5 Tips To Up Your Photography Game

1.       Composition

Setting up your composition is something you have to plan beforehand. Whether it’s shooting a wedding, portraits, or shooting landscapes always set a goal to what you want to achieve with certain lenses, effects, or being inspired from your favorite photographers work. Once given the opportunity, see the shot before snapping away. Portraits require more thought, because you’re collaborating with your client and what their specific needs are. When doing on location portraits, make sure you use a telephoto lens for that bokeh effect to blur out the background with your depth-of-field. When shooting portraits in landscape, and portrait view, keep your subject to the left or right. The placement will make or break your shot. The rule of thirds is very important aspect of photography (examples are below) and it will guide you to have great composition 100% of the time.  With landscape photography, keep in mind that your shot has to be straight and leveled with the horizon. Make sure you do not Dutch angle anything for it will decrease your showmanship as a professional.

Example of the rule of thirds

Example of the rule of thirds

Example of a bokeh effect

Example of a bokeh effect

2.       On Camera Filters, or Gels

Ever notice why your shots may have a washed out sky or the color might be flat? Adding an on camera filter can add more depth, and vibrancy to each shot. Neutral density filters are best for long exposure shots for waterfalls and city shots with rivers being super smooth. Adding a polarizer can take that harshness out in mostly sunny conditions to add rich deep colors and saturate the flat areas making your images pop. Not only does it help achieve a better image, it also protects your lenses from scratching. For portraiture, all you need is a UV filter to protect your lens and the DSLR sensor from the sun’s rays. The same type of filter is found on your sunglasses. Colored gels can help a ton when you do black and white photography, adding more depth to bring out highlights and tone to your pictures. It is a little bit of a hassle because you need two parts: a bracket to slide the gel in and the gel filter itself, but it’s great when you want to be super creative and keeps photography exciting.

3.       How To Make Your Photos Stand Out

With the increased amount of people taking pictures and social media, photos are a part of daily life. Everyone owns a smart phone to shoot photos. So the question is, how do you make your shots stand out when you visit a popular area where many people took pictures? This is how: Research what other people have been shooting by doing a quick google search, or inside your favorite social media app. It can give you an inside look from what other aspiring artists are doing. After that, you can go into a shoot and try to replicate those poses from those sources. With landscapes, you can add certain effects with camera filters and gels, editing in photoshop, and different lens combination such as macro photography with plant/animal life around you. Creating different angles that keep you inside the rule of thirds, and adding people to your shots with themes can be fun and exciting. Photoshop is very powerful tool while editing and the possibilities are endless inside it. For example, you can layer different photos in there and could be a great way to make your work stand out from the rest making it more creative. 

Here's an example how I created one image with layers, from my piece '"Star seeker"

4.       Story Telling

People love reading stories with life journeys bringing aspiring events to inspire others. After all, for thousands of years of documented history, we have been telling stories and sharing our experiences in hope that it will live on. Like music, people have a connection to it with compelling lyrics that people can relate to on an emotional level. We need an emotional connection, because it makes us feel alive. It also grounds us to know that other people out there have gone through those same experiences. In art, and more specifically here in photography, it's important to talk about how you took the shot, the thought process behind it, and what it took to tell your story.

I would recommend to not hashtag us to death, and please add the location where you shot your picture. People do get turned off by it, and some believe that too many hashtags means you’re desperate for likes/followers.  It makes people disengaged, and eventually not interested in your future posts. They will later see it as not interesting, and it's less of a chance for you to stand out here in this digitally connected world. So get out there and put in the work, and tell everyone what makes your work awesome.

5.       Lighting

Lighting is so important, but the hardest to master. Most cameras have a built-in flash, but they can give you a deer-in-headlights type image, or a harsh background shadow when shooting portraits. The best way to shoot portraits on your DSLR is a diffuser. A diffuser softens the lighting, and evens out your images. Pointing the flash up can fill in the gaps where the darker areas could be present, and decrease those shadows dramatically. Soft boxes are great for a constant even light, and umbrellas are great with weddings, or portrait photography. You can remotely set off the flash with a transmitter without worrying about battery life, and not worrying that your flash could blind your subjects. When shooting outside, umbrellas are not practical so reflectors held by an assistant is a great way to reflect light filling in the gaps that your flash cannot provide, and they’re super cheap too.