Ever wonder how the REALLY good photographers do what they do? How do they create such sharp images that seem so well composed and simple while also holding an immense amount of complexity?!
I know I have! And so here are a few simple tips to help you improve your photography that you may have never heard anyone say before!
1. Rule of thirds
Every art major like me knows exactly what I’m talking about. Look at this image.
What do you see? A couple being all cuddly? YOU’RE RIGHT!
But what do I see? I see my friends Grace and Josh both occupying both of the right focus intersections. I see Grace in the lower right intersection and Josh in the upper right intersection with lines leading the viewers eyes off the image to the left.
“Huh?!” Here’s a reference for you and to keep this simple I’ll just toss a few examples up and you should be able to quickly master this concept.
Essentially all ya gotta do is divide your photograph into nine squares [I number them on the picture below if you’re confused]. Notice the four intersections where the lines cross [Circled on picture below]. Those points are aesthetically the best places to position the main subject of an image.
Notice it? Or how about this one? Ideally you want to put the EYE of your subject in the focal point, drawing the viewer towards that spot. Here though I was PRETTY close. One more example!
See it?! Top right intersection. This concept is a little confusing at the beginning but give it time and you’re sure to catch on. Just to help, Here’s a couple more.
2. Use two hands
Simple enough but often overlooked! God gave us two hands and one great reason for this is that the human body can more steadily carry any weight when we use two hands instead of just one. It’s not different with your camera! Unless it’s completely necessary, always have both hands on your equipment. Here’s a picture of how I hold everything so that you can more easily see an example.
3. Always keep the camera up
A common mistake photographers make during photography sessions is expecting that their best work will come from posing images. Of course, there is a ton of validity to this. Quite a few of my favorite pictures are staged.
However, there is so much more to life than staged moments and photography is no different! Give it a try! Go take pictures of someone and don’t even put your camera down ONCE. Every time you bring it down, immediately put it back up! You will be amazingly surprised at how many great photos you can achieve from this one technique alone.
You can give directions to a couple from behind the lens and in so doing you may take some of the BEST candid photos you can imagine!
4. Take a TON of Photos
I’m not even talking about practice here! I EXPECT to take 3 blurry photos for every sharp photo I take. MEANING, if I want 15 good photos, I know that I need to get at lest 60 photos just to get enough CLEAR ones. Then, you have to factor in that every clear photo isn’t necessarily a keeper. Therefore, if I want to get enough photos I like, I have to get a TON of photos.
5. Be the person people want to smile for
I believe there are three things that go into every photograph of people. There’s the skill of the photographer, the quality of the light, and the comfort of the person you’re taking a picture of. All three are necessary to construct a great picture and often times when I watch other photographers work, I find that photographers often struggle with helping their clients relax.
And this can be very frustrating! These photographers have honed their technical skills and have found places with GREAT light, but their subjects are so tense and uncomfortable that the other things almost don’t even matter! So my fifth and final tip is all about helping your subjects relax. I could probably write an entire blog post about this and probably will, but for now I’m going to offer two simple things a photographer can do to instantly help their clients trust them more and feel more at ease with themselves.
First, smile at them! The human brain LOVES people that smile, as it creates a warm, safe environment. Second, give people a REASON to smile. Sure, saying “Smile!” is one strategy but if you want REAL, GENUINE smiles in your photographs, I’m going to offer a suggestion. SHF. Simply. Have. Fun. I know not everyone is like me, but I also know a ton of photographers who love to take pictures and SMILE and LAUGH when they look at some of their photographs. You put them in a situation where they are comfortable, and they are the goofiest people. But all of a sudden, they start working with a client, and it’s like the have a complete personality change! All of a sudden they are strictly professional, with zero smiling and CERTAINLY no joking.
Goodness gracious! I’m not going to harp on this forever though it is quite certainly a pet peeve. Just have fun while taking pictures! I have met wedding photographers who won’t eat during their weddings because they are so dang nervous of messing up… WHAT?! If you are that nervous, then why are you a wedding photographer?! HAVE FUN and your clients will have more fun and be more relaxed and your pictures will improve!
If this helped at all don’t be ashamed to let me know! I’d like to talk with you! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if you want to see more photos of these two goobers I talked about this experience here!