Although I am not a professional photographer, in the sense that I do not make a living out of this occupation, I have been an active photography enthusiast for more than 30 years. Moreover, I have also attended a couple of interesting photography courses, read several interesting books and many specialised magazines over the years. Therefore, based on my practical experience and readings, the goal of this article is to share a selection of 50 interesting tips and suggestions, which can help many other amateur and photography enthusiasts like me to improve their skills and learning something that might be different for them.
By the way, in case you would like to know more about my photography career, I publish and keep my portfolio on four major stock image websites as follow: 500px, Getty Images, Pexels, and Twenty20, which you are more than welcome to visit at any time. Finally, I have also published several travel photo books which you can check and download on my website at Payhip.
(1) Learn as much as you can about photography
Whether you want to start a photography career on the right path or just to improve your skills, I suggest that read as much as you can to learn about interesting and useful techniques, new equipment and accessories, contests and exhibitions in your area, and much more. You can browse for specialised content online, purchase books or subscribing to magazines, for example.
(2) Purchase the best camera that you can afford
Even if you are still at the starting point of your photography career, it is recommended that you try to purchase the best camera you can afford and feels comfortable with. Since new models come out at a fast pace, purchasing the best camera that you can afford will give you several years of peace of mind without the need to make more investment in updating your equipment in short periods. Moreover, chances are that this model will help you to produce the type of pictures you want to take.
(3) A quality sturdy tripod comprises a good investment
Briefly speaking, a tripod helps you to take good and very steady pictures. On top of that, the tripod also comprises an essential accessory to allow you to explore different angles and innovative positions which most probably you would not be able to perform holding the camera manually.
(4) Explore different times of the day take your pictures
Timing your shots well is one of the keys to taking amazing pictures, especially for outdoor photography where natural daylight can have a big impact on the quality and final result of your pictures. Usually, early in the morning allow you to take fantastic outdoor pictures. However, try also to explore other times of the day such as early or middle afternoon or even late afternoon. You will have different results regarding the amount of daylight and shadows but depending on your creativity, you can explore these aspects to your benefit to produce nice and innovative effects.
(5) Do not be afraid of trying new angles and positions
Usually, beginner photographers tend to stick to a single angle and position when taking their pictures. In doing that, they are preventing themselves from discovering new points of view, which can have very interesting outcomes. Thus, try to explore as many possibilities as you can think of such as, for example, from the top or below, and also to use a tripod to help you in this exploratory journey.
(6) Try to capture candid shots
Looking for candid shots can provide you with more opportunities of taking interesting shots. The key aspect of this kind of picture is that you capture scenes where people are not looking at the camera. Instead, they are naturally doing their usual activities, and these moments can allow you to make fantastic shots.
(7) Whenever possible, add a UV filter to your camera
Ultraviolet filters can provide your camera with the protection that it needs to remain in excellent conditions. Place the filters in front of your camera lenses, so that your lenses will be protected from scratches or accidental knocks. Consequently, your lenses, which are expensive items, will also last much longer.
(8) Chose a digital camera with built-in vibration reduction technology
Nothing can be more frustrating than taking nice pictures and then discover that they were blurred due to shaky hands. However, fortunately, most current digital cameras (including smartphones) are provided with built-in vibration technology, which automatically compensates for such unexpected and unwanted problems. Therefore, make sure to go for it when purchasing your new camera.
(9) Protecting your camera lenses
Camera lenses are usually expensive items and you should take good care of them. To make sure that they will not get damaged while being carried in your bag, you can, for example, use hiking socks to protect them. All you have to do is to cut the shocks into their proper sizes, just ensuring that the socks are clean so that your lens would not get any dirt from them.
(10) Allow some breathing time to examine photos taken
Checking out your work after a couple of days or even weeks can provide you with a new feeling for the photos. Moreover, it will also allow you to see what you did right, and what you did wrong. More importantly, even if you did really well with them, you can use them as your guide to making improvements.
(11) Taking pictures of fast-moving or unpredictable subjects.
On some occasions, you want to capture an image or a sequence of images of subjects that are erratic or moving fast, like a dog playing around the garden for example. To ensure that you can capture a decent picture, simply use your camera’s continuous shooting mode. With that, it can take several shots in just a second, which would give you the chance to catch a good frame.
(12) Becoming a wedding photographer
If you want to become a wedding photographer, you want to start it right, so that you can get more clients. Staring outright in photography means gathering more information about it. However, you should also practice more; and, one of the best ways to do that is to volunteer as one of the photographers for your friend’s or relative’s wedding celebration. Alternatively, you can also volunteer to assist experienced professional photographers and learn the trade from them.
(13) How to ensure that you are purchasing the right lenses
Lenses are available in a myriad of models and types and, moreover, they tend to be expensive. Thus, to ensure sure that you are purchasing the right one, check with your local retailer the possibility of renting certain types of lenses for a couple of days first, so that you can check out their main functionalities and characteristics, which should help you make a well-informed purchase.
(14) Create a homemade lightbox to take pictures of commercial goods
If you are trying to sell certain products online and you want to take pictures of them, you should have a good lightbox for it, so that your pictures will look better. A homemade lightbox can be made with a cardboard box and tracing paper. With your homemade lightbox, you can take quality pictures of the products, which would help to sell them faster. Moreover, do not forget to use a tripod to produce really good and professional-looking pictures.
(15) Lower down your camera
In most cases, you would usually take a picture standing up. Try lowering it down for certain types of shots, so that you can also explore different angles. Checking out different perspectives can provide you with more options on how you want to go about taking a picture of your subject. Besides that, lowering down your camera is one of the best things to do when your subject is small or short.
(16) Make your hobby pay you for all your hard work
An interesting (and rewarding) way of gaining increased motivation for making amazing pictures is selling them on stock image websites. There are plenty of them out there and, briefly speaking, these websites display your pictures to people who are looking for the best images for their marketing initiatives. In other words, if companies find that your pictures are of good quality, and they apply them to their projects, then they can purchase them.
(17) Protect the LCD screen of your camera
You should protect your camera’s LCD screen at all times since it is where you check the images you have captured. Thus, to ensure that is protected from scratches, dirt or accidental damages, use the cover provided with your model. Consequently, you can maintain the quality of your digital camera for a longer period.
(18) Manage the light accordingly
Capturing light for the picture that you are taking is considered by some as an art. To manipulate light, you must consider its different sources such as the sun, flashes, and lamps. You must know that these different sources may also need different tools to take advantage of them, such as reflectors, diffusers, and snoots.
(19) Use your flash outdoors
This idea may seem a bit funny or strange for some people. However, using your flash when you are taking pictures outside can actually be a good idea. It is often referred to by professionals as “fill flash”. Using your flash outside can help light up your subject even on a sunny day, especially if the light is coming from behind them. However, the efficacy also depends on the distance between you and the subject and the flash power capacity, otherwise, it will not make any difference.
(20) Do not forget to make backups
Backing up your images either on your computer or an external hard drive is extremely important. Your photos are precious for you and every precaution to safeguarding them is never too much.
(21) Be careful with the built-in flash
Using the built-in flash of your camera can provide an undesirable effect on your subject. It can leave your subject with too much light. Thus, if you can afford it, it may be a good idea to invest in purchasing a quality external flash. Pair it with a diffuser and learn how to use them properly to obtain the best photo quality.
(22) Talk to your subjects
When you are making portraits, it is advisable to talk to your subjects while you are taking the pictures. This will make them feel at ease and more comfortable before the camera, which makes the photos look more natural. Besides, it can also provide you with a chance to take interesting candid shots.
(23) Testing out the modes of your camera
If you have just bought a brand-new camera, one of the first things that you can do is to test out its different modes. You should try out its auto mode, manual mode, and such. By doing that, you would become more familiar with its settings and confident in how to use them properly. Thus, you would learn more about what settings to use in different types of photo taking.
(24) What to do when you do not have a tripod
If you do not have a tripod, you can still take quality photos by bracing yourself while shooting. You can do this by leaning against a wall or resting your camera on top of a stable object. Besides, to ensure that the photos are not blurred, it is best to hold your breath when pressing the shutter button.
(25) Doing a trick with sunglasses
Increasing the colour saturation of your pictures can still be done even with the use of a compact camera. All you have to do is to hold your sunglasses on top of the lens, which would serve as its polarising filter. This will reduce glare and reflections. However, take a few shots first, so that you can be sure that you will not include the frames of your sunglasses in the picture.
(26) Do some experiment
Many beginner photographers are pretty serious about following all the techniques they have learnt in the books and magazines they have read. To stand out from the crowd, you should do some experiments by not sticking to the rules all the time. When you do that, you will be able to discover new techniques, compare different perspectives and discover what works best for you.
(27) Build your portfolio
Whether you want to become a professional photographer or not, building a portfolio can still offer many advantages. There are several websites where you can do that either for free or by paying a subscription fee. A few examples include 500px, Flickr, Pexels, and Twenty20, but there are many more. By doing that, you will be able to check your photos easily, even when you are away from home, and set your standards higher.
(28) Ensure that the photo tells a story
Before hitting the shutter button and taking a picture, it is better to take some time to check your subject, as well as the frame. Try seeing if the subject blends well with its background and other elements that would be included in the photo. By doing that, you will be able to ensure that your photograph tells a story.
(29) Setting yourself up for a challenge
Improving your creativity can be done by challenging yourself in taking at least one good photograph each day. Even if you do not feel like it, you should stand up and take a picture even for the most uninspiring objects. By doing that, you will realize that you can simply use your imagination to take interesting pictures.
(30) Do read the camera’s user manual
Many people today do not take the time to read the user manual of their digital cameras, assuming that all the functions can be learnt by simply playing with them. However, if you try to sit down and give it some time, you will realise that there are things that you can really learn from it. Reading your user manual will allow you to have complete control over your camera and master all its features.
(31) Shooting pictures in the city
For some people, taking pictures in the city might not look that interesting. However, there are actually many ways to overcome this. An interesting trick comprises going to a multi-story car park and take pictures at its different levels. This strategy will allow you to produce great views of the city and innovative perspectives in comparison to the usual shots at ground level.
(32) Preventing your subject from closing their eyes
If you usually end up with pictures of kids closing their eyes when they blink at the wrong moment, you can actually do a simple trick to prevent it from happening again. You can simply tell them to close their eyes and open them only when you say so. Tell them to smile as well, so that you will be able to take a good portrait picture, which has their eyes opened and they are smiling.
(33) Not having the right exposure
Sometimes it can be tricky to get the right exposure with a new camera. To fix it, you can position it in Auto Mode and take a snap at an object. If the picture comes out in good quality, then check out the settings that the camera has chosen for it. Then, take note of the settings, so that you can follow them in the future.
One of the best things about current digital cameras comprises the fact that they can allow you to have your own pre-sets. With pre-sets, you can identify the settings that you deem most appropriate for certain scenes you often shoot. Then, save your pre-sets, so that you can easily activate them whenever needed.
(35) How to take pictures of fireworks
Fireworks can be tricky to capture, however, there are certain steps that you can follow to take beautiful photos of them. One of them is to use a tripod and ensure that your focus is set to its maximum level. Besides, use longer shutter speeds for around one to five seconds.
(36) Shooting a moving object
If you want to take pictures of a moving object, then make sure that your camera is equipped with an autofocus-tracking mode or similar feature. This enables your camera to track the moving object automatically, while constantly adjusting its focus. Then, just make sure to get the right composition to produce a nice picture.
(37) Enjoying your hobby the most you can
If you want to become good at photography, you should learn to enjoy it. Do not be too hard on yourself whenever you produce shots that are not satisfactory enough. Getting bad shots can happen even to the best professional photographers. When that happens, just challenge yourself to do it better next time and practice more.
(38) Using natural reflectors
Using natural reflectors can bring out the best in your photographs. For example, if you are shooting pictures at the beach, the white sand can serve as your giant reflector. To take advantage of it, have your subject sit down on the sand. Besides sand, water can also serve as a good reflector.
(39) Try taking photos in a sequence
When shooting pictures of children, you could try taking three or more photos in a sequence. This way, you will be able to capture their movements, which can become funny and interesting. After taking the photos, you can simply place them all in a film strip, which you can do with a good image or movie editing app. The pictures when presented well should tell a nice story about the kids.
(40) Pay attention to the background
Keep in mind that the subject of your photo should be the one that will capture the viewer’s attention. Therefore, you should be mindful of the background that does not become an undesirable distraction or steals the impact of your subject’s smile or poses. Thus, choose the background well, so that the focus will remain on the subject of your photo and nothing else.
(41) Do not delete photos while inside the camera.
While the pictures are still inside the camera, it is not wise to delete them yet, especially if you are unsure. This is because the LCD screen may not provide you with the right way to judge the shot since it is not large enough. Therefore, it is better to transfer the photos to your computer first, before selecting the ones that you want to delete.
(42) Do not let the rain stop you from taking pictures
Oftentimes, when it is raining, you can find yourself getting discouraged from taking pictures. However, there are actually many ways that you can go around it, and still take beautiful images. For example, taking a picture through a window that is covered with rain will provide you with a gloomy effect for a change. Moreover, if you have access to natural environments (woods, parks, forest, etc.) can provide you with the opportunity to produce incredible shots as well.
(43) Minimising reflections from glasses
When you shoot subjects that wear glasses, there is a possibility of glare and the final result will not look nice. To avoid this, you can make an investment to purchase a good polarizer, which will sort this problem out.
(44) Do not be too reliant on your DSLR
Having a DSLR will enable you to produce pictures of high quality. However, it is not a good reason to miss a great moment that is worth capturing, just because you were not able to bring it with you. If you feel that a moment that you should capture is about to unfold, you should click away with whatever you have available at hand, including your smartphone.
(45) Think carefully before pressing the shutter button
On certain occasions, it can be better to take a moment before taking your pictures right away and reflect carefully about the topic or the subject of your photos. This approach will allow you to develop innovative ideas, try different poses and angles, and explore your creativity.
(46) Do not focus too much on the megapixels alone
When you hear some people talking about their decision to purchase digital cameras, sometimes they say that the megapixels feature is one of the most important aspects to take into consideration. However, you should not focus excessive attention on this aspect alone because higher megapixels mean that the camera can produce larger pictures without loss in quality. Nonetheless, if you are not producing pictures for poster-sized prints, chances are that you will not need to purchase the camera with the highest megapixels.
(47) Attend a photography course
As a beginner photographer, you must find ways to learn more about the trade and, one of the best ways to achieve this goal is to attend a couple of photography courses, which will enable you to expand considerably not only your theoretical and practical knowledge but also to improve your technique.
(48) Explore shooting in Black & White
You should try something different from time to time, in such a way as to create interesting, creative and innovative shots. One possibility to achieve this goal is to explore the various possibilities afforded by Black & White pictures, where the interplay between light and shadow and how you manage both of them, for example, plays a very important role.
(49) Shoot the subject in their own environment
There are times when your subject becomes uncomfortable in being at your studio and this can, eventually, reflect in the quality of your pictures. Thus, sometimes is better best shooting your pictures in the subject’s own environment, rather than inviting them to your studio.
(50) Learn from others online
Learning more about photography can actually be easily achieved online since there is a huge amount of free content out there. So do not miss the opportunity to explore this type of resource which comprises not only articles, guides, tips and tricks but also video tutorials and step-by-step pieces of training.