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Simple Photography Tips | 5 Tips To Drastically Improve Your Photos

By Max Bridge on July 13th 2016

There are many things you can do to improve your photography. However, at times throughout your development, you will struggle as you reach plateaus, seemingly unable to progress to the next level. We all have times like that-it’s nothing to worry about-and these simple photography tips are not purely designed to rid you of those times, however, some will undoubtedly help. For amateurs or those of you just starting out, if you can implement each point here you will begin to see your photography drastically improve.

The Simplest Photography Tip Of All, Plan Ahead

I recently wrote an article which spoke about the benefits of good communication skills, and one of the points I made was that planning ahead, and involving your client, is a fantastic way to lessen nerves and to improve the quality of the photos in general.

[REWIND: THINK LIKE A CINEMATOGRAPHER & MAKE PORTRAIT SHOOTS A BREEZE]

Planning ahead encompasses many things and will differ for each genre of photography. That said it might include things like performing a recce, creating a mood board, holding meetings with clients, researching your subject, writing a shot list, creating a plan for your day, sourcing props, sketching out ideas, and so on.

Whatever is appropriate for your genre of photography, I encourage you to plan in advance as much as possible. Not only does it help to alleviate nerves but it can also boost creativity by giving you time to think. I do, however, recognize that it is not always possible, and that as the saying goes, “man plans, God laughs”. That said, it always helps to plan as much as possible.

Don’t Rush, Stay Calm, And Slow Down

I may have shown you an example of my wildlife photography but this simple photography tips applies to every genre. One of the biggest mistakes that I have made (and in fact still do) is to get flustered and rush. That may be because I see an incredible moment about to occur and don’t want to miss it, or because a shot hasn’t turned out too well and I get frustrated, or I have a particularly challenging client. Whatever the cause may be, rushing is only going to make things worse. Your photography WILL suffer.

If you’re not working with clients, then this simple tip is easy to implement. On the other hand, if you are with a client this becomes a little more problematic. If that is the case, then use one of my favorite methods (and tell me some of yours in the comments below): Either the “let’s take five method” or the “I need to adjust “x” method”. Photographing people can get quite intense and ‘taking 5’ is something that they may appreciate just as much as you. If you feel that won’t work then you can always adjust something with your gear that you don’t really need to do; change a battery usually being a good one. Give yourself the moment to take a breath, and re-group.

[REWIND: USE CLAMSHELL LIGHTING TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL, FLATTERING LIGHT]

An Essential Photography Tip: Hone Your Core Skills

This could easily have been split into multiple tips but, in the end, I decided to group it together as it all comes under the same umbrella of core photographic skills; lighting, composition, posing, editing, and others which may be relevant to your particular genre. If you’re a pro or soon to be pro, then a strong grasp of these concepts is essential. As an amateur, it can seem overwhelming as there is so much to cover, but my advice would be to pick one area to focus on and master that, then move to the next until all are complete. The important part here is not to randomly jump from one topic to another. Plot your course, focus, use your clear direction to map your learning and clear distraction.

[REWIND: CLAMSHELL LIGHTING PART II | BUILDING A PORTABLE HEADSHOT RIG]

simple-photography-tips-importance-of-finding-education

Education, Education, Education

Leading neatly on from my last simple photography tip, this one revolves, as you may have guessed, around education. Finding good education is one of the most important things you can do for your development, and there always comes a point when you need to explore your own creativity and decent education will provide strong foundation to do so.

Here at SLR Lounge we have our Premium Service (click here to take a look) as well as all the free tutorials you see on a daily basis. I think what Premium provides is truly amazing but if you’re not ready to take that leap then exhaust all of the free education you can find, both here and elsewhere.

I’ve written lots of posts in the past about my favorite online educators so rather than repeat myself here; I’d encourage you to check out these two articles below. They refer to specific courses which may not be suitable for you but the educators and companies referenced produce libraries of solid content, in which I’m sure you’ll find something worthwhile.

[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES: 5 ESSENTIAL COURSES FOR EVERY BEGINNER]

[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES: 5 ESSENTIAL COURSES FOR PROFESSIONALS]

Implement This Simple Formula

My final simple photography tip relates closely to the last two, and sort of shows how much I value education! The tip is to continually run through this simple process / formula:  get education > practice > repeat. If you ever find yourself stalling as a pro, find a course which inspires you, something out-of-the-ordinary perhaps, and add a new skill to your repertoire. Plan ahead and think of new ways to utilize that skill, visualize a shot, and make it happen.

This tip is not only for moments that you find yourself or your creativity stalling but something which I feel we should always do. Granted, there are periods when you are so busy that devoting even a moment to education seems impossible, but, where possible, try to factor in a couple hours of education into your weekly timetable. Your photography and maybe even your business will thank you for it. If you have a course set to go through, take advantage of it when waiting in line at the post office, or perhaps on a commute to work (when you’re not driving), and you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in.

Summary

It’s tough to advance your photography; I spent years at a very similar level, moving forward at a very slow pace. I’m sure it’s something that many of you experience and please try not to let the slow progression dishearten you. Your progress as a photographer will plateau from time to time, but there will also be times when you are propelled forward. What we want to do is encourage more of those times and and less stagnation by implementing the tips herein.

There are loads more articles in my Simple Photography Tips series, check them out by clicking here.

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About

Max began his career within the film industry. He’s worked on everything from a banned horror film to multi-million-pound commercials crewed by top industry professionals. After suffering a back injury, Max left the film industry and is now using his knowledge to pursue a career within photography.

Website: SquareMountain 
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2 Comments

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    Great advice. Definitely plan ahead! Five years and a few weeks ago, I was planning to check off and photograph the only item on my bucket list, which was 30 years old. To experience and photograph the final Space Shuttle launch. I did research on Space Shuttle launch photography, but they were geared towards the use of DSLRs.
    The newspaper with an online presence, Florida Today, was my “go to” for what’s happening at Kennedy Space Center. I contacted them, provided a list of my gear: Canon A-1, 80-205 f4.5, 400mm f6.3, and tripod. Their launch photographer replied back and suggested since it was a day launch to use ISO 100 film and underexpose by 1/3 stop. He also suggested mounting the camera backward on the tripod where the tilt lever is under the lens so that it doesn’t impede the tilt of the upward motion.
    I decided to underexpose by 2/3 stop. But I will always remember when I need upward tilt to mount the camera “backwards”. Finding ISO 100 film in my metro area turned out to be a scavenger hunt, but I found two rolls of Kodak Ektar 100.

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  2. Paul Wynn

    Thanks Max for posting. I agree totally about planning to succeed, that goes for what ever you do in life. The overriding message you are giving is education & training, which again I totally support. Attending practical workshops and training courses have helped me greatly, they have proven to be a fantastic source of inspiration. I would always encourage other photographers to do the same.

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