Tips to improve your photos
Get in close
It was the famous photojournalist Robert Capa who once said “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was talking about getting in amongst the action. If you feel like your images aren’t ‘popping’, take a step or two closer to your subject. Fill the frame with your subject and see how much better your photo will look without so much wasted space. The closer you are to the subject, the better you can see their facial expressions too.
Shoot every day
The best way to hone your skills is to practice. A lot. Shoot as much as you can – it doesn’t really matter what. Spend hours and hours behind your camera. As your technical skills improve over time, your ability to harness them to tell stories and should too. Don’t worry too much about shooting a certain way to begin with. Experiment. Your style – your ‘voice’ – will emerge in time. And it will be more authentic when it does. — Leah Robertson
Leah Robertson is a super talented Melbourne based photographer and videographer, specialising in music and documentary photography.You can see her work here.
See the light
Before you raise your camera, see where the light is coming from, and use it to your advantage. Whether it is natural light coming from the sun, or an artificial source like a lamp; how can you use it to make your photos better? How is the light interacting with the scene and the subject? Is it highlighting an area or casting interesting shadows? These are all things you can utilise to make an ordinary photo extraordinary.
Use flash during the day
You might think that you should only use flash at night time or indoors, but that’s not the case at all. If it is an extremely bright day outside and the sun is creating harsh shadows on your subject, switch on your flash. By forcing extra light onto your subject, you will be able to fill in those ugly shadows and create an even exposure.
Take time to think about what is going on in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter. How are you going to compose the shot? How are you going to light it? Don’t jump straight in without giving it some thought first. — Brad Marsellos
This is a technique to use when you want to draw attention to something in your photograph. By framing a scene or a subject, say with a window or an archway, you lead the viewer’s eye to the primary focal point.
Shape with light
Never shoot with the sun directly behind you. It creates boring, flat light on the subject. If you shoot with the light source to the side or behind the subject, you are able to shape with the light, creating a more interesting photo. — Patria Jannides
Patria is not only a talented news photographer, she is also my long term friend, mentor, and personal cheer squad. She even helped me to land my first job as a paid photographer. Thanks for everything P xxx
Keep it simple
Don’t try to pack too many elements into your image; it will just end up looking messy. If you just include one or two points of interest, your audience won’t be confused at where they should be looking or what they should be looking at.
Minimize the belly-button photograph. This is a reference to Moholy Nagy of the Bauhaus movement in photography (which was all about lines of perspective). In other words, perspectives are more engaging when we crouch down, or lie down, or elevate our position in reference to the subject. Look at how changing your perspective can change the visual language and implied power dynamics of the image. Crouching low can make your subject more dynamic, whereas gaining height on your subject can often minimize their presence in the image. One of my favorite exercises is to make my students lie down and take pictures, often in the dirt. I am a little cheeky. — Heather Faulkner
Be aware of backgrounds
What’s in your frame? So often I see great photos and think “didn’t they see that garbage bin, ugly wall, sign, etc?” It’s not just the person or object in your frame, it’s everything else in the background that can make or break a great photograph. So don’t be afraid to ask the person to move (or move yourself) to avoid something ugly in the background. — Marina Dot Perkins
Rule of Thirds
This is one of the most common tips that pop up when it comes to improving your photos.
To break it down, you cut your frame into thirds by using both horizontal and vertical lines. You then place your point of interest over the cross sections of the grid.
Check out this article for further details about using the rule of thirds.
Variation is key. I often use a recipe from Life Magazine picture editors for building a story narrative. I look for: over-all shots or scene-setters, interaction, action, portraits, details, medium shots and of course the signature image. Having this list in my head helps me start photographing a story that sometimes isn’t visually apparent until you get into it. This is great when you’re in a crowded or busy place. — Heather Faulkner
When photographing people, especially while in countries with different cultures and languages, it can be hard to communicate. In certain countries if you photograph someone you are not ‘supposed’ to photograph, it can get ugly and rough very quickly if you are not careful. So out of respect you should always ask permission. I have started shooting a series of school children in Pakistan. These are all posed portraits and they are looking down the lens. My guide helps me with the language and I limit myself to smiling, shaking hands, giving ‘hi-five’ and showing them the image on the back of my camera once it is done. You would be amazed how quickly people open up. — Andrea Francolini
Andrea Francolini is a well known Italian born, Sydney based sports photographer. He is also the founder of My First School, as trust which has the aim to facilitate educations in Northern Pakistan. You can see his work here.