As a special gift for signing up for my newsletter, I wanted to provide you all with 10 quick tips I have found useful for my own photography. These tips have helped me to figure out my own style while also better understanding myself and my photography. Most – if not all – of these tips are very simple. They are not meant to be thought-provoking; they are just a simple idea that you can choose to follow if you so please. I have also included in this list two or three tips that pertain to your safety while going out on adventures. For, if you are not safe while in the vast outdoors, you won’t be able to get the best out of these tips when you arrive home!
Tip Number One: Get Up Early, Stay Out Late
It does not matter what genre of photography you do: the best light is the 15 minutes before the sun rises, and the 15 minutes after the sun has set. As landscape photographers especially, these times become critical to getting the best possible images at a scene. Of course, they are not always the most viable options depending on who you are. However, by getting up early and staying out late, you are maximizing the amount of time you have to get the best shot possible. Instead of only having three or so hours outside because you woke up late, you can have closer to six hours. By doubling your time spent outdoors, you are doubling the number of compositions you can get!
Tip Number Two: Composition
The best advice I received was from a YouTube video on landscape photography that told me how composition should be simple. Instead of following all of those rules that past artists have instilled on us, simply get rid of what you do not like in the scene. This is not to say that the rules are useless, for they are very important none-the-less. However, the majority of my pictures do not follow one specific rule all the time. Instead, when I come across a scene that I like and think that I can create a composition out of, I figure out what I like most about it. From there, I frame the scene around that, getting rid of whatever it is I do not care for. If I cannot do that in-camera, I will do it in post-production.
Tip Number Three: Keep It Simple
Sort of going hand-in-hand with the last tip, when you are composing a scene, try to keep it as simple as possible. If you are photographing a mountain, introduce some negative space so that most of the focus goes to the mountain rather than what is surrounding it. The less distractions there are, the better the image may be. This of course is not a guarantee, but it is still something to think about.
Tip Number Four: Use Your Phone
Often times I find myself coming across a scene that I sort of like but, at the same time, don’t feel like setting up my camera just for one image. To combat this issue, I have begun using either my phone or my film 35mm camera to take these simple travel shots instead. While you cannot always print these photos out or edit them the same way as the others you have taken, having this shot will still put your mind at ease later on when you realize how great the composition truly was. Another way of using your phone is to simply open the camera mode and figure your composition out with it. This way, you are still able to get a rough approximation of what your image will look like without having to setup your gear for a shot that may not work out anyway.
Tip Number Five: Travel with Protection
If you are planning on going on an adventure, regardless of where to, you should be traveling with some sort of protection. Whether this comes in the form of a friend or pepper-spray, you will not regret the decision. The last thing you want to have happen is to get harmed or attacked with no way of people being able to help you. And though this should go without saying, I will also add into this tip a mini-tip: let people know where it is you are going, when you left, and when you plan on coming back. This way, if you are not back when you told them you would be – and they cannot get in contact with you – they will know where to send help.
Tip Number Six: Buy Hiking Boots
The number one most annoying thing I see people do is wear sneakers when hiking. Worse than that is when they wear sandals or flip-flops. When you are out hiking, you should be wearing shoes that allow for as much ankle support as possible. Why? It should be obvious. If you are to slip on a wet rock or slide down a hill, as I have done many times before, you want to make sure that your ankles have the support needed so as to not be sprained or broken. Go out and buy yourself a pair of good hiking boots that go up past your ankles – or up to mid-calf for even more support – and make sure they are waterproof as well. Then wear the hell out of them. They are worth the purchase. That hospital bill from breaking your ankle, however, is not.
Tip Number Seven: Get A Camel Pack
What in the world is a camel pack, you may ask? Well, it is a plastic container that holds water and is reusable. It goes by many different names, such as camelback, water hydration pack, water bladder, etc. Essentially, you fill it up with some ice and water, throw it into a designated spot in your backpack, and then drink from it a you need. Most of them come as one liter or larger, which is equal to something like four bottles of water. I could be wrong there, but regardless, why would you want to carry around that many water bottles when you could just have this nifty little water pack thingy? It saves so much space and is a lot better for the planet as well!
Tip Number Eight: Taking Photos > Editing
What is with so many photographers thinking that they need to spend hours in front of the screen, tweaking every adjustment, blending thirteen different layers, just to make sure their photographs are perfect? Instead of doing this, I challenge you to try and get everything as close to perfect as you can in-camera. This way you can spend more time out in the field, getting more images to work with and post to your portfolio, and you will spend less time in front of the computer screen. While you do this challenge, try to strictly use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw to edit your work. This will change the way you shoot entirely. Let me know how this works out, as I am interested to see if it works for you as well as it has for me.
Tip Number Nine: Black and White
Let’s talk about black and white conversions for a second here. As you know, I absolutely love black and white photography. However, I do not understand why so many people believe that it is a simple way to turn an otherwise awful image into something worthy of being in your portfolio. When you are out taking photographs, you should be photographing a scene with intentions of it either being in color or in black and white. Of course, this will not always work out the way you want, as an image may look better one way or another. Regardless, decreasing the saturation or simply clicking that button to turn your poor image into something that you think of as “good,” is not at all the way to use those options. Instead, photograph with the intention of it being one way or another. I hope this makes sense to you, and I hope it helps you out.
Tip Number Ten: Print Your Images
Earlier this year, I decided to spend the 200 or so dollars on a Canon printer, and I honestly believe it has been one of the best decisions I have made so far this year. Why? Because every time I print off an image of mine and hold it up, a wave of joy takes over my body. I love the feeling of the paper against my fingers, the ability to physically hold onto something that I made, that I poured my heart into. There is truly no feeling like it. So I highly recommend you to print out some of your favorite images, frame them, and hang them around your house or dorm room. Even if you do not own your own printer, there are plenty of online services out there that are cheap and easy to use.
So there we go, 10 quick and simple tips to help you with your photography. I truly hope that you have gained something from this. If you have any questions or recommendations for me, I would love to hear back from you! In the meantime, look out for my next email, coming at you on the 5th.