As a photographer I am asked often if people can accompany me on a shoot. Part of this is due to the POD (Photo O Day project). I love it when I have company. It is even better when it is someone who wants to learn something more about photography or already has that passion that I can learn from. You never know where I am going to end up on this daily quest. Typically I am alone when I shoot. The opportunity to have company is welcome.
During each of these times I find that I am stating the same several things to people. I thought I might share these things blog style.
So let’s get started! Keep your camera with you is the first thing I tell everyone. I, of course, get crazy looks at statement. Cameras are so diverse now. It can be as easy as keep your phone with you. Let’s see a show of hands here: How many of you do not keep your phone with you? The modern cell phones are so efficient and technically amazing in their cameras. The process of setting up and Instagram and running with it is easy and fun.
This leads right into the next item: The type of camera only matters if you let it. Some of my best pictures would have been missed if I had left the phone at home as I had already left THE camera at home. I have been out shot with everything from a cell phone to old point and shoots VS my Nikon D7000. I believe I found religion in that camera, but some days my 7000 can’t hold up to an IPhone. The picture below is with my windows phone.
The two most intimidating things about taking pictures frequently have now been rendered null and void. Once you start keeping your camera in mind and with you the rest just gets more and more fun. From there it is simple to get slightly better pictures. It is also easy to get better feedback on your pictures. It may seem like better pictures would equal out to better feedback but that is only partially true.
The idea of slightly better pictures should be handled first. In this day and age so many people are taking really bad pictures. I look at thousands of pictures every week. I like to see what is new, upcoming and current for the trends. (This is not the time and place to discuss that I immediately try to do none of those types of shots) While looking at the pictures this is what I commonly find.
The perspective is wrong. A picture of a child is being shot from the eye level of an adult. Essentially you are looking down on the child. I find that being on the same level of a child is much more fun. Get low and get down to the level of your topic. Children, people sitting, animals and flowers all benefit from this tactic.
The next most common thing I see is dead space. This is the part of the picture that has nothing to do with the topic you are shooting. If your topic does not fill enough of the frame get closer, and then consider getting even closer. Dead space in a picture can lead to two things: a picture being cluttered because the dead space is full of stuff that does not pertain to the picture OR it can make your topic look insignificant. While there may be a time and a place for that, this post is about the basics. Taking pictures means being aware of what is going on around your topic. We get so focused on the topic we forget to see what is around the topic and adjust for it.
The horizon in your picture is a part of what is going on around your topic. It should be straight. This is a topic that is harshly judged in critiques and reviews. More importantly 95% of the time it will not look right. Most people will not notice this, what they will notice is they like the straightened one without knowing why. People see the horizon straight. Slanted horizons look unnatural to our brains as a result. Photographers will notice it and understand why, common photo lovers may not.
Our brains are wired in weird ways. The person who takes a picture will immediately upon seeing it understand why they took it. The viewer has a harder time with that. Keeping your pictures simple helps your viewer to understand why a picture was taken. Let’s say you see one flower in a field that stands out to you. You take a picture of the area with that flower. That area might have ten other flowers. Will your viewer understand which one you loved? Keep it simple; snap the picture of just the one flower. This might be a case where two pictures are needed. One of the field and one of the single flower might help to show what you saw. These two pictures are also a good example of getting in closer.
This is the best example I can also use for my last topic today. No one wants to see 15 pictures of the same thing from a slightly different angle or perspective. If you decide to share your pictures with the world, choose only a few and choose wisely. In the case of the flowers two might be nice. Fifteen is not. The pictures you share should be about quality not quantity. Our society has taught us to move on and move quickly. The quality of pictures you share will cause people to slow down and enjoy. Quantity will cause them to move on. Quality will result in better feedback. Better feedback will increase the confidence of posting these pictures. It can be hard to post pictures because of the fear of bad or no feedback. We can help ourselves in that but posting carefully.
The bottom line is a few simple things can help you to face the intimidation you may feel. From there the world is your photo opportunity.
Let’s review the basics in a nice easy simple way.
My camera of whatever variety is with me.
I will get close to the topic while being on the topics level.
I will be aware of things surrounding my topic.
My goal is quality not quantity.
Now the adventure begins. Go forth into this amazing world we live in and experiment, practice and enjoy the adventures that wait for us.
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