12 Photography Techniques Every Beginner Can Try Today
By EyeEm Team - 7 min read
Flex your photo skills with these tips
If being a better photographer were as easy as changing your Facebook profile to read ‘photographer,’ we’d all be pros by now. Alas, it is not so easy, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s a process – the journey to being the best photographer you can be is half the fun of it. And whatever level you may be at, you always have room to grow. Follow these 12 practices, and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Elevate your image with focus
What’s great about photography is that you can decide to take as much or as little control as you’d like over the end result. One common theme among great image makers? At the very least, they consider what’s in focus and what’s out of focus. Focus is your mode of speaking to the person who’s viewing your photo. It’s what tells a story, it calls importance, and it’s what ultimately evokes emotion.
2. Shoot what you like
This one might sound familiar. And that’s because it’s a great tip that’s easy to forget but key! In the end, the stories, people, and places that inspire you are the ones that are going to give you your best photos. Chase the images that make your heart thump, rather than the ones you feel you have to do. You’ll notice a difference.
3. Shoot outside your comfort zone
This might sound the opposite of tip no. 2, but you’ll quickly find that there’s a healthy medium. In short: challenge yourself to shoot differently. Not used to shooting portraits? Call up a fascinating character in your town and schedule a shoot. Exclusively shoot with a 50mm? Try a fisheye or a macro lens. With every new experience, you’ll learn at least one new lesson to making better images.
4. Refine your processing skills
There are two major players in defining how your final image looks: 1) how you shoot it and 2) how you process it. One golden rule to live by is to not overprocess your photo. It’s tempting to overdo it when you have HDR, filters, and Photoshop actions at your fingertips, but less truly is more. With plenty of practice, you’ll get better and better at refining your processing skills to subtly bring out the beauty that already lies in your photos.
5. The rule of thirds, it actually works
It’s science. There’s something about this magical compositional formula that’s attractive to the human brain. When put into practice, the rule of thirds actually produces photos that are visually appealing. So what is the rule of thirds? It’s a rule that states when an image is being composed, it should be equally divided into 9 squares by 4 intersecting lines, and subjects of importance should sit along those lines or where the lines intersect. Learn more at our guide. And get some inspiration with photos from a recent rule of thirds Mission.
6. Get a basic lighting setup
Lighting will make or break your photo, and not having enough light can be a brutally unforgiving woe. You may have shied away from lighting because it was intimidating or seemed too extreme, but when used just right, it can make a world of difference in the quality of your photos. The Strobist has great guides for photographers who want to up their game.
7. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself
And on that note, don’t be afraid to DIY it. You can DIY just about anything: reflectors, ring lights, macro lenses, backdrops, monopods, etc. As a photographer, you have the natural advantage of being creative and being crafty. With the internet as your resource, you can find tutorials on a huge variety of projects and people who are more than willing to give a guiding hand. We recommend Instructables, Photo Reddit, Photojojo, and DIY Photography.
8. Know your camera
A wise photo professor once said, always read your camera manual from front to back. Why? Because it’s not until you know the full capability of your camera that you can take full advantage of your skills as a photographer. Imagine if Picasso never got past his blue phase or if Bach composed for a single instrument. Without knowing their full range of tools, their masterpieces wouldn’t exist, and what a waste that would be!
9. Get your camera holding technique down
When you’re in the moment, the last thing that you want to do is fumble. That’s the kind of thing that will make you miss the shot. This comes down to practice, but also giving yourself the tools you need. Try a grip, a hand camera strap, or tutorials like this mobile steady guide or this DSLR guide.
10. Learn how to use layers
Layers is a Photoshop tool that lets you overlay two images. You can use this technique to lay make a double exposure image, or you can use it to make finely tuned edits. It’s a really great method of selectively editing parts of your image. Learn all about it in this tutorial.
11. Experiment with tilt-shift photography
If you haven’t heard of tilt-shift before, chances are you’ve seen a photo or movie that was shot in tilt-shift. It’s an effect that comes from a lens that is slightly tilted. This can be attained in a few different ways, including DIY lenses and lenses that are specially made to tilt. Whatever the method, there’s no question the end result makes for stand-out photos. Take a look at the tilt-shift album for an idea.- you’ll find dreamy vignetting, images beautifully thrown out of focus, and at times spectacular a miniature effect. Check out this guide.
12. Practice simplicity in your photos
Consider this a way of getting zen with your photography. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to carefully compose or to sit and wait as a scene changes before you. Simple compositions will teach you how to be more intentional with when to hit your shutter button. Read up in this guide to simplicity in photos. You can also find inspiration from the community in the recap from our recent Mission, Smart Simplicity.
With those 12 tips, may you be on your way to getting better everyday. And make sure to share your shots along the way on your EyeEm profile. There are plenty of opportunities to get noticed with The Week on EyeEm, #Follow Friday, and Missions. If you’re itching for more learning opportunities, follow along with our Learn & Shoot series, too. Happy shooting!
Header by @elinoni