Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Hi, I'm Emma. A self taught photographer based in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. I thought i better start with that since this is my first ever blog post. Now that that's over, lets get into what this post is about, how to improve your photography when you are starting out.
FYI, I am in no way a professional photographer but these are some really easy things that cost me nothing and allowed me to dramatically improve my photos really fast.
Tip One: Shoot in Auto mode
Okay so you haven't heard this tip anywhere before? Yeah, I hadn't either, which is why it's my first tip!
Manual mode can be completely overwhelming when you are starting out and that's what happened to me. My photos were way to dark or way to over exposed, and I kept missing picture perfect moments as I was messing around with the manual settings. It was really discouraging as I thought the only way I could improve my photos was if i shot them in manual. This however is not the case, even now some of my favourite photos were shot in Auto mode.
While you are still learning the basics and how to work your camera i would encourage you to shoot in auto until you have the time to understand how manual settings work.
Tip Two: Learn The Rule Of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a common photography law that describes the composition of elements in a photo within the frame. It is said that following the rule of thirds creates the most striking visual images.
See the above image by Gina Yeo is divided into 9 squares. The main focus of the image is off centre to the left, a third of the way in and roughly centred vertically. This allows room in the rest of the frame for white space or other minor elements.
Alternatively you can use any intersecting point on the grid as your focal point.
You can play with the settings on your camera to shows this grid on your LCD screen so its always a present reminder while you are shooting.
Tip Three: Lighting
All the editing in the world wont be able to beat great natural light, especially if we're talking golden hour.
If your shooting outdoors try and time it when the sun is low so you get the nice warm natural light, creating natural shadows and highlights. First light or when the sun is setting is best.
If your shooting inside choose a room with lots of natural light. I always shoot small items and products on a table in my bedroom using the light from my windows.
Tip Four: Change The Background
This tip applies to staged or planned photo sessions and is pretty self explanatory.
For example, the above photo I shot in my bedroom using the natural light from my window and my wardrobes as the white backdrop. My walls are grey and the books just popped a lot more and the photo just looked a lot nicer with the white background as opposed to the darker grey. This is a really easy tip and can change your whole image simply by changing the background slightly.
Tip Five: Shoot From Different Angles
This tip follows on nicely from the above. While changing the background improves your image so does simply taking a step left or right or doing a 180 to get a different angle of essentially the same thing.
You yourself can move around or you can rotate the content in your image. For this example I've opened the above book and shot it from a low angle.
Its crazy what a simple step forward or back, left or right can do to the final image (don't forget high and low angles.)
I would encourage you to take lots of photos, even if you think it doesn't look good in the live viewer. Some of my best photos i thought were rubbish at the time but turned out really good after a little bit of editing. So again, another easy tip which leads me in to my next...
Tip Six: Shoot In Vertical And Horizontal
These two images combine my last few tips. Essential the same item and layout shot from different angles, sides and orientations.
I can't tell you the number of times I've shot an image horizontal and needed it vertical so I've had to crop it drastically which takes away from the quality and composition.
In summary, shoot your shots in both orientations, if it ends up being a great photo you or your clients can use whichever they prefer without compromise.
Tip Seven: Clarity
No point having an amazing photo with perfect composition but it comes out blurry, it will be completely useless, which obviously sucks and is not what we are after.
Shoot using both hands, with auto focus and lean against something if you can, even better, sit you camera on something steady. See, i told you these tips were easy!
When you progress in photography there's a lot more you can do to improve the clarity of your images in camera and even post production but that's not the point of this beginner blog.
Tip Eight: Use Props
This photo was taken during my quarantine lock down challenge. I originally planned for the photos to be of an old record player and some old records but they weren't quite cutting it.
I added this red solo cup as a prop and I feel it brings the image to life and adds a little more of a background story than the photos without the cup...
Example number two, another lock down photo I took inside my house. I was photographing fruit on a white platter however they weren't coming out how I'd liked, so i added some background food, a chopping board and cutlery for props and managed to capture something I was happier with.
Tip Nine: Research Photos + Take Your Time
When I'm practicing photography at home I take my time and muck around for ages! I spend hours on pinterest researching other photographers and see what they're doing and what I can replicate to improve my own arsenal of skills. Furthermore I spend ages shooting the same objects from all angles etc... Usually it leads me to get two or three really strong images out of a session.
Before I went out and shot this old abandoned house I researched other photos on it so i knew which angle looked best and what kinda image I wanted to produce before i got there.
Tip Ten: Take Your Camera Everywhere
You never know who or what you'll run in to whether it be a perfect sunset or your friend all dressed up.
Trust me when I say, there's nothing worse than being an aspiring photographer without your camera.
And that's it for my beginners top tips. Congratulations if you got this far & I hope some of these may help you with your photography.
Drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of my first ever blog and feel free to submit any of your photographs, id love to see what you guys come up with.