I should begin by saying that this post has a target audience. It is for anyone that wants to be a better photographer, but is either too lazy to read her manual, or too busy to find the time to make it happen. If you are a legit photographer, or if you are the smarty-pants kind that reads the fine print of her camera’s manual, you will be bored to tears with the amateur nature of this post, and likely offended by it’s content.
Here’s the thing, I want to be good at a lot of things. Every time I get involved in a hobby type project, I immediately begin getting frustrated that I have not mastered it. Take sewing for example. I’m not a sewer. I like sewing. I’m interested in sewing. I really wish I could make elaborate gowns for my children, but it’s just not gonna happen, because I like painting a lot more than sewing. So I have to settle for the occasional curtain panel that I hack my way through making. We can’t be expert’s at everything, and if I am going to pursue something, it’s not gonna be sewing. If I have free time, I’m going to be pursuing my art instead. Photography is the same way for me. I want to know everything about my camera, but there are just not enough hours in the day to learn it. And so, I have learned a few tricks to cheat the system a little. Will they produce professional level results? Not a chance. Will they be good enough though? Yeah, probably, most of the time.
So herein lies the content of this post: A few tips to getting a semi(ish)-professional look, without knowing much about your camera. You should know that I shoot with a Canon Rebel. I think there are a few different kinds, like maybe XSI, or XTI….or something like that. I have no idea which I have, and my lens is the one that came with the camera.
First tip(s): Let the sun do all the work for you, never use a flash, and shoot close-ups as much as you can.
My favorite time to shoot is 5:00 in the evening. Before that the sun is just too bright for me to work with. If I knew my camera, I could make adjustments and I would be able to make it work (but we have already been through that). If you are an early riser, 7ish to 8ish in the morning gives a beautiful glow to pictures as well. Here are few examples of pictures I have taken that show how great a close-up can look, and/or how the sunlight makes all the difference:
Second tip: Use a step ladder and shoot from a different angle.
Photography can get boring if you are always on the same plane as your subject. Switch it up and snap a different view when possible. Here are a few more I have taken that I think are just fun angles, and somehow tell a more interesting story:
Third tip: Think outside the box.
Look at photography magazines (I subscribe to Brides Magazine just to look at the pretty pictures). Use props. Find your subject’s interests, and then incorporate them into the shoot. Let the person you are taking pictures of be who they are, it always creates a better look than when a pose is forced. My husband thought I was nuts when I carried my tufted linen chair out of our bedroom to go place it in a street for pictures, but we got some great shots with it!
Last tip: Let your background do all the talking.
Sometimes all you have to do is just point the camera and press the button. Whenever I stop trying to create the perfect picture set-up, is often when I can find the perfect shot. Do you see something as simple and as beautiful as a sunset? Then widen out your lens, get as much of it as you can in the picture, and snap it. The picture below of my niece and daughter is a great example of that. I could have gotten right up on them to take the picture and it would have been cute (they both are edible); but by allowing the scene to be seen, I was able to tell a better story.
And that really is the point anyways. What are you trying to capture? What are you trying to create? What story are you trying to tell?
For anyone out there that is seeking better info and legitimately wanting to learn how to become a better photographer; I have found a few places that are amazing. Places that I wish I had more time to spend reading and learning from. The best one is over at Darcy’s place, Life with My 3 Boybarians. Darcy has written two amazing photography series that are radically helpful. Also, Fro Knows Photo has great tutorials on a lot of topics. He does tons of 5 minute YouTube clips that walk you through the details of your camera. I sometimes find it much simpler to listen to someone give me directions, rather than read it…but that’s just me. Lastly, you can search photography tips on Pinterest (who would of thought) and find many great photography websites offering a lot of tips. I have pinned a few on my Photography Pinterest board, but there are countless more out there.
Have fun with your camera! If you know of any other great sites, I would love to hear about them. Leave me a comment so I can check them out.
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