Taking photographs is a great way to record memories and tell stories. However, if you have taken up photography as a hobby or are taking your first steps to becoming a professional photographer, then using a camera can seem overwhelming. Mastering the art of taking better pictures is all about understanding some of the fundamental basics of photography. To start your journey, below are three simple ways to improve your photography skills.
1. Understand your equipment
It might seem intuitive, but one of the most important things to do when you own a camera is to read through the user manual. Your camera manual is full of useful information that can help you to get the most out of your device, and it might even contain tips and tricks to help you to take better photos.
Start by learning what each button on your camera is for and then try to work out how to use some of the different settings. Moreover, the only way to take better pictures is to understand the basic features of the specific camera.
You do not need the most expensive camera to take better shots, though. Instead, simply learn how to make the most out of what you already have.
Practice by testing out some of the different settings and take simple shots with plain backgrounds. Once you feel more confident, you can move on to more complicated scenes and can even introduce some equipment to improve the quality of your images. Investing in a tripod or one of the best ring lights is all it might take to elevate your photos to the next level. Just remember to do plenty of research to find the right photography equipment and accessories for your needs.
2. To improve your photography skills, learn composition rules
In photography, composition is something that you can learn about without getting your hands on an actual camera. Correct composition is all about the proper placement of the subject (the point of interest) and the placement of other elements so that they can guide the viewer into perceiving the photograph as intended.
Of course, there are always going to be times where breaking the rules can have artistic results. But even if you want to deviate from the rules of composition, you must first know what they are.
For instance, the rule of thirds involves separating your image into three intersecting points of interest. For portrait images, your eyes should be drawn to the top points of the intersections, and in landscape images, the sky and earth can typically form part of your thirds. Similarly, the rules of symmetry also apply, so they are important to consider to improve your photography skills. In symmetrical photographs, your subject must be placed in the centre and any lines should be straight, parallel and symmetrical.
Furthermore, guiding or leading lines can be used to guide the eyes of the viewer towards the point of interest. The lines can be real or simulated with lights or editing. For portrait images, this can be subtle, and in landscape images, it can be more direct.
3. Ask for feedback
Feedback is one of the only ways to be sure that you are making real progress with your photography skills. Although putting your photographs out there can seem intimidating at first, feedback from other people can help you to identify what you are doing wrong so that you can make improvements.
Photo sharing platforms like Flickr, social media websites like Instagram, and photography forums allow you to upload your work for critique. If you are shy, or if you are a total photography novice, then you might want to share your images with your family and friends first.
Photography websites are a fantastic channel for learning and sharing knowledge to improve your photography skills. Photography is generally seen as a solitary pursuit and something that people do on their own for creative expression. That being said, thoughtful criticism can push you closer towards your goals of developing a technical eye and a unique artistic voice.
In addition, feedback is most helpful when it is focused, so if you would like support with lighting, for instance, be sure to ask for technical insights. Above all, always be thankful for criticism. It is not your duty to explain away criticisms or justify any weaknesses, but this does not mean that you cannot take useful pointers and direction in the form of relevant and useful feedback from photographers with similar styles to your own.
Improve your photography skills, starting today
Ultimately, as long as you keep the basic principles of photography in mind, you are likely to notice a marked improvement in the quality of your photos. Becoming a professional photographer might not happen overnight, but by applying new techniques, there is no reason why you cannot start to enjoy capturing scenes and memories to treasure forever.
Looking for even more ways to expand your photography skills? Take a look at this helpful guide to choosing the right photography class for you.