First of all, you don’t need a new camera. These photography tips don’t cost you a penny, you don’t have to buy anything, on the contrary, they might even improve your cash register a bit and get rid of unnecessary weight.
You will see, if you implement these consistently and pursue, you have enough to do, -)
The good news is – these photography tips are – just like my article about the beginner’s mistakes – no technical “how to” tips, I don’t want to call them the “best tricks” and still – or just because of that – you’ll learn a lot if you take them seriously.
These photography tips are more like suggestions on how to adjust your way of thinking to get better photos without having to buy new cameras or other toys.
But be careful – here lies the famous “dog in detail”.
1. Photography tip that saves money: reduce your equipment (and be strict about it)
One of my favorite photography tips with which I start almost every conversation about improvement suggestions, whether in the Shoot camp or elsewhere: Use a camera, a lens, commit to as little as possible and try to get the best out of it.
Photography has been in our pockets since the smartphones and the quality is increasing year by year. More equipment brings more possibilities and therefore more chaos into your head. You lose the focus on the essential and the creativity in the photos sinks instead of rising.
I don’t want to say that you don’t need anything more than the camera in your host bag. But less is more and too much can brake more than it brings. No matter what you have at the moment, it counts what you can do and what you get out of existing equipment.
Whether you choose 1 lens per month or one per year is irrelevant. Don’t walk with too much equipment. Not only does this not necessarily help you to take better photos, but it can also even prevent you from doing so.
Sometimes it is very helpful to limit yourself to one camera with one lens and the basics of the exposure triangle.
If your head says “oh, with THE camera or with THE lens I could …” just slow it down immediately and ask you – what could I do with what I have available?
At this point, I’d also like to briefly mention – Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Leica, … please don’t get carried away into becoming a “religious follower” of a camera brand. There’s so much (mostly nonsense) discussed online and at every corner, there’s someone who can explain to you why the brand he’s using is the only real one.
The only right camera for you is the one that makes you feel comfortable and does what you need.
And again – as we know you always have a camera with you. If you are still looking for the right camera for you, my article with the test might help you.
2. Become a better “storyteller”
Photographers don’t work with cameras. Yeah, sure, we do that because it’s our tool. But just as a chef wouldn’t say he works with knives and pots, but with ingredients and his creativity, so we shouldn’t reduce ourselves to our cameras.
What we really work with, what our actual ingredients are, is limited to light (and we’ll come to that) and telling stories.
A good photo is characterized on the one hand by appealing image design, lighting, image composition, colors (or black and white contrasts), etc. and on the other hand (in my opinion even more important) – it tells a good story.
Whether the expression of a person in a portrait or a reportage photo, even a successful landscape photo, they all ideally tell a story. That can be, but does not have to be “obvious”.
It can also be enough to stimulate the viewer’s imagination so that the photo tells its own story for everyone who sees it.
But in any case, a good picture in any form tells anyone any story 😉
So work on your own storytelling.
Work on realizing for yourself what stories in photos of others appeal to you. Find out why a photo appeals to you or why it doesn’t appeal to you. Discover the storyteller within you and try to incorporate it into your photos.
3. Respect every inconspicuous motive and turn it into a rock star
We talk too often about a lack of motives.
Far too often.
“Well, there just wasn’t anything beautiful” … There are motives everywhere and it is solely up to you and your head what you make of them. The more inconspicuous a motive may be, the more possibility it gives you to grow from it.
Take up the challenge even more if you think the motive is “bad”, or it would not exist at all. There you have the most potential to become a better photographer.
Go with open eyes through the world and find colors, shapes, and motives where others don’t see them. That’s what makes the difference.
The better you practice it, the more your photography will grow. And speaking of “walking” – keep moving. Standing in one place we don’t really see the scenery, only when we move do things come to light that was hidden before.
You don’t find new perspectives by staying in one place and thinking about it, but by moving. To stand still and “zoom” is one of the most painful mistakes for beginners that some people make for a very long time 😉 This is just as true for life as it is for photography.
4. Plunge into the supposed “bad light” and make the best of it
Shootcamper knows how much I insist on it: There is no “bad light”. There is only light!
Lots of light, little light, soft, hard, in all colors and variations. It’s easy to talk about the fact that the light is bad and you can’t do anything about it. But it is also wrong and does not get you any further.
If you can handle your flash properly, then there will never be “bad light” again, because you can make something out of every situation.
And even without lightning, don’t talk about the existing “bad light”.
Just try the opposite.
Challenging light situation? Ask yourself what you could make of the situation anyway (or just because of that). Your camera’s ISO isn’t high enough? Get some light. Maybe a flashlight, a lighter, a smartphone screen … Make the most of the situation and still – or just because of it – a great photo.
5. Category photography tips you probably didn’t expect here: stick your camera screen off!
An exercise and one of my favorite photography tips that I like to pull out of my sleeve during studio workshops.
Unusual, that is clear to me. But it works.
Gaffer tape (or something softer that won’t stick to the camera for years) on the LCD screen and that’s it. (Works of course only with cameras with their own viewfinder 😉 “But … But … I can’t see anything there anymore…” Exactly! You have to think because you can’t see anything anymore 😉
I also regularly “dabble” in it. Because it really helps to change and reverse the thought paths in my head. Of course, it is an advantage to be able to control everything immediately on the screen. But the coziness of DSLR cameras with screen sometimes makes us careless. Just pull the trigger, after all, you can immediately check if the result fits.
If you practice thinking first, thinking about what you’re doing why and then pulling the trigger, you’ll save a lot of time and frustration in photography in the long run.
But honestly, not in every situation, you have “no time to think about the settings beforehand”. Very often you just don’t want to. Do it anyway. It will train your thinking process before pulling the trigger, this will benefit you enormously over time and it will become less and less strenuous. But it makes you a better photographer in the long run.
6. Go to the museum
Look at the pictures of old painters. Photography tips and then Museum? Yes exactly, the great masters could not only handle a brush very well. Just as the camera is the tool for photographers, brushes and paint are the tools of painters. But what they have worked with much more than with brushes is light.
A picture is created with a brush, but the expression is determined by light, which the painter must be able to see and read. The techniques can be learned quite quickly in both cases. What you make out of it is the essential point.
Painters work with light and according to the same design rules as photographers. They can do the same, but they break the same rules deliberately. And they also work a lot with form, information, and emotion in their pictures. You can learn a lot from painters as photographers. And you also learn a little culture, by the way.
7. Buy yourself an analog camera
Too often has this king among the photography tips? Then finally listen to it 😉 Seriously, analog photography is so much fun. I don’t want to say more fun than digital. I also don’t want to get into the “only those who can do analog can really take pictures” – singing.
They are simply nonsense!
But yes, analog photography brings you closer to photography on a slightly different level than digital photography can. Not better, but it’s a great addition, you’ll see. You get to know photography from a different perspective and learn on the technical side how to handle the minimum – aperture, exposure time, ISO and film selection.
This will help you enormously in digital photography and understanding. Analog cameras do not cost much, film and elaboration are also affordable, give it a chance 😉
8. Print your photos
Digital photography is great. We have advantages we didn’t have in the darkroom back then.
In the darkroom, working out an image was a long process. I had to lock myself away in a dark room and after many hours I came out with a handful of photos. In the same time, I can now theoretically edit and “finish” hundreds of photos.
But that’s the point.
We don’t finish our photos if we just edit and use them digitally.
We leave out the most essential part of photography. Namely to take a finished photo.
Saving photos digitally is like putting all the ingredients and the recipe on a plate in a restaurant and serving them to the guest. We wouldn’t do that. So why digital?
If you only finish the photo digitally, you never know what it will look like on the (cheap, not calibrated,…) screen of other people.
If you print (or have printed) your photos, you will see that both for yourself and for people who look at your photos, whether customers, friends, family, the value of the pictures increases again.
9. Photography tips you don’t want to hear: read the manual
Really? Really? Did I really write that? Just the photography tips? Yes. Also in the Shoot camp courses, I urgently recommend to take the instructions to the hand.
Can you learn to take pictures with them? Certainly not.
But it helps enormously if you just know what your camera can and can’t do. And especially where you can find what it can do. That gets you better through point 1 – get the best out of what you already have instead of buying new stuff, -)
And print out this “exposure triangle cheat sheet” and put it in the photo bag. Sometimes it helps to keep the overview 😉 PDF Download
10. The unexpected +1 of my photography tips: Put the camera away!
Absurd tip? Better to photograph by putting the camera away? Ok, of course, that depends a lot on how often you have it in your hand. But if you’re one of those people who take a lot of pictures and just (again) have a phase of standstill – put the camera aside.
Photography means telling good stories in pictures, astonishing people, entertaining them, making them think, bringing them into a moment, in whatever form – touching them. But this also presupposes that one experiences something, is inspired and touched oneself and is stimulated to think.
But that doesn’t happen so much when you’re constantly stuck behind the camera. As much as I love photography, sometimes we both need a break. Exactly when I think in far too many situations of the day “that would be a good picture”. Then it’s time to relive moments that just exist for the moment. And which only remain in the memory.