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Updated by Mark MacLaren Johnson on Dec 06, 2018
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10 Ways To Improve Your Photography

“What can I do to make my photographs better?” is a question amateurs to seasoned pros ask again and again. Here is a list of ten tips and exercises to improve your images.



Be Picky

While I first began shooting travel photography I told myself to shoot as much as possible. I thought with this philosophy I was bound to have a few good images after a two week trip. It worked and still does, but a good exercise to improve your skills is to limit yourself. Go for a photowalk and only shoot three frames, nothing more. You might actually find ten great shots, but as an exercise to develop your critical eye tell yourself that you have only three remaining shots (pre-digital era). This will force yourself to choose carefully and examine each frame corner to corner.Awash Studio


Change your Point Of View

AwashStudio Flip through a gallery of photos and ask yourself - how many photos are taken at eye level? There are an endless amount of images taken eye to eye but it's rare that they are unique or stand out. When I approach a person or subject I get the first photo out of the way and take it head on. I do this because I know Im going to explore the subject from every angle and my goal is to find the best perspective but perhaps what I really want is to find the perspective that wasn't thought possible. Get on your knees, chest, back. Climb up a set of stairs, on top a car, someone's shoulders. This change in perspective can make the most photographed person in the world fresh and one in a million.


Change your subject to LIGHT

Another exercise that will develop good habits is to always be mindful of good light. Go for a one or two hour photowalk with only one goal - find good light. Shadows, golden beams, soft haze, warm hues. Go where the best light is and whatever subject that happens to be there shoot it. You can turn an empty room full of life and memory and feeling. I used to only focus on finding the right subject until one trip I was in the desert. It was mid summer without a soul around and I has six weeks of shooting. After a few days I had enough of strange shaped rocks and trees. In the harsh sunlight on the desert I challenged myself to find soft light. At first I thought it was unlikely but as the days passed by I noticed my visual senses sharpening and surprised myself.


Invest In Subjects

Awash Studio As I explore places I'm always looking for a door to open and a friendly face to let me in. I want to spend the entire afternoon with a stranger and their family. Too often travellers overlook great photo opportunities and shy away from a friendly invitation. On the surface there might not seem to be anything of interest. But so often I've accepted the cup of tea from someone I didn't particularly want to photograph because I've learned it leads to other things. A surprise phone call and next thing you know your in a car going to a festival or to a wedding. The lure of famous tourist attractions might preoccupy you but they will always be there and have been photographed a million times. Bargain with a stranger and open yourself to the unknown.



Awash StudioRight, so you've found your dream subject and you have a great portrait of them. But the bigger picture is this person's life and where they live, work or play. A portrait of someone's face does create questions in the viewers mind which keeps their attention. But my goal for portraits is for viewers to return again and again to the image. Ultimately your a story teller and taking a portrait of someone in their environment will tell a story much effectively. A carpenter posing in his shop full of tools, a ballet dancer in a studio with others, a bus driver at the wheel with impatient passengers . Be mindful of what is in the background as it's just as important as the subject. Don't be afraid to give some direction to the subject . Politely ask them to sit somewhere so there is a view of their environment. It can take the photograph to the next level.