I often have people ask me how they can improve they’re photography or if I have any tips for them. So today I thought I’d make a post on one very important tip that often gets overlooked.
It goes along with two other big photography tips:
- Invest in good equipment.
- Learn how to use it well.
- Cultivate a photographer’s eye.
There are plenty of blog posts and articles about the first two, but I haven’t seen many or perhaps any about the third, so I thought I’d address that point today. 🙂
Since each of these points depend in some way on the others, I do want to briefly go over the first two before going into more depth on the third.
1. Invest in good equipment. Notice I didn’t say “buy a DSLR.” I DO recommend buying a DSLR eventually if you’re serious about photography, but you can still take beautiful photos with lower-quality cameras by using the other two tips I mentioned.
You’re going to want to research for yourself, but, briefly, here are my recommendations: For the beginner who wants to get more into photography but isn’t ready for a DSLR, I highly recommend the Nikon Coolpix L840. I had an older model of this camera for years. For things like easy close-ups and stunning sunset photos, it even outperforms my DSLR!
If you’re more experienced with photography and want to invest in a more quality camera, I recommend the Nikon D3400, which is what I currently use. The annoying thing about DSLRs is that you pretty much have to purchase separate lenses if you want your photos to look DSLR-quality. You can take nice photos with the kit lenses (the lens that comes with your camera), but you’ll definitely want to upgrade before long. My favorite lenses are the 50mm and 35mm lenses. Check out Aria’s excellent post here for more information.
2. Learn how to use it well. There are heaps of resources for learning how to work DSLRs, which I highly recommend you check out. You’re not going to progress very far unless you really know how to use your camera, and yes, this means getting off automatic mode and using manual mode. It’s not as scary as you think! This holds true for the Nikon L840 as well. Look up articles, read the instruction manual, and just experiment with all the different settings to open up a whole new layer of mastery that will help you capture beauty well.
3. Cultivate a photographer’s eye. Now, for the final point, which is the main one of this post: cultivating a photographer’s eye. What do I mean by a photographer’s eye? I mean being able to see beauty and potential photography subjects all around you, even when it seems like there aren’t any good photo opportunities nearby. A good photographer is one who can capture any subject in its best light (both literally and figuratively).
Keep in mind that the previous two points are pretty indispensable here – even if you find something beautiful, you’re probably not going to capture it to your satisfaction if you have a terrible camera, or worse, if you don’t know how to use it well. On the flip side, you can have great equipment and know how to use it, but look out the window on a gray day and see no photography opportunities. There are ALWAYS photography opportunities, my friends! That’s what cultivating a photographer’s eye is about.
For instance, I was walking by this bush and noticed the little fallen branch in the sun.
The bush itself was not the most beautiful subject, but I love the colors and light in this close-up!
My point is… notice things. Pay attention both to the big picture and the tiny details. Many people will want to take a picture when they see beautiful scenery, even if they’re not photographers per se. And while a good photographer can capture an especially outstanding picture of something like that, you don’t need to work as hard to capture beauty when it’s staring you in the face.
On the other hand, if you think you live in a boring place with no beautiful scenery or photography opportunities, I feel you! Sometimes I see photos of breathtaking scenery or adorable kids or pets and inwardly pout because, “no fair, I don’t have those opportunities. How am I supposed to pictures like that when I just live on a farm and not at the top of a mountain range or beside a beach?”
But guys! Listen. I truly believe there is beauty all around you at this very moment. God has placed you where you are, when you are for a reason. If photography appeals to you, use it as a tool to share the beauty around you with others who will never be at that exact place at that exact time, with the exact lighting and the exact angle that you captured.
Open your eyes, dear, and really look! What can you see? Here are a few elements to be get you started noticing things with a photographer’s eye, along with quick editing tips on how best to highlight those elements.
Light & shadow
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of a photo, if not the most important. The way light falls, whether it’s cool or warm, and whether or not it provides any special effects like sun flares – all these aspects can completely change the mood of your photo.
Golden hour, of course, is a much-loved example of the way the type of light can make almost anything beautiful. Also be on the lookout for interesting light patterns and the way the color and tone of light transforms a subject. Try moving your camera around to get sun flares, backlit photos, or sparkly bokeh.
Editing tips: if you’re working with yellow-toned or golden hour light, increase the temperature and saturation of the photo to accentuate warmth. If you’re capturing the structure/pattern of light or the way it falls, try a calm, low-key filter, or black and white.
light & shadow photography
Sometimes the color of a subject (or lack of it) is enough to compose a good photo. Look for hues and shades that stand out from their surroundings, or go together well.
Editing tips: make colors pop by upping the contrast and saturation.
Even if the color or lighting is boring, you can often compose an interesting photo by looking at the texture of your subject, the structure of a building, or other patterns around you.
Editing tip: highlight texture with a black and white filter, high contrast, or sharpening.
And there you have a few of my photography tips! Of course there are SO many other things to look for and notice when cultivating a photographer’s eye, but hopefully those gave you something to start from. 🙂
What element are you most drawn to in photos? (Color, light, texture, etc.) What tips do YOU have for cultivating a photographer’s eye?
Thanks so much for reading, dears, and have a lovely day!