Here are five points to challenge the way you go about taking photos. I’ll tell you what you’re doing wrong and how to change it.
1) YOU’RE BREATHING
Let’s be honest – we all have to breathe. We do it all the time without even noticing. It’s something we do unconsciously, mechanically, without thinking about it.
Now, think of when you’re pressing the shutter on your camera – you’re still breathing, right?
It’s time to stop that. Just for an instant of a second. You won’t die.
When we breathe we automatically move a bit (up and down), which might cause camera shake when pressing the shutter, and that’s why you might end up with a blurry picture.
- Next time you press the shutter try to hold your breath for an instant of a second. So you breathe in, press the shutter, breathe out. You take the photo at the top of your breath.
2) YOU'RE CHIMPING
‘Chimping’ is a common term used in photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on your screen after taking the picture.
It’s called ‘chimping’ because the noise a chimpanzee makes is thought to be similar to the noise photographers might make when looking at their photos on the LCD screen – “Oooh, Oooh, Aaah” – being pleased, or positively surprised by the results. Also, think of how your arms move when you take the camera down to look at the screen. Your arms will move away from your body, your elbows will go off to the sides. Just like a chimpanzee moving their arms up and down.
You might be thinking ‘what’s wrong with that? Isn’t that one of the good things about digital photography that we can instantly see the results?’
Yes it is – but at the same time this will make you less confident, as you rely on your LCD screen to see what the photo actually looks like.
- Instead of trusting in the screen to show you the outcome you should trust in your knowledge of what settings to use to achieve the results you want. This will also challenge you to learn and to get to know your camera and its settings better (see point 3).
- And another thing – probably an even more important point for me personally – is that you might be missing out on some great pictures while you’re staring at your screen. While you’re too focused on what you did just a second ago, the photo you’re looking for could have just been there. But you didn’t see it, and neither did you capture it, because you were too busy checking out your previous photo.
So keep your camera up there and shoot!
3) YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CAMERA
Like I just mentioned it is important for you to trust in your skills to know what outcome you’ll get. If you already know what you want to achieve you just need to figure out how to get it. This is where your camera comes in:
- know your camera (and know it well!). And know its settings. You have to be able to handle your camera without having to think about what you’re doing.
Play around with your camera and get to know its settings before you get out there to photograph. Once you’re out and about shooting you won’t have the time to play around with your camera. You have to be confident.
If you know your camera well you can control the outcome of your photos – which brings me to my next point…
4) YOU DON’T SHOOT IN MANUAL MODE
Change this. Shoot manually.
The big advantage of shooting manually is that you get to control everything. You control what your camera does - you know what it will give you.
- Being in control will most of the time result in better quality images.
For example you will end up with fewer blurry images because you know what setting to choose in order to get sharp pictures.
- Also, it will save you time, as you won’t have to take as many pictures of one and the same thing.
If you know what your camera is doing (because you told it to do so) you know what to expect as an end result. It will give you a feeling of security, which will consequently lead to less frustration.
5) YOU DON’T HAVE A GOAL
Not having a specific goal in mind can be very dangerous. You need to know what your goal is in order to know what you want to communicate.
What is it that you want to get across with your pictures? What is the point you’re making? What do you want your audience to see, think, or feel? What is the story you are trying to tell?
- In order to know what to communicate you need to have some background information on your subject. Which means you’ll probably need to do some research before going out to take the photos.
- Another important factor is not to forget to include some context in your photos so that the viewer will know what the story is about.
Each of these factors is really important when you go out to shoot and you want to come back with a memory card full of useful photos. Putting these tips into practice will leave you feeling satisfied with your results, and it will definitely be more fun editing something which is already good, rather than having to make something look good through editing.
Did you feel challenged by any of these points? What are your favourite tips to improve your photography skills?