacket off and putting it back on. Just make sure they are your focal point, and shoot away!
This is a guide of a few of my favorite go to tips when I'm shooting my images. There are many more coming soon! I hope you enjoyed!