6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is finally here – sunshine – the time of year most synonymous with new beginnings, transition and growth all thanks to the powerful rays of the sun. After months of dark dreary weather and perhaps a mood that matches staying indoors, we are finally ready to shed those winter blues and head outside with our gear. So in the spirit of getting you out of the house and into the outdoors, here are a few tips to help you do summer photography and revel in all its glory!

6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography - purple flowers

#1 No more excuses period!

Shake off that hibernation mentality and get yourself out the door. Often times, some of the first signs of spring can be spotted right outside your front door so you maybe don’t need to go far. Or better yet, take a walk around your neighborhood and start noticing the transition as spring works its way into summer.

It is amazing how leaves, color, and budding florals can make an old place feel like new again.

white flowers - 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

#2 Seasons and change can be a good thing

I know the whole time change thing that happens here in the US is debatable to many. But personally, I wait for spring forward. Yes, I lose an extra hour of sleep but it also means that the days start getting longer and that magical golden light at the end of the day is more within my reach.

With each and every day that passes, we are given more daylight, which provides greater opportunity to grab that camera and capture the golden hues. So head to a nearby park or even an open prairie and take in the whole scene. Use your wide angle lens to capture the big picture in your summer photography.

Karthika Gupta Photography - Memorable Jaunts DPS Article 6 ways to photograph spring-7 Karthika Gupta Photography - Memorable Jaunts DPS Article 6 ways to photograph spring-3

 

patio - 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

#3 Embrace pattern play

As you’re taking in your surroundings, notice unique patterns and textures that are created by plants, water, and trees. Summer has this amazing ability to make everything colorful, so go ahead and use all that color to add a little punch to your photos.

Color, patterns, and textures add so much more interest in photos so use that to your advantage.

plants on shelves - 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

flower in the garden - 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

#4 The light and shadow dance

Mother nature really is a wonder. As winter changed into spring, the whole world seems to get lighter and transition into a new phase. You can almost sense that change in the air again.

The quality of light also changes and with that the play of light and shadows is quite spectacular.  Use this time as an opportunity to experiment with light and shadows and use these elements to create drama and interest using different subjects.

peony - 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography

#5 Capture those blooms

When the flowers and trees start blooming all around us it really feels like a breath of fresh air. Capture those blooms and see how vibrant they make everything else appear. Look for a neutral background like white siding or pastel walls to bring highlight to the florals.

Karthika Gupta Photography - Memorable Jaunts DPS Article-8

#6 Work around the weather

Rain showers and sunshine seem to go hand-in-hand with summer. I suggest you embrace all of Mother Nature’s tantrums and photograph around it. Use that rain cover to step out into the rain to photograph the scene. If you don’t have a rain cover for your gear, maybe stay indoors and photograph the outside from your window. Or even get in the car, go for a drive and photograph from the comfort of your car!

Notice how rain changes the light completely and embrace that softness for a very different look to a normally sunny scene.

I hope these tips help get you in the mood to pick up that camera more often and get back into the swing of photography if you have been suffering from the winter blues.

The post 6 Quick Tips for Doing Summer Photography appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Choosing Between RAW Versus JPEG File Format

Perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions in digital photography is around which file type to use when shooting – JPEG or RAW file format. Don’t worry if you don’t know much about these two formats or whether your camera supports them. My goal, by the end of this article, is to help you understand what these two types are and help you pick the one that is right for you.

sunset image - RAW Versus JPEG File Format

RAW Versus JPEG File Format

At the very basic level, both JPEG and RAW are types of files that the camera produces as its output. Most of the newer cameras today have both these options along with a few others like M-RAW, S-RAW, Large format JPEG, Small format JPEG, etc. – all of which determines the size of the final output file.

The easiest way to see which file formats are supported by your camera is to review your camera user manual – look for a section on file formats. Or you can go through the menu options of your camera and select Quality (for Nikon) or Image Quality (Canon) to select the file format.

Each file format has its advantages and disadvantages so choose the right option that works best for you. JPEGs are, in reality, RAW files that are processed in camera and compressed into that format. Some of the decisions the camera makes in processing the image may be difficult to change later, but the JPEG file sizes tend to be much smaller. 

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both these file formats in greater detail.

Advantages of shooting RAW files

  • It is easier to correct exposure mistakes with RAW files than with JPEGs and overexposed highlights can sometimes be rescued. For people like me who tend to always photograph at least 1/2 stop to 1 stop overexposed (based on my style of photography), this is really beneficial in saving many great images in post-production.
  • The higher dynamic range means better ability to preserve both highlights and shadow details in a high contrast scene when the image is being recorded.
  • White Balance corrections are easier to make.
  • Decisions about sharpening, contrast, and saturation can be deferred until the image is processed on the computer.
  • All the original image data is preserved. In fact, when RAW files are opened in post-production software like Lightroom, a virtual copy is made and used. Edits are made in a non-destructive format so the original RAW file is always available for changes at a later stage. This is very useful when you want to edit images in different ways at different times in your photographic career.
RAW Versus JPEG File Format - before and after with a raw file

Left is the RAW file straight out of the camera. On the right is the finished edited image from the same file.

The image on the left (above) was completely blown out because I was in the car and did not have any of my settings correct. But because I photographed in RAW I was able to salvage so much detail in the image. This would not have been possible with a JPG file.

RAW Versus JPEG File Format - underexposed image

An image that was not properly exposed but photographed in RAW.

RAW Versus JPEG File Format - corrected version of the dark file

The edited image that was corrected in post-processing for exposure issues.

Disadvantages of RAW files

  • RAW files tend to be much larger in size compared to JPEGs thereby requiring more storage, not just in camera but also on external storage devices or your computer hard drives.
  • RAW images take longer to write to your memory card which means shorter bursts of continuous shooting. For example, my Canon 5D MIII can write about 12 RAW files continuously and about 30+ JPEG files in the continuous (burst) shooting mode. Check your camera manual for specifics around your own camera’s burst mode (a.k.a continuous photography mode).
  • Not all programs can read RAW files. This used to be an issue, but now there are lots of great programs that can work directly with Raw files such as Adobe Lightroom, Canon’s Camera RAW, Luminar, On1 Raw, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate, and other such programs.

Advantages of shooting JPEGs

  • JPEG files are much smaller in size compared to RAW files and hence need less storage space – both in camera memory and on your computer hard drives.
  • JPEG images write to disk more quickly which means longer bursts of continuous shooting opportunities especially during wildlife photography, fast action sports, or even dealing with little kids that are always on the move.
  • These JPEG files can be instantly viewed with many programs including common web browsers, powerpoint, and other such common applications.

Disadvantages of JPEG files

  • It is harder to fix exposure mistakes in post-production with JPEG files.
  • JPEG files tend to have a smaller dynamic range of information that is stored and this often means less ability to preserve both highlights and shadow details in the image.
  • White Balance corrections are more difficult with JPEG files.
  • Decisions about sharpness, contrast, and saturation are set in the camera itself and in most cases, these are difficult to change later in post-production without destroying the image quality.
  • Since a JPEG image is essentially a RAW image compressed in-camera, the camera’s computer makes decisions on what data to retain and which to toss out when compressing the file.
RAW Versus JPEG File Format - jpg edited file

The same image when edited as a JPEG for exposure issues becomes a lot grainier than an underexposed RAW image. You cannot pull them as far as a RAW file.

Another old-school way to think about these two file types is as slides and negatives. JPEGs are like slides or transparencies and RAW files are like negatives. With JPEGs, most of the decisions about how the image will look are made before the shutter is pressed and there are fewer options for changes later. But RAW files almost always require further processing and adjustments – just like negatives.

Which format to choose?

Now that you understand the difference between RAW and JPEG images, deciding which one to use is dependent on a few different factors.

  • Do you want to spend time in post-processing your images to your taste and photography style?
  • Are there any issues with limited space on your camera’s memory card and/or computer hard drives?
  • Do you have software and/or editing programs that will read RAW files easily?
  • Do you intend to print your images or even share images online in a professional capacity?

Some photographers are intimidated by RAW images. I was as well when I had just gotten started in photography because I did not know the true power of a RAW image. However, once I started photographing in RAW there was no going back.

Even everyday snapshots are shot in RAW now because of the great flexibility I have in correcting any mistakes that I make. One of the most common mistakes that many photographers make is around image exposure and that is relatively easy to fix with RAW files. 

RAW Versus JPEG File Format - overexposed sun or sky

I accidentally overexposed the setting sun and lost some of that golden warmth hitting the tree.

Karthika Gupta Photography - Memorable Jaunts DPS Article-Raw verses JPEG file formats -07

One of my favorite San Francisco cityscapes at sunset. I accidentally overexposed and lost the sun flare but was able to edit it and bring back that sunset warmth in post-production because it is a RAW file.

It’s getting easier to use RAW files

Traditionally the two main issues with RAW files seem to be fading every day:

  1. The cost of memory to store or backup these RAW files is getting cheaper and cheaper by the day.
  2. Software that can read RAW files is more readily available. In fact, there is even inexpensive and free software that can read these RAW files now.

There is still the issue of write speed for your camera. If you focus on fast-moving subjects like wildlife or sports photography then perhaps write speed is a key factor in deciding whether to photograph in RAW versus JPEG. So for fast moving objects and/or wildlife and birding photos, JPEG may be a better choice.

Another thing to note is that most of the newer cameras have the ability to capture both JPEG and RAW images at the same time. But this takes up even more storage space and might not be the best use of memory. You are better off just picking one option and sticking with that.

RAW Versus JPEG File Format - photo of a stream and moving water

Waterfall images using a slow shutter speed tend to blow out the background but editing a RAW image in Lightroom helps bring back some of the highlights.

Conclusion

I hope this was helpful in not only understanding the differences between RAW versus JPEG file formats but also in helping you decide which one to choose and why. So tell me, do you belong to the RAW or the JPEG camp?!

The post Tips for Choosing Between RAW Versus JPEG File Format appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use Spot Coloring in Your Photos

What is spot color in an image?

Some people refer to it as selective coloring. However, these two techniques are not the same thing.

Traditionally, selective coloring is something that is done in post-production. Photographers would highlight a certain area of the image, or a certain object, and leave it as the only thing that has colored in the frame.

They would turn the rest of the image into monochrome, or on occasion increasing the color saturation of that object while lowering it in the rest of the photograph. This is to call attention or focus to that particular part of the image.

Spot coloring in photography - dried roses against a white backdrop

Do you remember the days of black and white prom dresses with red corsages? Or, do you remember a black and white image of a model with red lips? Those are classic examples of selective coloring.

Difference between spot coloring versus selective

Spot coloring uses the available colors in a scene and then composes the image so that one color stands out from the rest of the frame. Spot coloring is a technique that is used in-camera (done by the photographer). It works by placing a color against other colors that allow it to stand out in the composition.

Selective coloring is a technique where one color is prominent in the final shot whereas all the other colors have either been changed to monochrome or had their color saturation levels lowered during post-production.

Spot coloring in photography - purple flower against green trees

The key with spot coloring in camera is to look for naturally occurring examples of color pops as opposed to making changes in post-production to highlight a particular color. This purple flower pops against the green of the leaves.

Before we move forward on this subject, I have to say that I am not downplaying or downgrading selective coloring versus the spot color technique. If there is one thing that this photography journey has taught me, it is that there is a market for every style of photography.

Each style of photography has its fans and its critics – that’s just the way the industry works. You just have to decide which camp you want to be in and run with that. I use spot coloring as I compose my shots in-camera. Unfortunately, rarely do I see a good use of selective coloring in post-production.

Spot coloring in photography - woman in red sari against yellow brick house porch - 2

My lovely client, in her red sari, stood out against this historic yellow brick building. This is a perfect example of spot color. By placing the bright red clothing against the reduced color tone and vibrancy of the building, the eye is directed right toward the subject.

I don’t know about you, but being in front of the computer for an extended period of time editing my images is not the most productive use of my time. If I can get the shot as close to how I envision it to be in-camera, then post-production is just about adding the finishing touches so it becomes relatively easy.

Here is a link to another recent dPS article about tips for quick editing. For me, spot coloring is a way to achieve an effect that fits my brand, my aesthetics, and my style of photography. Also, note that a spot color in your frame doesn’t have to be bright and vibrant. Sometimes, color contrast or a change in color hue is enough to move the eyes to the subject.

Advantages of Spot Coloring In-Camera

Spot coloring in photography - two hands holding gelato cones in pleasing colors in Rome

Colorful Italian gelato against the brick façade gives the right amount of soft color pop in this “subtle” use of spot color.

Spot coloring in-camera, if done correctly, can help you in the following ways:

#1 – It provides a clear definition of your subject.

By isolating your subject by way of color, you give a clear definition of the subject and help it stand out in an otherwise busy/crowded frame.

#2 – It helps you understand the relationship between colors.

Some colors work together, and others just don’t. Understanding the relationship between complementary colors and opposing colors can go a long way to creating images that are aesthetically pleasing and on point for your brand and your portfolio.

When practicing your spot color technique, keep a copy of the color wheel with you when you are creating images or studying the images of others to see how colors work together or against each other. You can print a color wheel off of the internet or find one in your local art supply store.

Ryb-colorwheel

By No machine-readable author provided. Bwilliam assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5 ], via Wikimedia Commons

#3 – Spot color makes images more impactful, images that have strong clear subjects.

These are more impactful when compared to images that are busy and cluttered and don’t give the viewer a sense of what is happening in the frame.

#4 – It slows you down to observe first and then click later.

When you observe a scene intentionally for the play of colors, patterns, and textures, you automatically slow down and learn to see first and then click the camera. Often, we are so focused on just clicking and getting something captured as opposed to photographing the right subject the right way.

If nothing else, this process will help you get away from the “spray and pray” mentality (photograph multiple frames at once and hope one of them works). Trying to use spot color can help you to slow down and analyze your scene. Ultimately, this will help you develop as a photographer instead of relying on the “spray and pray” technique.

Creative spot coloring can be done for any genre of photography: portraits, travel, and still life. Of course, some are easier than others, but this look is achievable in all these areas.

Spot Coloring in People Photography and Portraits

Spot coloring in photography - family portraits in red colored clothes against the snow

By choosing a pallet that complements the background, I was able to bring focus to my clients instead of having them blend into the frame. Here the red clothing worked really well against the white of the snow. This example is a bright, vibrant use of spot color. Note that they are not all wearing the same colors – but they do all have some common elements of the red which collectively looks well matched.

When you are photographing people (e.g. families and kids), a simple tool like a style guide can go a long way. I proactively send a style guide, or what-to-wear for your portrait tips list, to my clients where I suggest clothing options and colors – basically, pieces that I know will photograph well according to the season and location.

For example, if we will be shooting outside in a park or out in nature, I will suggest colors and outfits that will not compete with all the greenery. During the fall season when we have gorgeous colors in the trees, I will suggest colors that go well with the oranges, browns, and reds that Mother Nature shares with us. This way, when I am composing my shots and directing my clients, I will use poses that will ensure the photos are aesthetically pleasing and that do not have too many competing colors in the frame.

This is a “professional use” of spot color. I am going to coordinate the colors so that my client stands out from the background while looking pleasing at the same time.

Now, before you accuse me of manipulating the client experience, I have to point out that in all my eight years of being a family photographer, I have yet to come across a client who does not appreciate the what-to-wear tips that I send them when they book my photography services.

Most people are extremely uncomfortable being in front of the camera and get stressed out on what to wear and how to dress. Anything that can help alleviate that pain is going to be a welcome and much-appreciated thing. They have no idea that it’s actually a technical and aesthetic consideration on my part. It makes my job easier!

Spot Coloring in Travel Photography

Spot coloring in photography - roman vatican guard in costume standing guard

This colorful costume of the guards in the Vatican, Rome really stands out against the pastel colors of the building facade and the iron gate.

One of the key considerations to creating compelling travel images is to be aware of what is going on around you. Location is just as important as light. When you get to a scene, take a quick look around and do a quick mental assessment of everything that is happening around you. Colors, textures, light, and the subject all play a very important role in the final outcome of the image.

Think about how spot color could work for your shot. If you are in a location that has generally muted tones and colors, look for a subject that is a contrasting color to the rest of the scene. If framed correctly, that subject will carry the entire weight of the image, and the other colors will work in harmonizing the overall image around that subject.

On the other hand, if you were to choose a subject more or less similar in tones and colors to the background, the subject will likely blend in and the entire image may lack that oomph that you were hoping for. If you are in a busy, colorful location with lots of activity, try to isolate your subjects against a monotone background, thereby giving the subject a chance to stand out from the commotion.

Spot Coloring in Still Life Photography

Spot coloring in photography - still life flat lay with ruby red grape fruit and grapes

I love photographing food because that means I get to munch on it after as opposed to snacking on junk food! Plus, there is no better learning tool for the spot color technique!

This is one of the easiest genres of photography where you can practice spot color easily. Why? You have complete control over all of the color elements.

Remember when I said spot color is an exercise in understanding the color pallet? When you are planning your still life imagery, you can choose the colors (from opposite ends of the color wheel) to add that element of color pop to your images. You will also learn how effectively different colors work together to create a composition.

Spot color can be used with any genre of photography. However, the still life genre is a particularly useful learning experience because you have plenty of time and you control all of the colors that will be introduced into the picture!

Summing Up

I hope these examples help you to understand that just like many other techniques, spot coloring is a way to add creativity and fun to your images. Do you use spot color in your images? Share in the comments below.

The post How to Use Spot Coloring in Your Photos appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Tips for Photographing Street Markets

There are very few places in the world that provide the kind of visual stimulation, human interactions, and heightened sensory excitement like as street markets. No matter the size or what the market is about, there is bound to be some interesting things to photograph and experience.

I love going to street markets and farmers markets for several reasons – it seems to be the place where most locals hang out, food and shopping are quite fun and unique and it is a great place to taste local foods.

Tips for photographing street markets

Here are some tips to make the most out of photographing street markets or farmers markets.

#1 Redefine interesting

Gorgeous flowers and yummy fruit are always interesting subjects to photograph but if these are not available, don’t walk away. People interactions, fishmongers and other nicknacks are just as interesting.

Tips for photographing street markets - mushrooms

#2 Include human elements

I’ve encountered some really interesting people every time I have visited a street market – artists, artisans, creatives, as well as small-time bakers. It always helps to be friendly and ask permission before snapping a photo. Most people are really nice and willing but be respectful and ask first. And respect a “No” when you hear it and move on.

Tips for photographing street markets - shop stall

#3 Variety in your shots

Add variety to your photos to give them a sense of place, people, and activity. Remember wide angle photos can help you set the scene, but you might miss some details.

Zooming in on your subjects will give a chance to focus on the details – color, shape, and texture. To effectively tell a story make sure you have a good variety of both in your photo portfolio.

Tips for photographing street markets - street market in India

Tips for photographing street markets - fruit in cups for sale

#4 Explore and plan

Just like any photo excursion or trip, take the time to research and explore the areas prior to visiting them. Look at guidebooks, online forums or even ask your friends or people on the street – chances are that markets which the locals frequent aren’t going to be that obvious.

The best resource might actually be the people on the street. If the market is really huge, do some preliminary research to find the most interesting stalls and map out your route so you can make the most of your time there.

Tips for photographing street markets - man selling noodles

#5 Master your tools

Notice that I did not say, “master your craft”. Instead, I said, “master your tools”. In a fast paced environment like a street market, something interesting is constantly happening. Now is not the time to muddle with your camera, adjusting settings and experimenting.

Learn where all the buttons and knobs are and how to use them for what you want to create. Markets can present real challenges with lighting. You might be shooting outdoors, indoors or both within a span of a few minutes.

Tips for photographing street markets - man painting

#6 Buy something

A small purchase goes a long way toward making friends with vendors. Buy something first if possible. Establish rapport and then ask permission to take a picture. You will find your subjects more relaxed and they will to pose for you rather than doing it with an attitude of entitlement.

Tips for photographing street markets - market vendors

#7 Choose the right gear

Considering that most street markets are out on the street and typically span a few blocks, chances are that you will be walking around a fair bit. So you don’t want to be carrying around a ton of gear because it is slowly going to get heavy and cumbersome.

Additionally, if you end up buying things, you will add more to the weight factor. Personally, I prefer using a zoom lens in situations like this. Or a couple of standard prime lens like the versatile 50mm or the wide 35mm. There might not be too much opportunity to switch lenses on the fly so be deliberate with what you bring along.

Tips for photographing street markets

#8 Gear settings

When arriving at a market, one of the first things you’ll notice is that they’re usually covered or indoors. This means that you will likely be photographing in low light situations. Don’t be afraid to increase your ISO here. Photographing street markets often times is best done from a documentary approach so a little grain/noise in terms of high ISO is not going to be the end of the world.

Another thing to keep in mind is lighting. Chances are you are going to be dealing with a variety of lighting situations – sunlight, tungsten, and low light. Perhaps to make life a little easier, switch to Auto White Balance mode on your camera. That way you have one less thing to worry about and can always adjust the White Balance in post-production.

NOTE: You can also try Auto ISO. Read more about that here

Tips for photographing street markets - fruit stalls

#9 Composition

Try to photograph either wide-angle or close-ups. The reason behind this is because you want your images to look intentional and without many distractions.

Also try and get shots from different angles – high up, low down or even photographing from the hip. Changing your perspective is an easy way to really create variety in your pictures.

Tips for photographing street markets - carts

Tips for photographing street markets

#10 Be aware of your surroundings and stay safe

Street markets tend to be crowded places. A photographer with some expensive gear and a fancy backpack stands out like a sore thumb. Make sure to keep an eye on your gear at all times. Keep valuables close to your person. Wallets, smartphones, etc., should be securely packed away and not at all conspicuous.

I hope these ten tips for photographing street markets were helpful for you. If you have other tips that have worked really well for you, do share with us in the comments section below.

The post 10 Tips for Photographing Street Markets appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field

In today’s world of fast and super fast consumption of everything, perhaps photography and photographers are an anomaly in that we obsess over editing and over-editing our photos until the cows come home (figuratively speaking of course)! But there are some situations where quick photo editing and speed are our friends.

For example, say you are traveling on an adventure of a lifetime but still want to keep your followers and/or your community engaged and up to date on all your adventures by way of images. Or if you have just come back from a client photoshoot and want to send some sneak peek images so that your clients get excited about what is to come in the next few weeks.

Albert Hall Jaipur India at Sunset with pigeons - Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field

A quick edit of an image as I was traveling around India for 10 days.

In situations like these, having a process to edit your photos quickly yet efficiently and on-point with your photographic aesthetics is key. Luckily there are a few elements that can be adjusted to achieve a clean edited look. These sliders are universal in that they are available with almost any editing software available be it Lightroom (as seen below), Photoshop, or even smartphone editing software like Snapseed and VSCO.

Follow along with this video

In the following video, I share some quick and easy editing tips for times when you are in a crunch.

One quick tip for a fast edit in the field is to start with an image that has good bones, to begin with. Essentially what this means is that you try to get the images as close to your vision for the final outcome, straight out of the camera.

So slow down and really think through elements like exposure, composition, tonality, etc., right as you are taking the image. This will definitely help speed up your editing even more.

Golden Gate Bridge with a pink hue at sunrise before editing straight out of camera -

A clean straight out of camera shot that was almost what I wanted to achieve.

Karthika Gupta Golden Gate Bridge with a pink hue at sunrise after a quick edit

A few minor adjustments to amplify the pink/orange hues for a quick edit.

Conclusion

I hope these editing tips were useful. Keep in mind, the whole point of this exercise is to make editing in the field easy and quick.

You can always come back and re-edit those images to perfection when you have the time to spend hours on a single image (we have likely all been guilty of doing that at some point or the other – it is called the photographer’s dilemma!!).

Do you have any other quick photo editing tips you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below.

The post Tips for Quick Photo Editing in the Field appeared first on Digital Photography School.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images

I am a huge fan of the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies. They were very popular in the 2000s and their songs were creative, fun and edgy. They also came up with a children’s album called Snacktime and it was a blockbuster hit. Now you must be wondering what a music band has to do with photography but just bear (pun intended!) with me and keep reading on.

One of the songs on the kid’s album is called “Crazy ABC’s” and it was not the traditional alphabet song. In fact, the whole song used unique and different words that begin with the traditional letters of the alphabet. Are you still with me here? At the end of the song, the lead singer (Ed) encourages kids to think outside the box when it comes to learning. Everyones knows the typical A, B and C words like Apple, Cat, and Ball. But think outside the box and see what a wonderful world it opens up.

Thi is how that example relates to photography. We all know the basic composition techniques – the rule of thirds, center focus, fill the frame, etc. How about we change things up and look at some of the atypical composition techniques – after all, it really is such a wonderful world out there, why see it from a boring frame of reference!! Let’s get creative.

#1 Look for reflections

Reflections don’t always have to be done with water. Reflections on water are probably the easiest thing to do if you want to get creative. But following the theme of changing things up, try other surfaces as well. Actually, any reflective surface can be used to add an element of creativity to your frame.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - reflections

Nothing wrong with the typical reflection in water shot…the fact that I get to see the snow-capped Himalayas twice over was enough to get me to do the typical/traditional shot.

Karthika Gupta Photography - Memorable Jaunts DPS Article-Creative Composition Techniques-reflection 1

But pushing beyond the boundaries of typical and photographing this lovely couple’s first look on their wedding day, with an added reflection in the glass takes it to another level.

#2 Look for symmetry

Just like in point number one above, symmetry does not necessarily mean centered composition of the subject. As long as you can draw a virtual line across the frame and have two exact replicas of the image, symmetry is achieved. Try to think of creative ways to achieve symmetry.

food - 6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images

Food is one of those subjects that lends itself to a multitude of different composition techniques. By isolating these appetizers (don’t they look absolutely delicious) in a central composition, I was able to create symmetry horizontally, vertically and maybe even diagonally! Again, think outside the box.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - symmetry

One of my favorite clients from a few years ago…here the symmetry is implied – parents on one end of the spectrum and kids on the other.

#3 Use of negative space

I love the use of negative space to add so much more to an image without any additional weight of other subjects. I am always thinking of ways to use negative space to add that extra special “oomph” factor to my images.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - negative space

This little Italian car screamed for my full attention – using negative space with a wall exactly the same color as the car was a little different but this image is all about that car and nothing else!

The Vatican - 6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images

Negative space can be used for any genre of photography – people, things, and even places. The Vatican deserves everyone’s undivided attention, there’s no doubt about that!

negative space with a model - 6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images

My lovely model from an editorial shoot last year. She totally owned that shoot and this image shows her strength, tenacity, and attitude – the only thing in this image is her, simplified by the use of negative space.

#4 Multiple exposures

This is by far one of my favorite ways to add a little creativity to my images. Don’t feel you need to be limited by using only two exposures in the case of multiple exposures. This works great for three or even four exposures and can be done in-camera as well as in post-processing.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - double exposure

A typical double exposure using a textured image and a human element.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - multiple exposures

But why stop at two exposures? Here I used three exposures to showcase the active, multi-faceted mind of a creative. A lot of thoughts race through our minds at any given point in time – here is a creative way of documenting that!

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - multiple exposures

Another three exposure frame – an extension of being creative with your composition.

#5 Slow down your shutter speed

By having a long exposure (slowing your shutter speed) you can add some creativity to your shots. Traditionally we see this with waterfalls or flowing water shots. But try and do this with other subject matter as well. Sometimes that intentional blur can be used just as a creative expression, or to create abstract art in your images.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - intentional blur

This was actually taken from a car as we were driving along a California highway. The car was too fast for me to get any sort of sunset shot so I decided to embrace the movement and create an abstract version of what I was seeing.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - motion blur

Here motion blur or slow shutter speed was much more intentional. I was camping on the beach along the Oregon coast as the fog was just rolling in and people were walking back to their tents. By slowing the shutter, the waves took on this milky look and the people magically faded away from the shot. For this kind of shot, I used a tripod to make sure the sea stacks were sharp.

#6 Creative framing

Try and incorporate frame within a frame within a frame or any combination of that in your photos to add a fun element and lead the viewer into where you want them to focus their attention.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - framing

My lovely client backlit and framed within the doorway. The sun was too bright behind her and the rest of the room was dark – a perfect recipe for taking a step back and framing the dark against the bright.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - framing

Here the happy couple is being framed by the staircase and steps in a more subtle way. The eye is being led down and around the sides of the railing leading the viewer into the bottom of the frame where the couple is taking a moment to be with each other.

6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images - framing

This is one of my favorite images of my kids…one of the few times that big sister is being nice to her little brother! The leaves along with the tree frame them, directing your eyes to the center of the frame where they are interacting.

Conclusion

I hope these tips encourage you to think differently when it comes to photographic composition. Sure you likely know the tried and true rules – things that you know will work when all else fails. But you know what? Embrace that failure to grow creatively.

Experiment and try some of these creative composition techniques. In fact, take a chance and maybe try a couple of them together. Who knows what might happen, but at least you will feel like you explored outside your comfort zone. And the best part is that these tips work well for almost any genre of photography. So get out there and create some magic.

The post 6 Creative Composition Techniques to Boost Your Images by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks

I am a national parks buff – I mean I am really crazy about traveling to national parks all over the world. As a family, we have been known to pack our bags at the drop of a hat, load up the car and head out for a visit to our fabulous national parks. National parks provide some of the best landscapes and vistas you can find.

Because much of the land and natural resources are protected, you really get to see nature at its very best. There is so much to see, do, explore, and of course, photograph. Photography in national parks offers incredible opportunities to create some amazing photos and memories!

Photography in National Parks -1

Additionally, there are a huge number of photographers who make a living photographing landscapes, animals, and vistas in these national parks – talk about it being a dream job.

But photography in the national parks is not an easy slam-dunk. There is a lot of preparing to do before and during a photography trip to a national park. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to photograph your favorite national park.

#1 Preparation for a national park photography trip

Let’s just start from the very basics on how to prepare for a trip to photograph national parks. First and foremost, the National Park Service in the United States has a certain set of rules and guidelines for photography in the national parks. Before you plan a trip specifically for photography, make sure you have familiarized yourself with the latest rules and regulations.

This article in Backpacker Magazine is quite informative, but if you are confused on what is allowed and not allowed, feel free to call the park services directly. The rangers in almost all the parks we have visited have been very well informed and are very helpful with rules around photography. In a nutshell:

  • Drones essentially are banned from National Parks and if caught, you can be fined.
  • Permits are not needed if you are using basic tools (tripod, camera, and a lens) to photograph vistas that are accessible to the public.
  • Permits are needed for commercial filming (still and video) and sets that involve props and/or models.
  • You will likely need a permit to enter an area not accessible to the public.
  • Backcountry rules may differ from front country rules, so definitely call the park to confirm.

Keep in mind that these rules are applicable for parks here in the US. If you are traveling outside the US, check with the local park authorities and/or check in other travel forums. Being prepared is an added bonus that will really pay off in the long run. The last thing you want is to get to your location only to find out that you don’t have the right paperwork and/or permit.

Photographing National Parks -2

Parks in India don’t have much of a hiking concept – most people prefer to go on safari to see the wildlife.

For example, parks and historic monuments in India that require an entrance fee have specific fees for Indians versus foreign tourists and an additional fee per camera (still and video). Some places don’t even allow camera bags and tripods – you have to check your camera bag pack into a locker prior to entry to the park.

#2 Rules and Regulations – Dos and Don’ts

Along the lines of rules and regulations, there are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to visiting and photographing inside national parks. Most parks are very good about letting you know what is allowed and what is not allowed. Signs, posters, and even handouts are available in plain sight. Playing ignorance is not an option and isn’t going to let you off the hook.

Stay away from wildlife and help them remain wild

My friend works for the Yellowstone National park and every spring she puts up this message on her Facebook page, “Welcome to the season of the crazies. May this season be shorter than the last!”

While it might be amusing and make you smile, this is quite serious to the men and women who work at Yellowstone. People (a.k.a visitors and some photographers) seem to want to go to any lengths to get a selfie or award-winning photograph with bison, bears, and the hot thermal features that Yellowstone is so famous for.

People have lost their lives trying to get the perfect shot! Nothing is worth losing your life over and endangering the lives of innocent animals whose habitats we are encroaching upon. (Note: if an animal attacks you, it may get put down, so by not following the rules you’re endangering their lives as well as your own.)

 Photographing National Parks -7

It is amazing how many people think that just because bison are herbivorous it is safe to get close to them! The people in the car did something right by just stopping the car to let the bison go and taking photos from inside the vehicle!

Never feed wildlife just for the sake of a photo

I have seen this happen time and time again. One time, my daughter was so angry to see a group of people who were feeding a bunch of squirrels lettuce and nuts, that she went up and chastised them and reported them to a ranger! Any activity that alters the natural behavior of animals is unacceptable no matter what the reason.

Never jump the fence and get off the trail

Getting off trail affects the land, the soil, and the environment. Trail markings are there to keep visitors safe and out of harm’s way. Every season rangers and outdoor crew hike the trails to ensure they are safe and can handle visitor foot traffic.

Yet people seem to ignore the signs to stay away so that they can get the epic shot – standing on the edge of a rock, diving into a pond at the base of a waterfall, or climbing the face of a mountain and take a selfie.

Photographing National Parks - 11

This is pretty much the scene at most of the waterfall/bridges in Yosemite National Park – but what you don’t see here is that there is an even bigger crowd on the other side of the bridge climbing on slippery rocks with the most illogical footwear!

#3 Playing fair and playing well with others

I really love reiterating this one time and time again. Over Christmas break, we traveled as a family to Zion National Park. If you have been to Zion you know that capturing the sunset against the Watchmen tower formations are iconic and almost every photographer (amateur or professional) is looking to capture that epic sunset.

Crowds start to gather almost an hour or more before sunset and getting a prime spot can get competitive and sometimes ruthless! There is also a path that leads down from the bridge to the water’s edge for tourists and anyone looking to hike along the river. One evening we were waiting for the sun to set, cameras ready to fire, when a few families decided to walk down to the river essentially getting into the frame of each and every photographer waiting on the bridge above.

Suddenly someone in the group decided to shout at the visitors – essentially asking them to leave the area. I was so mortified and embarrassed about being on that bridge that day with all those people. The National Parks and all its beauty is for everyone to enjoy – being a photographer does not take precedence over being a visitor taking in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. Thankfully a few others felt the same way and spoke up to let the photographer know we didn’t agree with his sentiments.

Long story short, be respectful and aware of your surroundings. These special areas are for all to enjoy – you don’t have special privileges just because you have a camera (however big or small). Most people are well aware of photographers and if they see you all set up, will try and avoid getting into your shot or quickly move away. If this doesn’t happen, just move or patiently wait it out. I never ask people to move just because they are in my shot, especially in national parks.

Article Photographing National Parks -10

A typical scene in Yosemite waiting to photograph Half Dome right at sunset.

Photographing National Parks -12

Those people right by the water – they have the right idea – getting out and enjoying their National Parks. It is we photographers that sometimes don’t quite know how to have fun.

#4 Making the most out of the trip

Before heading out, do some research on what the areas are famous for. Is it the epic vistas? Is it the magical sunset and sunrise glows? Or maybe it’s the wildlife? What are some of the famous monuments and landscapes to photograph and what are some of the lesser known areas?

Just because an area is not on the “must photograph list” does not mean it is not spectacular in its own right. Once you know what all YOU want to photograph, plan your time wisely. Look for road closures and construction notices. If possible stay in the park. This eliminates the need to travel into and out of the park daily – some of the popular parks have major clogs at the entrances especially during popular times. This can cause a lot of traffic delays and you might just miss that epic sunset (and I speak from experience!).

#5 Getting the shot

Now that you have planned your trip, figured out what and where you want to photograph, you understand the rules and know what to do and what not to do, here are some ways you can actually get those epic photographs.

Get out before sunrise and stay out after sunset

Get out when it is still dark outside and experience a different side of the park. Chances are the only other people out at this time of the day are photographers and people who really want to enjoy some quiet and solitude. This is a time when the park is quiet and animals tend to be out and about.

Morning mist, if present, adds so much interest and drama to a photo. In addition, the wind is usually calm at this time of day, making for easy reflection shots. The same holds true for sunset shots. The average person will spend a few minutes admiring the sunset and get back inside. Stay out past sunset and you have some incredible lighting all to yourself!

Photographing National Parks -3

Yellowstone in the winter after the sun sets is the place to really enjoy all the wildlife. Coyotes enjoy a bison kill.

Find your primary subject and then try something new

When you find an interesting subject, try to look at it from different angles. This not only will change your perspective, but also allow you to see how the light affects and changes the image. Try it with the sun on the side, at the back, and in front by simply moving your feet.

Photographing National Parks -8

I am not an equestrian photographer by any means, but when we came across the wild horses in Roosevelt National Park, I just had a mental picture of photographing them galloping across the road. Sure enough, while we pulled over to admire them, a few folks just drove on by and the horses got spooked and took off! So I got the shot I wanted!

Enjoy your surroundings beyond your viewfinder

I am very very particular about this! There have been numerous occasions where I have not looked past the viewfinder and come home feeling frustrated and irritated. Travel and the outdoors mean the world to me, photography is just icing on the cake. If I don’t get to enjoy my cake, just filling up on the icing, it is a moot point, don’t you agree?

So during the day when the light is not that great, I try to put the camera in my backpack and enjoy time with my family hiking the park. Plus this gives me a chance to scout locations to visit later in the trip, specifically for photography.

Hike into the backcountry – away from the crowds

I find that most people in the parks stay in or near their cars when taking pictures. To get a different picture (literally) find a trail and head out. You may find that you can leave the crowds behind, have a better experience, and make better pictures.

Be sure to plan ahead by checking out the park’s map for safety tips and any route closures. And of course, follow all safety rules of hiking in the trails and in the backcountry.

Photographing National Parks -6

As a family, we really love to camp and backcountry really gives us the opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors together. Gear is obviously not a priority here – so this was shot using a small 35mm film camera – a perfect companion for a 5-day camping trip.

Conclusion

I hope these tips were helpful. One of the most important events in history was the establishment of the world’s first national park on March 1st, 1872. Since then, thousands of national parks, national monuments, and preservation areas have been set aside for the enjoyment and pleasure of the common person.

So get out there and enjoy nature while creating some amazing photos and share your images of national parks near you in the comments section below.

The post 5 Tips for Doing Photography in National Parks by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography – That is the Question

Photography is one of those careers where the industry is so broad that realistically you can select any field to focus on. Even if you define yourself as a particular type of photographer, you can further niche yourself into one of the many subcategories that are available in almost every genre.

For example, if you are a fashion photographer you can further categorize yourself as catalog, high fashion, fashion blogger and/or editorial. Portrait photographers can focus on maternity, family, newborn, high school seniors, etc.

There is such a multitude of options available that sometimes it does get a bit overwhelming. It is true that there is a market for almost any type of photography, but you have to understand that you cannot be a photographer for everyone. Not only would you get burned out, but your business messaging and branding could be confusing to potential customers.

So how do you choose what genre of photography to focus on or specialize in? Is it monetary or interest driven? Here are a few things to think about when deciding to specialize in a certain area of photography or be a jack of all trades

#1 – Interests and Skills

To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography - That is the Question

Be honest with yourself and figure out where your interests really lie.

Are you as passionate about nature and landscape photography as you are about newborn photography? What are your strengths? Do you have the magic touch to calm any sort of pet? Are you an animal whisperer? Or are you someone who can maintain their composure no matter what, so dealing with a crazy stressed out bride is a walk in the park?

Photography is as much about soft skills like communications and people interactions as it is about technical skills.

#2 – Market size and potential

This is probably not something that we creative people really want to think about but analyzing the market size for your ideal clientele is really crucial. It does not have to be specific numbers – even a quick ballpark is sufficient.

To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography - That is the Question

Look at housing data, high school enrollment, photography businesses in your area, and other factors to figure out the market size. Even if your market size is small, try to understand if there is enough potential to upsell.

For example, if you focus on weddings, are your clients more likely to hire you for anniversary, maternity and/or family portraits because they like, know and trust you and your work? If so, then maybe family portraiture and weddings are markets that you could potentially build.

#3 – Messaging or branding

This is an often overlooked part of a market analysis and if I am completely honest, one that even I ignore from time to time. I ignore it because I don’t have the bandwidth to manage multiple websites, multiple social media accounts, and multiple channels.

To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography - That is the Question

More often than not, one falls off the bandwagon. If you are working and playing in two genres that have a lot of overlap then you can get away with using branding and messaging that speaks to all the areas under one umbrella cohesively. However, if your markets don’t overlap then I strongly suggest you separate out the businesses so they can be their own entities.

For example, a good friend of mine is a wedding photographer and a business coach for creative entrepreneurs. She has two different websites, two social media accounts, and two different businesses. But she is talking about them across each channel because overall her brand aesthetics are the same and she can cross-pollinate content from one to the other. She has targeted her coaching clients as other photographers, artists, and creatives in the wedding industry.

To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography - That is the Question

Now, regardless of what I say and what you might think, this argument about specializing is not as easy as black and white. The reality is that sometimes we all go through dry spells, times where there are no paying clients, yet our bills have to be paid. It is easy enough to run a marathon weekend of family sessions and make as much or more than what you would make with one wedding.

Sometimes it feels like inquiries for all the things you don’t want to do come in the door and none of the work that you really want and love. At the end of the day, all I can say is that we each do what we must to earn money, pay the bills and have some semblance of enjoyment from our work.

Conclusion

So, what’s the final verdict? Should you specialize in your photography or not?

Yes, it makes good business sense to focus all your efforts and energies on your chosen genre. There are a lot of benefits to specializing, such as technical and creative expertise, name and brand recognition, etc. But when there isn’t a consistent flow of clients because of external factors like market changes, client needs and/or a recession, you do what you must to stay afloat and earn a living.

The post To Specialize or Not to Specialize with Your Photography – That is the Question by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

Finding your photography style can be a somewhat daunting task especially when you are just starting out. But let me assure you that this also is a problem some of the veterans face from time to time. Do you know why? Because we are human and our likes, dislike, and attitudes do change over time. This is only natural.

While you may think that if you have a good thing going in terms of an established style, why rock the boat? But sometimes not listening to that inner voice can have negative effects in terms of creating work that you are really proud of!

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

This bridal shoot reflects my style, my branding and the visual aesthetics of my business.

So regardless of where you are in your photographic journey, there are a few things you can do to find your style and creative voice – be it in terms of photographing or editing your photos.

One thing to keep in mind as you are going through this process is that less is often more than enough. So don’t feel like you need hundreds of images to create a successful collection of photographs! Here are 5 tips to get you started on finding or defining your photography style.

#1 – Determine your goals (this is your why)

The first thing to understand in defining your style is to ask yourself what are you looking to accomplish with your photography. Are you looking to photograph for leisure or pleasure? Do you want to sell your work in terms of print or stock? Do you want to use your images for your portfolio to attract a certain type of clients?

There are many different genres of photography and there are many different types of clients for each genre. It’s typically best to start the process of defining your style by focusing on one collection of work at a time, so set your goals on what you want to accomplish for each individual series of work.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

I want to create images that really reflect the personality of my clients – the people they are and not the people I want them to be! My client, the couple in this wedding, is really a fun loving bunch with a great set of friends they share lots of laughs and joy with on a daily basis! So this goofy photo was one of their favorites.

#2 – Seek inspiration

Research, research, research. In other words, look around you to see what everyone else is doing and creating. It is very important to be aware of what other photographers are creating in your industry. I am not telling you this with the intention of you copying or following what everyone else is doing. But with the intention of educating yourself on what all is out there in the market space.

When you are defining a unique style for yourself, you can certainly use their work for inspiration, but do make your images different so they speak to you and your own aesthetic sensibilities. Your photographs are a visual representation of your brand, so try to think of ways to be true to yourself while still adding a unique edge to your work.

You can use visual tools like Pinterest and fill it with images that represent the look and feel you are trying to achieve – not just with the photographic style but also the editing style.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

This is one of my favorite go-to poses. It was an inspiration from a magazine – it has been used many times over but is still a favorite for both my clients and myself.

#3 – Be your own critic

This may be the most difficult thing to wrap your head and mindset around, but it will definitely help you in the long run. Take a step back and really analyze your work. Pick 10-20 of your favorite images that speak to what you want to focus on (your goals) and really ask yourself what is it about them that you like or dislike. Analyze the images in terms of emotions they convey, tone and mood they set, and even how they look from a distance as well as from up close.

The idea is that you want to bring yourself to a point where you feel you can recognize your style from wherever you look. Look for similarities in subject matter, composition, depth of field, lenses used, tones, colors, and any unique patterns your eye may catch. No matter which genre of photography you are pursuing, you are still the artist behind the camera and you are creating these images.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

I love photographing on clear bright sunny days as it really helps me photograph with intention and keep my style in mind.

#4 – Define your rules of engagement

This process is important because it will really help you set guidelines for yourself so you can start to be consciously consistent. Note what makes all of the images unique to your brand and your style of photography, and how you are going to make them better. Maybe even print out your favorite images so you can compare and contrast any new work you produce to fit within the framework of your style.

For example, my work is very light, bright and airy because that is how I like my images. I constantly compare new work to see if it fits within that style. In order for me to photograph in that style, I need a few things to be aligned – bright sun, elements that are pastel toned, and scenes that are less busy. This is not to say that I will not photograph dramatic skies or colorful market scenes – it is just not what my eyes naturally gravitate towards. This is just one of the rules I have given myself permission to maintain in order to stay true to my style.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

I love using Instagram as a visual media to showcase my style and my brand. It is a very curated look at how I photograph, what colors I gravitate towards, and how my images look and feel. Instagram is also a way to attract potential customers so I view this platform as an extension of my portfolio.

#5 – Make mistakes intentionally

After all the hard work you have put into defining your style, I am going to do a complete 360 turn and tell you to go ahead and break some of the rules and make mistakes. Why? Because that is the best way to learn what to do and what not to do.

By experimenting and trying out new things, you might find inspiration for a new genre of work. Like I said earlier in the article, your photographic style does not have to stay consistent for the rest of your life. If something else really motivates you and gets your creative juices flowing in spite of having a set style of photography, go ahead and experiment and see where that leads you, based on your why and your goals.

One accidental shutter click or new editing technique can often spark something new that’ll make your work better, or lead you into an entirely new collection of work.

5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style

Every once in awhile I find myself walking over to the dark side and I quite like that creative freedom. A photo shoot where the light and shadows were so extreme it opened my eyes to the possibilities of dark and moody images. I love giving myself the freedom to experiment with this style.

Over to you

I hope these simple yet powerful steps help direct you towards finding and experimenting with your own photography style until you find something that is a reflection of you, your mindset, and your brand.

The post 5 Ways to Develop Your Photography Style by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

10 Ways to Become a Better Photographer in 2018

Let’s face it, it’s the new year. Your heart is full of hope and your head is bursting with ideas on what you want to do this year, be a better photographer, and how you will go about executing it. You have so much hope in your heart that you will achieve your all your 2018 goals, that you walk around with a goofy smile plastered on your face!

Am I right or am I right? Or have I just described how I have been feeling ever since that clock struck midnight and we ushered in 2018!?

10 tips to become a better photographer

Here is a bouquet of stunning florals to wish you a happy 2018!

It is 2018 and let’s start the year right with a few simple, easy yet powerful things you can do if one of your goals is to become a better photographer in the next 12 months.

1. Rock the gear you currently own without buying more

Do you feel limited by the gear you own? Are you telling yourself you really need to upgrade your camera, lens or both? Great! you are exactly where I need you to be.

Challenge yourself to use your existing gear consistently for a few weeks or months. Try to get creative with what you already have instead of hitting purchase on that gear that is sitting in your cart or Amazon checkout.

10 tips to become a better photographer

I had no telephoto lens on hand to get some close-ups of these birds…so instead, I used negative space and rule of thirds to take a creative approach to this image.

2. Photograph in every possible lighting situation

I really believe there is no such thing as bad light. Light is light – it is just different at different times of the day and night. One of the best ways to understand light is to photograph in different lighting situations and challenge yourself to create something unique and different that you are proud of.

Each lighting situation will demand different things from you and your gear. Harsh midday sun will have you rethinking shadows and light. Early morning light or golden hour will have you thinking of ways to create magical images that highlight that golden light. Blue hour may challenge you to bring out the external flash so you can get creative with colors.

Use this exercise to really understand and make the most out of each scenario.

10 tips to become a better photographer

 3. Treat every subject as a rock star

Not every subject is going to be your ideal client. Until you are in a position to only attract your ideal clients, use every opportunity to work towards building your portfolio for your ideal clients. Each client deserves to be treated like they are rock stars. So it is your duty as a photographer to give them the best experience possible – be it in posing, editing, styling or general customer service.

10 tips to become a better photographer

My morning cup of tea and a simple kitchen towel was my subject matter as I practiced still life photography This image is one of the more popular ones on my social media – people really seem to gravitate to light and clean images at times.

 4. Deliberately limit yourself

Today’s DSLR cameras are quite sophisticated pieces of equipment with multiple shutter clicks per second (continuous) and creative photographic modes (Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority) that do a lot of the work for you.

Instead of using those, I challenge you to limit yourself. Think like a film camera photographer and only use 24 or 36 frames to tell your story. Change to Manual mode and try to figure out how shutter speed, IS, and aperture really work to help you take more control of your photography.

10 tips to become a better photographer

I love photographing with a film camera on vacation. It really helps me maintain a good balance between having a vacation and taking pictures because I only have a limited amount of frames to use.

 5. Take an art class

This has nothing to do with photography, yet at the same time, it has everything to do with it. Sometimes stepping away from the thing that we love the most or obsess about can be a really good thing. I have found art, particularly drawing and painting, to be very therapeutic and relaxing. It also gives me a chance to look at creativity with a new lens. As I analyze shapes, sizes and brush strokes – I look at color, patterns and composition in a new light.

6. Study your camera’s manual

I remember taking a technical writing class in graduate school where we had to create a user manual for a product. It was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken because we really had to think as a layman user to design, craft and write the manual. It made me realize that manuals, if done correctly, are incredibly powerful learning tools because they really break down every aspect of the product individually as well as collectively. So don’t be so quick to throw away the camera manual – it might be just the thing you need to really understand the workings of your camera.

7. Use a traditional film camera

10 tips to become a better photographer

Medium format camera love, one of only 16 frames per roll. I love the way medium format film renders colors and tones.

This ties in to point number four above. A film camera is a great way to learn the manual mode of photography because it really makes you think about light, exposure, ISO, and aperture to produce a good, clean image. Also, there is no chimping at the back of the camera screen so you really have to slow down and think of the photo you are trying to produce and then click the shutter.

You have a limited amount of frames per film role and have the additional cost of developing and scanning your pictures at the end of the day. All these factors make you a more intentional photographer as opposed to a “spray and pray” photographer (one who takes several pictures in automatic mode and hopes that at least one will work in his/her favor).

8. Study the work of other photographers

I am sure you have a lot of photographers that you really look up to for various reasons – how they compose, how they handle difficult lighting situations, how they interact with their subjects or even how they run successful photography businesses. Follow them, study how they do things, figure out what makes them tick and how they succeed, and use those ideas to reflect in your own road to improving your photography.

10 tips to become a better photographer

Last summer in Rome I really practiced using a lot of negative space in my cityscapes. Sometimes just a hint of a popular landmark is needed to give a sense of place.

9. Experiment with new techniques

Contrary to popular belief, I feel that photography is not something that you can study in a limited amount of time and then say you are an expert in this field. The field is constantly evolving and expanding and there is always something new to learn.

Become a student no matter what your level of experience and be open to learning new and exciting things in this art of form. It is sure to bring forth much progress in your craft overall.

10 tips to become a better photographer

Triple frame shot on medium format film during an editorial shoot to showcase busyness!

10. Evaluate your own work with a critical eye

Really think about what the work you are producing. Before asking for critiques, refer back to your work and figure out what you like and don’t like in your own work. Chances are you will find several things to add to that list.

Also don’t be quick to delete photos you may not like right now. Wait for a few days to look back and assess all your images. You are more likely to find some new favorites among photos that you previously thought were not correct or worthwhile.

Conclusion

I hope these 10 tips really helped shift your mindset a little bit towards your photography. Hold on tight to that feeling of being invincible that often comes with the new year and use it to the best of your abilities to better your skill and craft.

Tell us about your photography goals for this year in the comments below.

The post 10 Ways to Become a Better Photographer in 2018 by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.

1 2 3 7