Last updated: July 2, 2018
This is an article for those who just bought a DSLR or those who already been photographing for a while and want to step up their game as a photographer.
Photography is an art in itself, and not something that you learn overnight, but with these 12 simple tricks, you will surely become a better photographer and eventually be able to take those pictures that you’ve always dreamt of.
1. Look at the light
It’s no secret that photography and lighting go hand in hand. Without some form of light, it would be impossible to photograph. One could imagine that the camera settings are the first thing you should learn to become a better photographer, but to learn the camera settings will only take you a certain distance.
To get those images that you want, you’ll need to look at the light and see how the light alters the exposure and create different feelings. This is an art in itself, and also not something you’ll learn overnight, but it is something that you must have in mind every time you shoot.
Number one, look at the light and try to see different relationships and how to work with light when shooting.
2. Focus on your photo technology instead of an expensive camera equipment
Sure, a more expensive and better equipment will produce better pictures, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’d still not get those images you want.
A good photographer can take great pictures without the most expensive camera equipment. So, if you want to become a better photographer, you should instead focus on your photo techniques!
3. Learn to use aperture and shutter speed
Aperture and Shutter Speed are two of your best tools and a necessary thing to learn if you want to become a better photographer. Learn how aperture works and how to use the shutter speed to achieve the image results you’re after.
Other camera settings are of course also not bad to learn. But aperture and shutter speed are two of your most valuable tools as a photographer, and it is important to understand how they work together.
Learning these two in your early days will save you both time and provide better image results instantly.
4. Use different composition techniques
The composition is something that often separates the professional photographer from an everyday photographer. It’s amazing how you can change an entire image simply by changing the composition.
Undoubtedly one of the best tricks you can do to become a better photographer!
What do I mean by composition? A picture’s composition means how it is composed and organized, for example, in which part of the image that the subject is placed. As for image composition, there are a couple of proven techniques that will enhance your images immediately if they used properly.
Rule of Thirds
Rule of thirds works like this; you divide an image into nine equal squares (this can be done automatic on most cameras). Then place your subject where the lines meet.
This is a proven technology already used in ancient times in Greece (in paintings). When you put the subject according to the rule of thirds, you usually end up with a more interesting composition.
In the picture below you can see an example of the rule of thirds and where the subject should be placed when using this compositional technique.
Another popular method is the composition of leading lines, which means taking the lines in images that lead the eye into the picture. In the picture below you can see how the pillars and road lead your attention inwards the picture.
This creates an interesting composition and in this case also a kind of mysterious feeling.
Pattern and Symmetry
Similar patterns and symmetrical shapes and lines are good ways to make a more interesting composition. The picture will have more harmony at the same time as it is exciting and offers much to look at without getting messy.
Best of all is if you have a pattern that is interrupted, for example, the peacock below, who interrupts the pattern of the “eyes”. Another example, a picture of hundreds of umbrellas which are all in black color, except one, which is coloured in an intense red color and therefore break the pattern.
To frame the subject is a useful technique that can create beautiful pictures. Natural frames are everywhere, and below you can see a good example of how to use trees to frame your subjects.
Another method is to crop the image to create a more interesting composition. To the left, you have the original image and to the right, you can see the same picture, though it’s cropped. The picture on the left is certainly not bad, but the cropped image is clearly more interesting to watch.
5. Shooting in the golden hour
The light plays a big part in how your pictures will turn out, and many of the best images are being shot during the golden hour, which occurs twice a day. Once in the morning before the sun rises, and once towards evening when the sun is going down.
The light during the golden hour can do amazing things with your photos! You will not have those sharp shadows and light splashes that otherwise would occur at midday when the sun shines brightest.
On www.golden-hour.com you can see exactly when the golden hour takes place in a specific location.
6. Change your position
To constantly photograph from the same angle and position will quickly become boring. All objects and subjects are not the same because you can not shoot anything alike. Change your position towards the subject. Bend down, move to the side, squat, lie down, and so on.
It is only your imagination that puts a stop to the positions you shoot from. An excellent example of how this can change an image is when taking pictures of animals or children.
A good tip is then to go down and shoot at the same level as the animal or child. This often creates a more vivid and compelling picture.
7. Get inspired by others
Do not be shy to ask other photographers, and do not be shy to test their techniques. Check out the work of others and think about how they did and why they chose that particular subject and so on.
Look in magazines, join a photo forum online and follow other photographers on social media. One can learn a lot from others, just as you are doing right now when you’re reading these tricks to become a better photographer.
8. Practice and experiment
Practice makes perfect and if you don’t practice you will not improve. You can learn about shooting all day, but without practice, you will not be able to use the theory in practice.
Meanwhile, if you practice, you should also experiment, both from what you’ ve learned through the internet or books, but also what you feel like experimenting with. As you try different techniques and different settings, you will see the result in front of you and easily connect different context and learn how to use them together.
For every time you experiment and practice, you will also be one step closer to finding your own unique photo style.
9. Photograph what you think is fun to shoot
When you’ve just bought a camera, it can be difficult to know what you like to photograph the most. For me, it’s all about the landscapes and different places, while others think portraits, animals or action are most fun to shoot.
What you are passionate about will always give you the best photos, this is true both outside and within the photographer’s world. If you’re passionate about food photography and think it’s more fun than shooting buildings. Well, then it’s a 99% probability that your food will be better than your architectural pictures.
10. Use manual mode
The day you turn that camera dial to manual mode is the same day you take a big step toward becoming a better photographer. The automatic mode is ideal for people who want to take simple and nice pictures, and not “having” to learn how to use the manual mode.
But for those who are interested and want to get better, there is not much good to say about the auto mode on the camera. The same applies to A, P and S mode. For each thing part the camera takes care of for you, the less you will learn.
You have surely not spent thousands of dollars on lenses and a camera to let it decide how your photos turn out? After all, you are the photographer, and it is in manual mode, you get the best results.
11. Always carry a camera
Always bringing a camera does not mean you need to drag along your DSLR camera wherever you go. Nowadays, most people have a smartphone with a fully functional camera, which means you probably already have a camera with you most of the times.
When you’re shooting with a smartphone, you automatically become more limited since you have fewer choices. Therefore, you need to think more carefully when it comes to composition and light for the image to be as good as possible.
12. Stay positive and challenge yourself
Something that many people forget is that one should always stay positive. This applies not only to photography but to everything you do in life. The more positive you are, the more positive results you expect, the better results you will get.
Being positive is a key to success and if you simultaneously challenge yourself to new levels, it will not be long before you see a noticeable difference.