There are moments in life that every human being wants to remember.
Your wedding, the birth of a child, a road trip or a family vacation are valuable memories all of us like to remember from time to time. It is a beautiful experience to walk down the memory lane and revisit all those places, people, and events that gave us joy and happiness.
Capturing these magic moments by yourself is even more rewarding because you have the satisfaction of knowing that it was you who froze the time and preserved the memory.
Most people think that taking a great photo is too hard and that they will never be able to do it. With this kind of attitude, you never will, you have to put the effort in to start being a good photographer. The first and the most important step to becoming a master of photography is…
You need to be intrigued by the world around you and willing to explore it.
Do not be discouraged by the lack of equipment.
You just need to choose a decent camera; it doesn’t have to be the most expensive one. You can take great images with any kind of a camera if you know how. It is essential that you are always looking for a great shot, regardless of where you are.
It can be a night out with your friends at the local pub, a dinner with the person you love or your dog doing one of those adorable things that make us all love them so much. Great photos are everywhere you just need to see them and capture them. It is also a good idea to study some high-quality photography books and magazines.
Using a camera isn’t so hard
In order to create a great photo, you need to know what your camera can and cannot do. People often try to use a camera in the wrong light conditions, which results in blurry images, or pictures that are too bright or too dark. This happens because they do not pay attention to the camera settings or the circumstances of the situation in which they are taking a photo.
There are three crucial parameters that you need to pay attention to. Aperture, Exposure, and ISO are the Holy Trinity of the photography world. By adjusting them you set the amount of light your camera can capture. It doesn’t matter whether you have a digital or an analog camera the same rules apply.
The only difference is that on an analog camera you have to adjust these settings manually while almost all digital and DSLR cameras allow you to chose between the auto and manual mode. So if you own a digital camera, it is best to start with one of the auto modes and slowly learn which modes are the best for which situations. After a while, you will come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t use the ‘no flash’ mode in a darkened room.
Another important part of every camera is the lens and mastering how to use different lenses is essential. There are three kinds of lenses: normal, wide-angle and telephoto. Phone and some digital cameras have built-in lenses that are perfect for capturing everyday situations, but they don’t have the features of a lens used on analog or digital cameras. The quality of the camera optics influences the quality of the image the camera produces. Different scenes demand different lenses.
If you would like to take pictures of your child’s first basketball game it is better to use a telephoto lens, because it would allow you stay further away from the action, hence you’ll be able to capture the motion better. A wide-angle lens is perfect for taking a photo of a romantic sunset because it can capture a broader piece of the landscape.
There are two main types of files most cameras of the new generation can produce, JPEG and RAW. They are the equivalents of a negative and a positive, on an analog camera. The reasons why you are taking photos determines which one to use. Don’t use the RAW format if you have no intention of printing your pictures, they will occupy too much space on your hard-drive.
Digital cameras have a menu that has features that allow you to set the size of the image or allow you to switch between color and black and white. Be curious, explore these modes in different situations and see what kind of results you get. The best way to figure out what you can do with your camera is to have fun with it and experiment with different settings.
The technical part of photography can seem scary at first, but just a little bit of curiosity is enough to learn the essentials and everyone can do it.
The light is your best friend
All images depend on light and making light your ally is essential when taking a photo. It is a slight difference between an image with beautiful colors and a dark one on which you can’t see anything. It takes time to become confident when handling difficult light conditions, so it is best to be patient and avoid low-light photos at first.
You need to be aware of where the light source is. The general rule is that your subjects should be facing the source of light and that the camera should be looking away from it. This rule can and should be used as often as possible because nothing can ruin your picture like a light bulb above your subject’s head.
There are two types of photos, the ones taken indoors and ones taken outdoors. Taking a photo during the day is the best time for it because you can find light in abundance. So-called Golden Hour (a period shortly after sunrise and before sunset) is the best period of the day for photography, because of the diffused light that is much softer than the sunlight during the day. Sunset photos are the best example of pictures taken during the Golden Hour, and they are great because of the diffused light that brought out beautiful colors.
Indoor photography is usually done in a studio environment where you can have the absolute control over light, however, most of us want to take photos in a room that doesn’t have enough light. If you find yourself in a situation like this, you have a few options. Using a built-in camera flashlight will get you the amount of light you need, but it will often cause ‘red-eyes effect’ and it will change the colors in the photo. If you own a good camera flashlight, that you can mount onto the camera, you can rotate it and avoid throwing too much light on your subjects.
In this manner, the images you create will appear more visually balanced, but you need to remember that you need a surface to bounce the light off. For example, if you are trying to take a photo of your friends in the street, but you are too far away from them, and there is no building or any other surface that can reflect the light from the flash back to your camera, your photo will be too dark, because the additional luminescence didn’t find its way back into the camera.
Working without a flash can be very creative since you need to locate the sources of light that are available to you and make a good use of them. You can use lamps, street lamps, the light from a mobile phone or a PC, the possibilities are countless. The most important thing is that your subject is well lit. Learning how to use the light will improve your photos significantly and the results can be visible in a short period of time.
Have fun with it
Once you discovered the full potential of your camera and you’ve understood the basic principles of light management it is time for you to find your first model. Working with people is never easy, no matter what you do, thus to be a good photographer you need to be a great judge of character.
The presence of a camera in a room changes everything, people will not be their usual selves because they are aware that you might photograph them at any moment. This is a problem and the best solution is to try to create a cheerful atmosphere.
Talk about amusing subjects, funny anecdotes or anything that will draw your subject’s attention away from the fact that you are about to take a picture of them. Make them laugh, and then try to take a photo of them laughing, because that is a moment when they are the most spontaneous.
You should try to avoid pictures in which your subjects are looking straight at the camera, unless you are doing a standard studio portrait, in that case, they should be looking directly into the lens. The trouble is that stiff poses seem unnatural and prearranged, thus the image you take doesn’t seem like a real situation. Regardless of the model, the first step is to make yourself and the camera a part of the situation, once your models are used to it, you are free to operate.
Keep in mind that you will get the most out of people if they are unaware that you just took a photo of them. They can be aware of the fact that you are going to take pictures of them, they just shouldn’t know the exact moment.
Practice makes everything perfect
Henri Cartier-Bresson, a famous photographer, once said that:
‘Your first 10.000 photographs are your worst.’
This shouldn’t discourage you because it means that you just need to get to that number. Like with everything else, at the beginning, your images will most likely have a lot of room for improvement. It is a great thing that should motivate you to continue learning and developing your skills.
If you find yourself feeling too comfortable with one kind of photography, try something new, that you have no experience with. The more you learn about photography, the better images you will create. It is important to always have a camera with you because you don’t know when you will see a perfect moment that would make for an amazing picture. This is the secret of every great photographer, they are always ready for the next shot. You can get there by just being persistent and disciplined.
Dedicate a certain amount of time to photography each week. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, a couple of hours that you spend with your camera. Through time photography will become your hobby and if you are really motivated it can become your profession. Each kind of photography is different; therefore, you need to find out which type is the closest to what you desire.
Portraiture can be a great choice if you would like to document how your kids grow and change over time or even if you like to take photos your adventures during the holidays. Photography is an art and you have to allow your creativity to guide you and tell you what kinds of images you want to take. If you allow yourself to do that, then you are on the right path to becoming a great photographer.
Regardless of which camera you are using, sooner or later you will find yourself staring at the huge number of photos. Organizing your photos is as important as taking them. This is a slow process and somewhat difficult because the images we like are often not the ones others like.
Never show all the images you’ve taken, select only a dozen or two dozens of pictures you want the world to see. Hearing the feedback will tell you which photographs inspired the best responses. Try to memorize those pictures and next time you are taking pictures strive to take a photo that is as good as the one that had most likes on your Instagram account.
Being persistent and having a positive attitude will lead you toward the photos that your friends and family will love and talk about for a long time. You mustn’t discourage yourself by thinking that you will never get there. You will if you really want to. You don’t need to become a professional photographer, just to learn a few basic rules of photography. If you are able to do that your child will be grateful for that amazing picture of him you took when he was just three years old.