Photography is more than pointing a camera in the direction of the subject and taking the photo. The same goes for smartphone photography. Your phone just becomes the camera, and some fulfill that role pretty well. In smartphone photography, we still use composition, focal point, foreground, background, slants, frames, thirds, lines, perspective, scale, and so forth to create an image that tells a story worth sharing. Good photographs aren’t captured, they’re created with a specific intent.
You can use your DSLR, compact, point-and-shoot, or even smartphone camera: It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you use. It’s not about technical skills as much as it is about developing an “eye” for photography and recognizing that perfect photo opportunity when it presents itself. These tips will help you do that.
Be clear on your intention
Good photographs aren’t captured, they’re created with a specific intent. A story the photographer wants to tell through the image. What will you be doing with the photograph(s) you’ll take? Don’t just shoot away, think. Will you be printing them to decorate your home or office? Use them on social media? If so, which platform? Your own website, whether for your photography or your business? Knowing where you’ll be using the picture will help you determine the best format, orientation, but most importantly composition: what story will you be telling through the image?
Hold your breath
When the lights come down at night what will your pictures look like? Some people are gifted and can take a picture straight from a camera and deliver a quality shot. It would be nice if we all could do this, but it is not a reality. If you can’t use a tripod, holding your breath for a few seconds while pressing the shutter will add some stability for nighttime shots. Especially on iPhone I find pressing the shutter always adds some motion back in, so using a bluetooth shutter remote (with your other hand) is a great alternative, or you could use a 3 second timer delay on the camera instead.
If I use any, I only apply minor edits to my fine art photography. When it comes to editing, think: “less is more, and none is better”. If an image needs more “work” I just delete it. If you fail to capture the moment right there and then, there’s no amount of editing that can truly turn that image into a work of art. Keep in mind anything you see on your screen is specific to that particular screen, and results may vary especially when you print the image. A good lab will color-correct the image for the art medium of your choice to ensure the best result every time.
Disable digital zoom
The example on the right shows that using digital zoom is a big no-no. If you look closely, you’ll see the plane isn’t clear and the clouds are grainy. Don’t use it. Turn it off on your camera, if you can. When you push your zoom beyond the optical zoom your camera is capable of, the quality of your image starts to deteriorate right away. What the camera effectively does when you use “digital zoom” is cut out a portion of the image and increase the size. The resulting image will have far less details as a (much) smaller portion of the optical system was used to capture the image. The result is never good. If you find yourself in a position where you “have” to use digital zoom, re-think your intention, move around a bit and see if a different composition could share the same story – without the need for the destructive power of digital zoom.
Don’t use flash
Ever seen a tourist try to take a picture outdoors and their flash went off? The camera may have tried to compensate for backlight conditions, but without a doubt the image didn’t turn out good. No matter what you do: don’t use flash. Turn it off and forget about it. Get used to slightly longer exposure times without flash especially if there’s less light available. Hold your breath if you need to add some stability. Turn on another light source in the room if available to create a more natural picture.
Get Into Action
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