If you want to improve your photography, stop taking pictures. I don’t mean stop taking pictures, of course 😉 but stop build a picture instead.
A snapshot is a picture you take without taking too many shots. thinkJust because your friends ask for it, or because you see something funny that deserves to end up on Facebook or in your holiday photo album. In fact, you can even take an accidental picture by accidentally pressing the shutter button. Your cat can take a picture. (ok, maybe not, but you get the idea :P) But we all start that way by taking our first camera in hand (myself included).
An image is a picture that embodies an vision. Something thoughtful, something constructed, not random. What makes great photographers is not a perfectly controlled exposure, a white balance or a good post-processing. Those are tools that anyone can master (yes, even you who have had an SLR for 2 days 😉 ).
What makes a great photographer is the ability to move the person looking at her pictures. Really talking to her, connecting with her through the image. An image can evoke joy, sadness, fear, nostalgia, or any of the infinite emotions we are capable of feeling.
And that comes from creativity. Your priority must be to nourish your creativityfirst and foremost. Learning the technique serves first and foremost to give you the tools to express this creativity. But in order to express it, you must first of all by have. Don’t tell me you don’t: Like many things, I’m convinced that… teachable (in fact, I’m even convinced that luck can be learned 😉 ). You can work on your creativity every day, and here are a few ways to help you.
Photograph a lot, but with one idea in mind
As I said before, it is not a question of stopping you from taking pictures for fear of taking only pictures, and not images. It doesn’t matter if you take pictures 😉 I advise you on the contrary to always have a camera with you (even your phone), and to use it of course. Take pictures dailyThink photo, live photo ! If you look closely, you’ll see tons of photo opportunities. And you will greatly improve your ability to see the right compositions, special viewing angles, and anything visually interesting enough to make a good picture.
I keep repeating this advice, but I’ll add something else: have an idea in mind. It doesn’t have to be very complicated, but having an idea of what you want to represent helps to search for potential images in your environment. Your idea may simply be to make a picture that represents the summer atmosphere of the day. Or a picture of your friends having a good day. Or the gloomy atmosphere of the subway in the morning when everyone leaves for work. It’s a very simple technique, but having an idea of what you want to photograph keeps your eyes open to look for it. And when you search, you find 😉
Ask yourself why
The reason for which you’re taking a picture is momentous. I’d say that’s the difference between a cliché and an image. A cliché doesn’t really have a purpose, it’s made “just like that”, whereas an image is used to convey a feeling, a message, an emotion.
When you fire the trigger, ask yourself why you want to fix this moment on the sensor. What do you want to represent, what do you want the spectator feels by looking at your picture?
The answers to these questions will absolutely condition all your photographic choices, from exposure to post-processing, including composition of course. These answers can be as simple as “immortalize that great Grand Canyon landscape” or “make a beautiful portrait of Mary”, but always try to keep them simple. elaborate further. “Showcasing the vastness of the Grand Canyon… in that particular light of autumn sunsets…” or “enter that cute little raise of an eyebrow on Mary’s face”. The more you specify your whythe easier it will be to define your how afterwards.
The why is actually the artistic side of photography. The how is the technical side.
Take your time
Once you’ve thought about why, and you know exactly what you want to get through the image you’re building, you’ll need to think about the “why”. how (and therefore get a little technical).
This how will be defined always compared to the why. Example “how to give an impression of vastness, and how to bring out the light”. Or “how to emphasize that raised eyebrow”.
And that’s when (only then) that you will use your technical knowledge to express your creativity. To express your why. To express yourself at all.
But we’re gonna have to take your time There are an infinite number of different ways to express the same why. In a second, I can think of half a dozen different ways to express “Marie’s cute, raised eyebrow”. Both in the shooting and in the post-processing.
The idea is to take the time to find the purely technical parameters that best correspond to what you feel. You the find out more at you can feel when the picture is exactly just as we wanted it. When you take a picture, there’s that little pinch in the stomach that makes you know the maid is in the box before you even look at your screen. In post-processing, this is the moment when you have been trying to make small improvements for the last 5 minutes but keep coming back to the same settings, which seem better to you.
You can even take your time upwind if it’s a scheduled photo shoot. Do not hesitate to collect images that inspire you, or to draw what you would like to get (I also draw badly, but that’s no excuse :P). It will help you to focus your attention on your idea of the final image.
It’s better that you focus on creating one good image rather than taking 10 badly constructed shots!
So I hope you’ll try to ask yourself today why you take a picture, and as a result of take your time to build a beautiful image that expresses how you feel, rather than taking a quick, tasteless shot 😉 (which is not to say that all quick shots are tasteless).
And don’t forget to share the article! 🙂