1 Forget the automatic mode
Your camera is stupid, it doesn’t know which exposure time and which aperture is best suited for your image idea; for your image statement. It can neither see your subject nor look inside your head, but only measure some technical parameters. So, take the trouble to think briefly about what you want to portray and how, and choose either the time or the aperture or both yourself.
2 Read the manual of your camera
You’d think that the first thing anyone would do is study their camera manual, but I know many photographers who don’t and then start puzzling over how to set this or that at the location. Often the light or the subject is gone and they have missed the shot.
3 Use the RAW format
If you shoot in JPEG format, a lot of information that was originally recorded by the sensor is lost due to compression. In image processing, the correction possibilities are much greater if you shoot in RAW format.
4 Acquire basic knowledge in image processing.
Things like white balance adjustment, colour correction, sharpening, denoising, contrast, saturation, brightness, conversion to black and white, editing… everyone should be able to do.
5 Go out and take photos
I don’t take better photos by sitting in front of the computer and admiring the photos of other photographers and watching Youtube films in which some people explain how this or that photo technique works. I only get better when I take pictures and then look at them carefully and think about what I can do better next time and how I can do it better
6 Don’t think so much about your equipment
Sure, there are sometimes big differences between the different cameras and especially the lenses. However, the contribution of the camera and the lens to a really good photo is usually very small. Much more important are things like image composition, light, image idea, light, colours and above all the light. If you are absolutely sure that you have got everything that is technically possible out of your equipment and then you reach your limits, it is time to think about buying a new camera or a new lens.
7 Use fixed focal lengths
If you do want to spend money, don’t buy a fifth zoom lens but a fixed focal length. The results with a 100€ 50mm/1.8 will always be better than with a 24-70mm/2.8 for 1500€. Another advantage is the much more conscious image composition because I don’t just turn the zoom to change the image section but have to consciously change my position. And a little more movement never hurt.
8 Make your photos for you
Who are you taking photos for? For any followers on Instagram or Flickr? For your Facebook friends? For other photographers? Of course I’m happy when my picture on flickr gets 17,000 clicks and 600 stars. And of course I’m also happy when JanLeonardo Wöllert, Patrick Rochon, Eric Paré or Pala Teth like my light paintings, but it’s much more important that I myself am happy with the result.
And to see the happy face of a client when they receive “their” picture as a large print is priceless, even if it only gets 800 clicks on flickr because my fellow photographers don’t like it
9 Don’t constantly look at the success of other photographers.
Sure, you can be inspired by one or two successful colleagues. But you should never take photos just because they will probably get a lot of attention on the internet because some photographers are very successful at the moment with a certain type of photography or a certain type of post processing. That can also be over very quickly. Stay true to yourself, which of course doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t evolve.
10 Photographs consciously
I often see photographers who press the shutter almost non-stop and then delete 95% of their pictures afterwards. It’s easy with a digital camera and the current prices for memory cards. Sometimes they get a lucky shot or two with the remaining 5%. But sometimes they don’t. Apart from that, it is a lot of unnecessary work to sort through 5000 photos.
Your results will certainly be better if you think about what you are doing and what you want the result to be before you press the shutter. Think about your composition. Always keep an eye on the important settings (ISO, shutter speed and aperture). At what ISO value does the image noise become really disturbing? At what aperture with the focal length can I crop my subject? At what shutter speed can I freeze the fast movement of my subject or show it in a motion blur? Is the focus where I want it? etc.
Always good light and better photos
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