In the smartphone age it seems that everyone is a photographer. Social media is awash with amateur photography; some of it is absolutely superb, demonstrating a keen eye and exemplifying the interstice between science and art that photography is. Some of it is poorly composed garbage layered with filters and soft focus to give it a spurious sense of substance. If your snaps have consistently drawn praise from friends and family you may be tempted to take your skill further, developing it into a hobby or even, given time, a career.
Still, if a career in photography were easy, everyone would be doing it. As with any skill worthy of being turned into a profession it takes a lot of time, practice, dedication and knowledge. Enrolling in a local beginners photography course is a great start but for those who are truly serious about improving their skills, every inch of inside track is a gift. Thus, before you start your first lesson, get out there with your camera and snap away… But keep in mind these important elements that make a great photograph…
First of all… composition is everything!
Good composition is taken for granted but poor composition stands out like a sore thumb. Good composition is hugely important and is the first component of photography that should be mastered for your skills to develop. It’s the foundation upon which everything else rests. A solid understanding of symmetry and the rule of thirds is essential when starting out and when you know all the rules, that’s when you can have fun bending them a little. An asymmetrical shot can still be well composed when you use techniques like object balancing, leading lines and plain old good framing.
Capture the moment
The best photographs are a perfect snapshot of a moment, which is why news outlets pay such great money for them. Capturing a moment is largely dependent on luck and instinct but tinkering with settings and shutter speed will also help. Sometimes the golden rule of composition will go out the window in the name of capturing the shot but your should still adhere to it whenever possible.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and great photography tells a story while also leaving a little to the imagination. An eye for composition is key for this, as well is a keen eye for the nuances of facial expression, body language and proxemics that makes up the kind of drama that we see writ large on movie screens every day.
Use of light and colour
Never underestimate the importance of lighting. Lighting, especially natural lighting, can give even the most mundane of shots a sense of almost supernatural drama while poor weather conditions can be overcome by reflecting and refracting whatever natural light you have available to you. Mastering the relationship between light and colour can make shots pop more effectively than any post production filter.
We walk around and view the world from a certain perspective and that shapes how we view the world. Thus, a picture that shows us the world from a different perspective really makes us take notice. When shooting children and pets, a shot taken down from their level is often far more interesting than a shot taken from the perspective of a full grown adult.