If you’re into photography, it can feel like there are hundreds of secrets that successful photographers keep hidden from the rest of us. But once you learn them, you’ll be able to produce better pictures than your competition—and maybe even get paid more to do so! Here are 8 secrets to mastering photography that I learned in my years as a photographer.
1) Make sure your camera is in manual mode
The best way to get started with photography is by using manual mode. When your camera is in manual mode, you’ll be able to set the shutter speed, aperture and ISO. You can also turn on P or A modes which will allow you to see the settings that have been chosen for you. If you’re not sure what any of these mean, don’t worry! Learning about them will come in time as you gain more experience.
But know that having full control over these settings is essential if you want to master photography. One easy way to do this is by putting a rubber band around your lens and setting it so that it won’t move. You might need a second person’s help for this step! Once you’ve put the lens into manual mode, use something like a rubber band to attach it firmly to your camera body.
Make sure that when you turn on the camera and try to zoom in or out, nothing happens because the whole process should be done manually now. With practice, you’ll learn how changing each one of these variables affects your photos. For example, an aperture of f/1.4 will make your subject look blurry while an aperture of f/16 will make your subject sharper and in focus.
What are some other tips for beginners?
Don’t give up: As photographers we often take our shots and think Oh I could have done better. Don’t beat yourself up; everyone has their off days!
2) Be present while you shoot
While many creatives have a natural eye for composing and editing their shots, others often struggle with feeling lost in their camera’s interface. But fear not! We have compiled a list of handy tips that can help you go from not knowing what ISO is to shooting like Annie Leibovitz (okay, maybe not quite that good). Do your research on the type of camera you plan on buying – different models have different lenses and built-in effects that will help you excel at capturing your favorite memories.
Always keep your gear clean and ready to use at all times; this way it won’t be so frustrating when you’re running late or experiencing an equipment malfunction. Use filters sparingly – they are great when used correctly, but don’t overdo it because it might take away from the quality of your photos. Lastly, be aware of lighting conditions: harsh sunlight, indoor lights, and artificial light sources each produce different types of shadows that should be accounted for before pressing the shutter button.
In order to capture those memorable moments without distraction, simply adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to best suit the situation. The first thing most photographers do when going out for a shoot is pack up their camera bag full of chargers, extra batteries, cables and cards—all things which may seem necessary but actually aren’t required unless you need them.
3) Play with depth of field (DOF)
What is depth of field (DOF)? Depth of field refers to the amount of your photograph that appears in focus. To take a sharp photo, you need to adjust your camera’s aperture so that it lets in more light from the lens. In turn, this will give you a large depth of field, which means all parts of your image are equally in focus and can be seen clearly. Keep in mind that there are two types of depth: front-to-back and side-to-side.
With back-to-front depth, items closest to the camera will appear sharper than those at the far end of the range. With side-to-side depth, items on one side of the range may appear sharper than those on the other side. It’s up to you as an artist how much or little DOF you want! If you prefer blurriness with a blurry background, try photographing near an object rather than behind it. Then, use a shallow depth of field and close down your aperture.
Do you have the urge to create artful images? Play around with DOF by adjusting settings like shutter speed and ISO until you find something that captures what you’re looking for. You might just discover a whole new level of photography mastery! Experimentation is key to mastering any art form, so go ahead and break some rules. Have fun exploring different depths of field and playing with colors. You never know when inspiration will strike! The best way to master photography is to keep taking pictures. Get out there and experiment!
4) Practice, practice, practice
It’s easier than you think to learn how to take better photos. Whether you want to shoot portraits or create lovely scenery, the only way you’ll master photography is by practicing. That being said, it can be helpful to have a few tips and tricks in your pocket as well. Try out these 8 secrets to mastering photography:
1) When shooting indoors, set your camera on manual mode with a low ISO setting for the best results.
2) To capture motion blur, use a long shutter speed (typically 1/60 of a second).
3) For beautiful waterfalls or lakeside shots, use fast shutter speeds to freeze any motion.
4) To lighten up dark corners of indoor shots, set your camera on night mode (also known as slow sync flash).
5) Aperture settings are important when taking macro photos because they control the depth of field.
6) The brightness of an image depends on your shutter speed- so make sure to adjust both if needed!
7) You should always compose your shot with color theory in mind, which means making sure that complementary colors are next to each other.
8) Lastly, remember that everyone takes bad pictures now and then- don’t give up! Practice makes perfect! Take time every day to practice your photography skills. What’s more, experiment with different aperture settings, shutter speeds, and modes to see what works best for you.
5) Use light to shape your subject
Camera sensors require light, so turn on all of the lights in the room or seek out a place that naturally provides a lot of ambient lighting. This will eliminate shadows and create a bright environment. If you don’t have access to an external light source, then use your flashlight or device’s screen as your main source of illumination and make sure that it points straight at your subject.
Turn off the flash on your camera if possible and set up the shot from where you’re standing because this is going to provide natural-looking lighting. Another great way to take pictures without any artificial light is by using what is called night mode. Turn this feature on when you’re shooting late at night or early in the morning when there isn’t any direct sunlight.
Night mode slows down shutter speed, which captures more natural detail in low-light conditions like dark rooms or sunrise shoots. These settings also allow for higher ISO numbers, making images clearer even with less light available. The downside to this is that digital noise may show up in photographs taken with high ISO settings.
Night mode can be turned on manually or automatically based on time of day, but either way it’s a good idea to experiment with different modes and see what works best for your specific shots. Shooting at sunset? Change the setting to evening mode. It’s easy to change these options just by clicking on night or evening in your camera menu. Experimentation is key!
6) Shoot people who inspire you
I feel really grateful for those moments when I come across a photographer who truly inspires me, so I want to share a few of my favorites with you. Below are photographers who I think are really taking the craft to the next level by choosing interesting subject matter, lighting, or themes and staying true to their own vision.
Rinzi Ruiz – Rinzi is an artist, curator, and designer. His work revolves around his family, identity, history and sexuality. Tyson Walters – Tyson captures what it’s like to be transgender through candid portraiture. He often shoots in LA’s skid row where he meets trans women from all walks of life as they find their freedom on the streets.
Chloe + Isabelle – Chloe and Isabelle capture beautiful moments between mothers and daughters with real storytelling. Natalia Mantini – Natalia has been shooting since she was a child. Her projects range from personal photography, illustration, graphic design, videography, and digital art direction.
Her most recent series There She Goes captures mothers letting go of their little girls before they start school. The portraits show the emotional farewells, hugs, kisses and tears that mingle together during this bittersweet moment. It’s tough to look at these photos without tearing up myself.
7) Keep your gear handy but out of sight
It’s tempting to whip out your camera every time you see something interesting, but resist the urge. If you make your equipment visible, people may get uncomfortable and ask you not to take their photo. Make yourself inconspicuous with a good camouflage approach: Keep your gear handy but out of sight until it’s needed. Stay hidden by using your surroundings as cover or by crouching low enough to stay below eye level.
Avoid taking photos when someone is looking directly at you; wait for them to turn away or look elsewhere. Also keep in mind that some locations are off-limits, such as airports and military bases. When photographing kids or other children in public places, never use a flash because it can distract them from what they’re doing or frighten them (flash photography is also prohibited in many museums). Instead, use natural light whenever possible.
If you don’t have much control over the lighting situation, try waiting for dusk so that your subject isn’t in direct sunlight and risk squinting or having a dark background (which could lead to an overexposed image). Be sure to adjust your shutter speed accordingly—you’ll want it slower than usual if there’s not much light coming through the lens. The more light you let in, the faster your shutter speed should be set. To determine how long to set your exposure, count how many seconds one second represents on your camera and then multiply this number by 16.
8) Get inspired by others. Always.
Famed photographer and filmmaker Ansel Adams developed his skills as a young boy. He was fascinated by geology, which led him to photography. His obsession with rocks and pebbles lead him to paint in pastels and watercolors at the same time he was teaching himself photography. As you can imagine, it wasn’t an easy balance; he had difficulty earning enough money from painting because he spent all of his time on photography.
To make matters worse, during WWII (1939-1945) film became scarce so Adams couldn’t develop his photographs. However, he never stopped pursuing photography and continued to work on a series of portraits called The American West. When the war ended and photographic supplies became more readily available, Adams started to pursue both art forms again.
His work has been shown around the world and he has received many awards for his accomplishments. One example is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was awarded posthumously in 1984. Adams’ work embodies what it means to be passionate about your craft and put in the hard work necessary to become one of the best.
The very best way to know a man or woman is to love them without hope, said Thomas Merton. If they don’t want me now, they may want me later. If they still don’t want me, then that’s their problem. I’m not going to wait for anyone. Besides, I might find someone better than who I’m waiting for if I keep looking.