When most people are given a camera, they usually know two things:
- Hold that button thingy half-way down to focus the shot
- Press the button thingy all the way down to take the photo
Whether you’re an organization without a designated photographer or the everyday person looking to take better pictures, everyone should and can easily possess some basic photography skills.
Now, although I primarily work in accounts for Calder Bateman, I’ve always found a creative outlet in photography. There is something beautiful in capturing a moment that will never exist again.
But, how can we capture those moments more efficiently?
Here are a few of my simple tips to improve your photography so that the next time you’re in a bind and need some nice photos, you can take it upon yourself to get the job done, and be proud of the results.
Note: my examples are primarily nature shots, however these tips apply to all types of photography.
1. Think Differently
When you approach taking a photo, whether it be a person or a mountain, try thinking about what the most typical place the photo would be taken from and the most common way someone would photograph it, and do the opposite. You wouldn’t want your business to be like anyone else’s, so why should your photography?
Take the time to search for a different perspective and make it your own. Try different angles and positions, and explore the infinite possibilities of your camera.
A standard 20 second exposure of the night sky vs. a ten-minute exposure of the milky way, using a phone light to alter colours. These are three simple changes that make the photo on the right extremely unique.
2. Let There Be Light
Approaching lighting can seem scary. “What if I don’t have any lighting equipment?” Luckily, you don’t necessarily need it to take a great photo.
It’s all about strategically picking the time and place to shoot, and it can be extremely simple.
- If you can, find natural light. Utilizing natural light to your advantage will work better than most artificial setups. If you’re shooting inside, move near a window. This will naturally defuse light.
- Look to shoot during the golden hour – the hour just after sunrise and right before sunset. This is the optimal lighting for portraits and landscape shots.
- Try to avoid harsh shadow contrasts. If you’re having shadow troubles, shoot in the shade for an even exposure.
- If you’re shooting at night, try to artificially light the subject (could be something as simple as a phone light).
- Don’t use flash indoors – often times it actually works better on a bright day to even out shadows.
This is a shot I took during the tail end of the golden hour.
3. Composition Beats the Competition
Almost anyone can buy a camera and press a button. It’s the photo’s personality and composition that make it stand out. Composition can bring balance, style and creativity to your photography. Here a few tips:
- Shoot Through Things – It’s easy to take a portrait of a person. Instead, look for surroundings to shoot through. For example, if your shooting your subject around trees, take a step back into the branches, shoot through the leaves, and frame your subject. It can create beautiful blurs and adds layers to your pictures.
- Experiment with Perspective – Try different angles, looking low or high, emphasizing different portions of the foreground. Look for reflections from water, glass, and mirrors. The second it takes for the viewer to figure out the photo is what will keep it in their mind.
This photo was taken upside down, using the water’s reflection as an entrancing confusion. Photo credit: @kareemchic
- Play with Scale – A quick way to make a photo interesting is to contrast size and force perspective to make things look bigger or smaller than they actually are.
- Add More Elements to Your Photos – Add either objects or people into your photos in ways that communicate the story you’re trying to tell. They won’t be the focal point of your photos, but they will elevate the mood and feeling your photo evokes.
- The Rule of Thirds – This rule breaks up your field of view into thirds. If you place points of interest at the intersections or along these lines, your photo becomes more balanced. It can be a great starting point to frame your shots, but remember, rules were made to be broken.
Taking good quality photos doesn’t have to be overwhelming, or involve a lot of equipment. You would be surprised with what you could come up with after spending only an hour trying different things.
Test out some of these techniques and tweet us your shots @CalderBateman!
Want to see how powerful visuals can impact your marketing and advertising? Send Seth an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.