F-Stop. Shutter speed. ISO number. They are all super important photography terms that sound like Charlie Brown’s teacherspeak to me. Waa-waa-waah! Most of the time, I don’t want to be a fancy photographer, I just want to take pictures. While I have forced myself to learn some of the technical elements of photography to make me a better travel photographer, I have also picked up some tips for taking better pictures that don’t require any techinical skills.
Tips to Make an Amateur Photographer Look Like Pro
- Spring for good equipment. Photogs with skills can get away with using cheap equipment and still get great shots. Those of us who are faking it, need to help ourselves out by letting the equipment do the work for us. Choose a camera that has an automatic setting that will give you the best point and shoot options.
~I took 50 bazillion lousy pictures of this sloth before I got this great one.~
- Adopt the mantra: Not Quality, but quantity. In lieu of any real photography skills, it’s best to increase your chances of getting a great photo by just clicking non-stop. If nothing else, dumb luck will have to come down on your side eventually.
~This photo was an award winner (taken by someone else). It was easy to find the shot spot and copy~
- Be a copycat. Before you head out to a popular attraction or event, take a look at some other photos from the same location on the web. Study the shots that really speak to you and think about ways you can recreate that same image during your visit.
~Shooting these photos from below gives the perspective of how giant they are in the field~
- Look at it from every angle. One of the elements that transforms a good picture into a great picture is a unique perspective. Go ahead and shoot it the “normal” way, but take some time to shoot up close, and from above and below. Think about how you can capture a location that has been photographed thousands of times that will make people take a second look.
~Not a terrible picture, but it would have been so much better shot from the other side to get rid of the blue trashcan.~
- Eliminate distractions. Nothing kills a great photo faster than a distracting element that draws your focus away from the good stuff. Take a couple of shots and then check your screen to see if there is anything in your picture that can easily be eliminated or framed differently.
~With people streaming into the USS Missouri, I had to wait a while for this long walkway to clear and get my shot.~
- Patience pays. Good things come to those who wait, and the same is true for photographs. Ask any “real” photographer about some of their best shots, and they’ll tell you that they had to wait for just the right light/moment/whatever to get that shot. If you see the potential for a great shot, don’t be afraid to wait for it.
~No words necessary: this is the picture of summer happiness.~
- Tell a story. Anybody can take a picture, and lots of people can take great pictures, but it takes a special touch to tell a story without words. In your non-stop shutter clicking, thick for a moment about what kind of story you want to tell and what emotion you want to capture from that moment. Ask yourself if you can take your photo in such a way that it would be able to stand on its own without any words.
~A Simple Auto color correct made this picture one of my favorites.~
- Learn to use photo editing software. Post production processing covers a multitude of photography sins. I know some people think messing with your photos on the computer is cheating, but those people are
losersgood photographers. For the rest of us, using a photo editing software can save your otherwise lackluster images. Most software even has an auto correct setting that will do most of the work for you.
~I love portraits that are on an angle for added interest.~
- Look at photographs that you love and discover what makes them awesome. There are some great rules of composition that you can study and learn, but you want to train your mind to see those things without having to consciously think about leading lines and rule of thirds. Study the photos you love. See what makes them great, then try to duplicate that when you shoot.
~Just a ho-hum photo can pop with a bit of fun filters from Pixlr-O-Matic~
- Don’t be afraid to play. Gone are the days when photographers are limited to expensive film and development. Digital photography is an invitation to play. Try black and white. Play around with a program that adds filters to your photos. Crop your photos in wacky ways. Just start playing around with an average photo with an open mind and you may have an end result that is truly stunning.