10 Things That You Can Do Today To Be A Better Photographer

by Scott Bourne

posted Monday, June 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM EST

Photofocus-jag-imageI occasionally write posts like this because my main goal is to get people up and off the couch so they can go make pictures. It mostly applies to beginners but even pros can use a refresher once in a while. There’s always an excuse NOT to shoot but if you have something new to think about or try, maybe that will become an excuse TO shoot. So without further introduction, here are 10 things that you can do TODAY (emphasis on TODAY) to be a better photographer.

1. Stick around for 10 minutes AFTER the sunsets. Some of the prettiest light still remains and any subject you photograph during this 10-minute time frame will look great.

2. Stabilizing your camera (preferably with a tripod) is one of the single best things you can do to improve your images.

3. Rent or buy a flash and then use it. Even in broad daylight, a flash can make your images sing. Available light is fine: I consider a flash in my bag to be available light because it’s available to use!

4. Pay attention to your surroundings and conditions. For instance, don’t shoot flowers on a windy day. They will be moving and impossible to isolate.

5. If you must shoot in JPEG mode, don’t rely on auto white balance. You can always correct the white balance of a RAW image but when shooting JPEG it’s baked in. So make sure it’s right from the start.

6. Don’t be afraid to shoot in the rain. Rain is nature’s cleansing agent. Shooting right after it rains can bring some of the most rewarding images.

7. Control what the viewer of your photos sees first. Decide what’s important by making your subject prominent in the scene and remember the eye is always drawn to the brightest, whitest thing in the photo first; if that’s not your subject, start over.

8. On days when the sun is high and harsh, place your subject in the shade. Make sure it’s even shade. The open sky will act as a main light and the results will be better than if you leave them in the sun.

9. Don’t shoot in mixed or dappled light. Put the subject 100% in the shade or 100% in the sun. Don’t let them overlap because it’s distracting.

10. Remember the three basics to getting a good shot; or what I call SAS. Concentrate on the (S)UBJECT, then see how you can draw (A)TTENTION to that subject. Then (S)IMPLIFY by making sure nothing is in the shot that will distract: SAS.

(Scott Bourne is the founder of Photofocus.com, an online photography magazine. Visit Photofocus for a variety of interesting and entertaining articles, photo product reviews, and the Photofocus podcast, released on the 5th, 15th and 25th of each month!)