The most important tip is to have fun with your photography. Let your Self emerge in your photos – pay attention to what’s happening around you. Find joy in the moment; capture images great and small; and tell their stories. Most experts agree that you get one great photo out of every fifty shots, so don’t hold back.
Below are ten tips to help you get there. I took all of the photos using my DSLR – Nikon D5300 (see #6). Enjoy.
- Know the rules . . . then break them.It’s important to know the basics that guide good photography so you can choose which onesto break. Creativity is about going outside the box – don’t be afraid to experiment and take chances. If it doesn’t work, delete. If it does, you might end up with a shot like the pier to nowhere below (centering the subject breaks the rule of thirds), taken at a nature preserve near my home.
- Psychology is about how you think, feel, and act. Photo psychology is the same. Use your instincts and take risks. Garbage can be beautiful;dogs can be as cute as babies; and landscapes can transport you to another space and time. It’s what you see and feel – a mirror of your mind and heart – like my Golden Doodle puppy, Tucker, after playing in his first snow.
- Care about what you shoot. If you have an emotional response to something or someone, it will magically appear in your photos. It’s the feeling that makes a photo memorable.Below is a gentleman I met in a Manhattan pub. He was determined to keep traditional urban elegance alive.
- Tell a story. Everyone loves stories. Use your camera to tell a story that compels people to ask questions like who, what, when, and where?It’s fun and sets the imagination on fire.Picture what this woman is doing, high up in a skyscraper, silhouetted by the office light. I never met her . . . but easily visualized her life.
- Look at everything. Choose your subject carefully; check out light, color, texture, and context. Thiswindow was not particularly interesting until the sun set, reflecting colors and images – from inside and outside – that transformed it into an abstract painting.
- Learn your camera. Each camera is different. Learn the settings, design, and capabilities of your model. You wouldn’t drive a car if you didn’t know how to turn on the lights. It’s the same with a camera. Check out the documentation that came in the box; google your model number; watch how-to videos; or buy a book. I’ve done all of the above to learn about my hot red Nikon.
- Make light and shadow work for you. Photography is all about light and shadow – it transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. The most dramatic light is at sunrise and sunset when shadows are longerand deeper. Don’t let that stop you from shooting at other times; just be aware of how the light and shadow affects your image. One day during a trip to Florida, I watched the sunrise. Suddenly a small boat caught the early morning light in a photo that made my trip.
- Take your camera everywhere.Don’t leave home without it. You never know when that perfect shot will come along. It might be at the house next door or a vendoron a city street. Keep going, keep shooting, and love every minute.¬ It was a cold winter day in Manhattan and this street promoter was handing out information about the Yo! Bus that travels between New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. He was in the heart of Chinatown, with an irresistible smile that invited to take his photo.
- Travel.Watch for special shots you can’t get at home. The more you travel to different places and environments, the more you find new and exciting images. Some of the best photography is by professionals who constantly move around the world, cameras in hand. I’ve traveled to six out of the seven continents and each one held a special magic. My favorite was Antarctica, where this penguin paused to survey his world.
- Get into the moment with mindfulness.What’s happening around you in this moment? Be mindful of your immediate world. Find awareness in the moment; see rather than look; and free your Self. Focus on the beauty around you and capture it in your camera. Allow yourself to feel good, taking a time out from daily stress. This is a flower blooming in late spring – on a street where no one noticed. Its color, beauty, and simplicity became a painting in my lens.
We live in a world of images. Take advantage. Look closer at professional photographs; check out photos in promotions and travel brochures; and follow blogs about the best in photojournalism. There’s a huge amount of information online for any photographic subject that interests you. There are also many print magazines and books that introduce new ideas and techniques. Workshops and groups are available everywhere – from local spots to around the world. Don’t hesitate. The camera is one of the most powerful tools you can find . . . and it’s all yours.