Do you ever find yourself looking at pictures you see in magazines or on the internet and think to yourself “WOW! These are incredible!”? The composition is perfect, the lighting is on point, the colors are popping, and you end up with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Then you glance over at your shots and find awkward compositions, dull light, lackluster colors, and you end up feeling jaded and frustrated?
You are not alone.
I used to think that there was some cosmic secret to being a hot shot photographer, some list of commandments written in stone that would guide me on my journey. It all became clear to me when I started following these three tips every day!
Tip#1 Always Plan Your Compositions
This idea seems simple, but it is one of the most important aspects of photography overlooked by many. planning your shot before you trigger the shutter can mean the difference between National Geographic and showing your friends on social media. Try different focal lengths, orientation, raising and lowering your tripod, experimentation is key!
Tip #2 Always Shoot In Manual Mode
Shooting in manual mode allows you to control the exposure settings of your camera. Doing this will build a much more intimate connection to your camera. You will start to understand how your camera's ISO, shutter speed and aperture all work together. Using manual mode will also allow you to set the exposure for your subject, something that is hard if not impossible in "auto" mode.
Tip#3 Use Off-Camera Lights to Illuminate Your Subject
I know what you’re thinking, "Natural light is the best light! It’s all the rage right now." I would say that you may be right, it is all the rage right now- for amateur Instagram photographers. If you learn how to set off camera lighting you will be able to instantly set your photography apart from the rest of the competition. That being said, not all lights are created equal. There are flashes, LEDs, and everything in between. I see more pros ditching flashes and picking up LED lights, which have multiple benefits.
The best option that I found are the Insignia Platinum 308 Rechargeable LED lights from Best Buy. These lights give you a high CRI( color reproduction score,) variable color temperature, variable intensity, and the remote operation that much more expensive lighting options have, but at a lower cost than the new smartphones your friends are using to update their Facebook accounts. You can find them here with free 2 day delivery.
If you follow these three steps, you will be well on your way to crushing the photography game! The most important thing to remember is to just get out and shoot.