My Secret Tips and Tricks of Photography for 2024
My Top 4 Photography Tips
There are a few secret photography tips and tricks that I share with clients on my Photography Workshops about how to not only take better photographs but to take the ones you want. Today I am going to share a few of them with you and they might actually surprise you… I am just sorry I didn’t personally know these sooner. Oh and the other things I wished I knew sooner were these Top 5 Camera Accessories all for under €30.-
I am going to look at this from a slightly different perspective here… We are going to throw all the composition rules out the window for a minute, why? Well, because rules are for everyone else, they are not for you, because let’s face it you are unique and the way you see the world is completely different to me. The key trick here is not to complicate composition too much. I always say give a camera to a child and their imagination will blow you away, they see beauty everywhere. This is something we need to work and develop it again in our mindset and help to unleash that inner child. I believe modern life, stress, education and of course work have all combined to kill off this creativity and imagination. The one way to get this back is to work at it and really look at each photograph and give it the respect it deserves, give it time, slow down and connect with what you see in front of you. For your photography to have a heart or soul in it, then, I firmly believe you need to put a bit of you into it and you can only do that by slowing down and really connecting with it, otherwise you are just taking snapshots and they will only ever be that. Remember this is your story and you are the one telling it. The most important thing to learn here is to have respect for not only the photograph but the moment and how you need to do everything you possibly can to not only capture it, but emphasise it.
Ok time to bring the rule book back a little
How do we compose our images then without guidelines…. This for me has to be the greatest lesson I ever learned in photography and your new rules now are to watch, listen, look, experiment and finally think it all through before you press the shutter button.
Ok, that might seem a little crazy but what’s your end result like when you try this?
For a bit more structure to your shots you could of course use the Rule of Thirds, if you haven’t heard of this before or want to brush up a bit on it then please feel free to read my Photography Rule of Thirds article.
Do the shots look terrible? Or only just about ok? Or are they awesome?
If they look terrible that’s great news, yes you got that right terrible is good news because you can probably list off all the reasons why it’s so bad straight away. That’s fantastic because you have just learnt a very hard lesson. The next time you go out taking photographs that will still be fresh in your head and you probably wont make the same mistakes again. This means your photography has already jumped forward considerably. If that shot was just a snap shot you wouldn’t have learnt anything and just deleted it immediately. So you see this does work, it’s not going to happen overnight but you will improve steadily, I promise you.
Only just about OK results… That’s not too bad and again you can probably tell me what’s wrong with them immediately, so again you will have learnt not to do that again next time out. This is no wonder cure and nothing will make you a great photographer overnight.
Awesome results… Then well done you, class is dismissed you can go enjoy your photography and never look back again. BTW if this did really work for you please let me know.
I always believe that Composition can’t really be taught because you are putting your own ideas on someone elses vision and how could that ever work? You can guide someone though and help them to discover their own style and encourage them down that path. It can be a long and windy road but I firmly believe if you just stop taking all those hundreds of photographs it will make it alot easier.
Slow down and just listen to yourself, think about what you want to capture and forget all that leading lines and rules of thirds stuff, yes, they work but you need to get your personal base right first before you start adding structure and rules to it.
Phew… If you are still reading at this point well done to you as I am sure most people would have muttered “this fella is mad” and left after the first paragraph.
I didn’t even mention as of yet that you should be shooting Raw also if possible and if you are unsured what the differences are between Jpeg vs Raw then click here.
Looking for light.
Lighting is often times the only real difference between a good photograph and a truly great one. Well, that and the person pressing the shutter button of course, which bring us to your ability to read light and this is truly vital and what will set you apart as a really good photographer.
I don’t mean looking at the scene before you and understanding the lighting, yes, this is important also but I feel what’s more important is not where the light is now but where it’s going to be. This can totally transform your scene in just minutes.
Moving clouds, sun rays, shadow detail, lack of shadow detail, highlights and of course colour tones varying around the Golden Hour times especially can all create photographic magic.
Remember a photograph is just painting with light, sometimes mother nature pulls out the most glorious colour tones at just the right times and a masterpiece unfolds in front of you.
The worst possible thing to happen here is you have your camera packed away or you are not set up at the time, for me this is why looking for light is so important, it’s not about being in the right place at the right time, it’s about being there before the right time so you can settle in and get that jaw dropping shot.
It’s always going to be better to get one amazing photograph then 100 mediocre ones isn’t it?
Watch the light see how it moves learn to play with it and develop your skills that way you will always be ready.
Shooting in Manual Mode is going to really herlp you lock in those settings also.
Steal a photograph
I am a firm believer in robbing photographs but not from fellow photographers, from mother nature. All too often at a beautiful sunset you see all the photographers lining up for that killer shot and staying in the one spot, well not me, I generally have a list of shots in my head (that is ever adapting) of what I want to capture.
Ok, that stunning sunset is on the list but I am also lining up several other shots while the light is right.
The thief part comes in here and again it’s about your attitude. For me I stand there like I want to rob the place constantly looking in every direction up and down and all around watching the lights interaction as I have often found the best shots can be right behind you.
That was short and sweet wasn’t it?
That’s very unlike my Seapscape photography tips which is a very detailed post 🙂
The Boring part….
Ok, this is the part that everyone hates and again this is super simple to do.
You need to know your equipment inside out and the only way you can do this is by playing with your camera regularly and no I am not talking about going out taking photographs. I am talking about sitting down at the kitchen table and getting used to the button layout and getting very familiar with changing settings.
Like for example, can you randomly change your ISO on your camera without looking at the buttons? I don’t mean changing your ISO in 3 or 4 seconds, I mean being able to do it in less than two seconds at least?
How fast are you at changing your aperture or shutterspeed? These are the things that are not only super boring but super important to your photography. What this does is it builds your confidence and with this confidence you start to feel more assured about your photography and it takes that feeling of being a fumbling fool off your shoulders.
Getting a bit of confidence in yourself and by confidence I mean more belief in you and that you can do it and not that arrogant out loud confidence that most photographers have. I mean the quiet confidence that you know you can do this and you can capture what you want.
Some of the most amazing photographers I have ever met and shot with are very humble, you would walk past them on the street and not think twice about them but they are incredibly assured of their abilities. They are flashy or pushy they are simply fellow photographers with nothing to prove only how much they love their craft.
Finally, I just want to add that Photography is this sublime mix of creativity and technical skill and without both of these elements your images will fail for one reason or another. If you really want to push your creativity then check out my Long Exposure Photography tips here.
Stick with it though, I always say if I can do it you can too.
See you out there,