Have you ever looked at your photos and wondered why they don’t look as good as the ones in magazines and newspapers? It’s one of the most common questions that most professional photographers get asked – “how can I take photos like you”. The answer is that you can! With practice, experience and hard work anyone can take great photos. But in the meantime, here are 8 tips that will help you on your way.
Give yourself lots of time
Often one of the main reasons that the photos in magazines and newspapers look better than yours is simply because the photographer had more time. So, when you turn up to a location and take a couple of photos and leave the pro is still there and waiting for the perfect moment, light and subject.
Of course, sometimes it simply isn’t possible for an amateur photographer to spend the same amount of time at a location as a full-time photographer. But the key is giving yourself more time than you usually would. Always remind yourself that it is much better to come back from a trip with 5 or 6 stunning photos than 100 mediocre ones.
Set up a shoot
Even professional photographers sometimes will set up a shoot to capture the photo that they want to take. This could be as simple as putting themselves or a companion in the foreground of a landscape scene to add a point of interest. Or on the other hand, sometimes they will compose the shot and wait for something to happen.
For example, an alleyway might look uninteresting without someone in it. So, you’ll compose the shot and wait for someone to walk into the frame where you want them.
At other times a shoot could be a more extensive set up by getting models or arranging with local properties. This obviously takes a bit more research and planning but can give you real control in the final outcome.
Step out of your comfort zone
You won’t find many professional photographers who enjoy getting up in the early hours of the morning or like standing around in the cold and wet to capture a photo. But sometimes it is just this notion of being uncomfortable that can mean stunning photos.
If you want to capture truly unique travel photos you have to be willing to travel and put yourself in situations that might not be comfortable. Sure, the Hilton hotel will mean better night’s sleep, but will it give you the same photo opportunities that photographing a local family in a farmhouse will?
Find the story, then the photo
Another attribute that professional photographers have is that they can often visualise the story that an image tells before even taking the picture. Even a traditional landscape shot can tell a story. This is a skill that you need to try to develop if you want to capture great photos.
So next time you see a scene in front of you and are about to take a photo unless it’s a fleeting moment, take a few seconds to think about what story the photo is saying. Then once you are sure you know the story, compose your shot and take the photos. You will probably find a big improvement in your photos just by doing this.
Be bold and confident
Just because you are not a professional photographer doesn’t mean anyone should get priority over you in taking a photo. It also shouldn’t stop you from approaching people and asking to take their photo. Always be confident in your ability and the photo you want to take.
Don’t be afraid to use post-processing
Some people see post-processing as taboo and it’s almost like it shouldn’t exist. Whilst there are some places that this should be exercised such journalism for example, in other situations, there is nothing wrong in using a post-processing software to enhance your photo.
How much you do will depend on you and your preferences and what the photo needs. If you are unsure what to use in a post-processing software, starting out by just adjusting the white balance, brightness and contrast. Just tweaking these will enhance your photo for the better. Further post-processing might include things like vibrancy and saturation to make the colours stand out more.
Work with a pro
One of the best ways to really boost your photography skill and knowledge is to actually accompany a pro. You will be able to get a first-hand glimpse of how they work what they see and how they go about seeing and composing their shot. This can be invaluable.
There are two ways you can do this. You can either contact a professional photographer whose work you admire and see if they are willing to have you come along on a trip with them (but don’t be surprised if you have to pay your own way). Or the more likely scenario is that you will need to go on a photo tour or workshop. Whilst this extra cost might seem unnecessary, what you will learn could invaluable.
Stop trying to take photos like the pros
This might seem like a big contradiction based on this article, but ultimately you shouldn’t be looking to take photos like the pros. You should be taking the best photos that you can for yourself. One of the great things about photography is that it is subjective and as long as you are happy with your photos and love what you are doing that is the most important thing.
Everyone sometimes looks at travel photos that are in magazines and guidebooks and wishes that they had taken that shot. There is nothing wrong with admiring other people’s work and even being inspired to be able to take photos as good as them. With practice and experience, you will see an improvement and the tips above should help you improve your photos. But ultimately the only opinion that matters is yours.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.