With so many options out there, it is hard to know where to begin when taking a photograph. Do I use an app on my phone? Do I focus on landscapes or portraits? Do I need more or less light? It is easy to constantly doubt yourself and worry about the little things. What’s more, with so many places and people at your fingertips, your subject possibilities are endless and it can be overwhelming.
Don’t fret. Here we’ve found gems of advice that will get you thinking. This should help you along the way and make you feel more confident when setting up for that great photograph you’re about to take.
“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.”
- Annie Leibovitz
“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”
- Eve Arnold
If portraits are your focus, remember to break that barrier between subject and photographer. This achieves intimacy and a truth that otherwise won’t be portrayed. Create a rapport with your subject so that both you and they feel comfortable, and the camera isn’t an obstacle.
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
- Elliott Erwitt
“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”
- Don McCullin
We live in such a fast paced world these days. We hear but we don’t listen. We see but we don’t look. Thinks flash by so fast, we don’t take time to contemplate. Step back for a second and actually look, instead of desperately snapping away. This should produce that desired photo you were waiting for.
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
“The best advice that I can give about taking a good picture is take lots; even the worst photographer can get lucky if they stack the odds!”
This may seem a little negative. Yet use this advice to push yourself harder. Just as with any skill, photography requires practice. Practice, practice, practice. Imagine the eyes like a pair of dancing feet. The more you practice and learn from trial and error, the sharper and cleaner your photos (or dancing steps) become. Don’t be downhearted when your first photos are mediocre. These things take time and the more you shoot, the more chance you’ll take a good one.
“Learn to see light.”
- Ryan Muirhead
“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”
- Alfred Stieglitz
You may be using a camera or phone with auto-settings that does all the work for you. However, to take a good photograph, it’s important to take note of the light in the scene and how to control it. Always be aware of the light and where it’s coming from. Is the source a lamp? A candle? The sun? Post-editing and filters can only do so much. Take this advice literally and see that light then take advantage of it.
“The more ridiculous you look while taking a photo, the better that photo will probably be. Photographers can’t be afraid to get into strange and awkward positions to get the shot they’re after.”
— Pei Ketron
“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”
- Ernst Haas
With so many photographers out there, you’ve got to go that extra step to create something unique and eye-catching. Break out of your comfort zone, take risks and do what you have to do to capture that moment. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.
“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
- Ansel Adams
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
- Robert Capa
This can be taken literally or figuratively. Let’s think about the former. Firstly, commit that bit more and travel further. Get up before dawn in order to climb that mountain for example. Standing at the top of that mountain when the sun comes up will guarantee a good photo. Secondly, think about composition and framing. Where you stand in relation to your subject can make or break a photo. Contemplate more unusual angles and don’t be afraid to take another step closer to get more involved in your surroundings.
“The personality of the photographer, his approach, is really more important than his technical genius.”
After all this practice and consideration, you should have found your photographic voice. Work out what you like taking photos of and how. Discovering a personal style is important as it comes through in your photographs. It won’t just be a good photograph but a photo that you clearly took.