If photography was as easy as buying bigger and better gear or having a Facebook page, we would all be photographers by now. However, that’s not how it works and it’s a good thing, too. The journey from being a beginner and finally achieving the status of being a pro is half the fun of photography. Most people give up on photography because they get disheartened after having spent thousands of dollars on their gear only to realize that they are still not able to get “good” pictures. This happens when they try and copy someone else’s style.
So as beginners, we’ve got a lot of work to do. But you will soon see that this is what the zen system of photography is all about.
The points I’ve discussed below are things that I used to do when I first bought my DSLR and it helped me a great deal. So without further ado, here are some things which all of you beginning with photography must practice every day.
Choose your focus
Every picture that you take boils down to one particular aspect of photography which communicates your POV to your audience. It’s the focus. The point where you focus in an image can have a dramatic impact on your viewers. Do it wrong, and you will be sending your image for a toss.
Shoot what you like
Do not get choosy with your shots. Look at the world around you and be aware of things that inspire you. It could be something as simple as kids running around in the park or a jet flying in the sky leaving a trail of smoke behind it. Go for what interests you. Shoot what you want rather than what you need. This technique will help you bring out the best in you. Keep doing this and after some time, you will surely see a big difference from the time when you started shooting until now.
Move beyond your comfort zone
I know, you must be thinking that I am contradicting what I said just now in point two. Well, not really. There is a difference. What I am trying to say is shoot what you like, but think differently every time you shoot. Love doing portraits with a 50 mm prime? Give an 18-55 mm or telephoto zoom lens a chance. Try it with a fisheye lens too if you have one.
Love doing tilt-shift on a busy road during the day? Try a slow shutter, long exposure of the same road to get light trails at night.
Refine your processing skills
I feel like a kid in an art class when I am editing my images in Photoshop or Lightroom. All those filters and sliders make me feel like I am bending the images to my will, to shape them as I see fit. The key to good processing is not to overdo anything. Processing is only a means to bring out the hidden beauty of your images. Your shots cannot entirely be depending on processing itself.
Rule of thirds
I am not sure of the exact science behind this trick but it works. Rule of thirds is where we visualize the image to be divided into 9 equal parts forming a grid. The rule is to place the main subject in focus along these lines. Just give it a try. The moment you move your subject away from the center and place it a little to the left or right, you will see a huge difference between these two compositions and you will feel the rule of thirds composition to be better than the regular center placed composition.
Know your gear
If you are not familiar with the gear you use, you will most probably land bad shots. Understanding how your camera works will help you realize what exactly is your camera capable of. It’s the first step in going from shooting in auto to shooting in manual mode.
Get a hang of Photoshop layers
Talking about post-processing, I suggest every beginner that they understand how to work with Photoshop layers. Editing images in Photoshop open doors to a variety of photography techniques like HDR, cloning, double exposure, etc. It’s the best place to start learning Photoshop and add a new dimension to your creativity.
Interact with other photographers
Join photography groups on Facebook, post on Flickr, join conversations and interact with other photographers. You will get to learn a lot and eventually you will also start sharing your knowledge with others.
Don’t be afraid of the dark
Most amateur photographers stow their cameras away as soon as their sun begins to set but that’s the biggest mistake one can make. The nighttime displays the world in front of you under a different light. It’s the time to try out long exposures, external flashes, rear curtain sync, light trails etc. Play with the slow shutter options and there is so much more than you will be able to do apart from shooting in broad daylight.
Practice, practice, and practice
You don’t have to do all of these photography techniques every single day. Do one thing at a time but keep doing it daily. You will soon familiarize yourself with your camera, it’s capabilities which will help you to manipulate it creatively to create stunning images. Practice only makes you perfect. So keep at it. Even if you fail to get good shots to keep shooting with an intention of taking a better picture than your last one. You will soon see a difference in the images that you are shooting now and those which you had shot earlier.