shooting style

Photography Tip - Slow your photography down

The fastest way to get better at photography is to slow downOne of the fastest ways to improve your photography is to slow down.  I have taught hundreds of people 1-on-1 in the Tampa Bay area and often I see an unnecessary sense of urgency in trying to get a photo among people new to DSLR photography.  It is true, when I am on a job shooting, I defnitely have a sense of urgency to produce in a timely manner, but this is not the case for someone out learning photography.  There is no pressure to produce for a client, and certainly no money on the line when you press the shutter!  So why not slow down and take the pressure off of yourself?  

There are a number of ways to slow down your photography.  One way is to use a tripod.  Attaching your camera to three long legs, having to carry that larger system around, and most significantly being able to set the camera on a stable structure so you do not have to support the weight of it while shooting, all naturally slows things down.  Shooting with a tripod is very relaxing.  You can frame the shot exactly how you want adjusting the tripod head.  You can stop and think as the physical burden of holding the often heavy-ish DSLR and lens is removed.  Picking up, moving, and re-setting up a tripod takes time that you can use to really think about what you would like to photograph next.  

Another way to slow down your photography is to give yourself a shot limit.  When I got my first DSLR in 2008, I took a lot of shots, but at least I was grinding through self-teaching myself photography.  However, even after establishing my 5-step system for shooting in manual mode, I would go to a park or some place and come back with 300+ shots.  That is a lot of shooting when not on a paying job!  There is no way I could have really thought out each of those shots.  So I recommend giving yourself a shot limit.  The next time you go to a park, pretend it's like the film days and give yourself only 24 presses of the shutter, or 36, just choose something less than 50.  Mistakes count as one of those shots.  When thinking of making a photograph you will start to develop a more critical eye and decide is this really something I want to shoot?  What is the subject matter?  What is the story this photograph will tell?

Slowing your photography down by using a tripod and/or giving yourself a shot limit will allow you to answer those questions.  You will also have far fewer shots to go through to find the gems you want to edit and keep.  Try slowing down your photography as you learn and even after you have become an accomplished shooter.  Did you come back home with a higher number of keeper images?

Photography Tip - go minimalist with subject & background

Composed and exposed for minimalism in subject matter and background.One way to create visual appeal in a photograph is to compose for minimalism in both subject and background.  This also results in a very clean looking image.  Sometimes the lack of visuals can create a strong visual.  Nothing ruins a photograph like a busy background.  In the above photo instead of showing the sky, I chose settings that totally blew out the sky creating a pure white background.  This allows the old cable tower to be shown cleanly.  Only part of the cable tower was put in the frame to again focus the subject matter and create a minimalist look.  

The next time you go out shooting try composing for minimalism.  This can be done with any subject matter.  

Photography Tip - leave your camera out ready to shoot

Photography Tip - keep your camera on a shelf with lens cap off ready to shoot at any time!If you are not shooting much from home, maybe it is because your camera is packed away in a bag in the closet somewhere.  A very simple way to start taking more photos at home is by keeping your camera out on a shelf, or table, lens cap off, all ready to just be picked up, turned on and shoot.  Just seeing your camera and having it out will remind you, hey I should be taking some photos to keep in practice.  Another reason to keep your camera at the ready is if you are always seeing good photograph opportunities, but miss them because your camera is four steps away from shoot ready.  For example, if I know I want to make a shot of the sunrise, the night before I have my camera out and on the tripod ready so when I wake up, that is one less hurdle to getting the sunrise photos I want.  

Photography Tip - shoot slowly after you push the shutter exhale and follow through

Wait to do this until you have at least finished pushing the shutter!

I have noticed when people are beginning to formally learn photography they can be impatient with seeing how their shot came out.  I see this behavior when they are shooting.  It seems almost before they have even finished pushing the shutter they are already looking at the back of their camera to see how bad the shot came out.  I always discourage this behavior and encourage taking your time.  Pushing the shutter on your DSLR, and thus starting the action of making a photograph, is a lot like a swinging motion.  The follow-through is important too.  

So when you push the shutter, push it and follow through by holding the shot, by exhaling, letting thoughts flow through your mind about what you just did, and then review your shot on the back of your camera.  If you are so hastily looking at your shot after you take it then you were not ready in the first place to even push the shutter.  Prepare more before pushing the shutter so you know what to expect after you do.