Four Simple Tips to Improve Your Art of Photography

Four Simple Tips to Improve Your Art of Photography

In an era where image quality no longer serves as the sole differentiator among photographers due to advancing technology, having the latest and greatest gear no longer gives photographers a drastic upper hand.

This is partially because recent gear is all very good, and there are limitations regarding output and viewing. There still isn’t a monitor that can cater to the amount of megapixels in the files we produce, nor are there many printers and print methods widely available to reproduce such files. With questions on image quality taken away, the focus on what makes a photographer stand out will shift towards the significance of a recognizable style of work, ultimately decided by what they choose to shoot. Therefore, in this article, we will discuss the elements that will help you as a photographer create images that stand out beyond just technical specifications.

Shoot With Presence of Light

First of all, I think we can all agree that images can only happen with the presence of light. If there is no light, there is no photograph. Therefore, it is only logical that we place a strong emphasis on light. Light in photography specifically refers to the quality of light for the subject matter. Good and interesting light can highlight ordinary subjects, adding depth and dimensionality to your photograph. This is because light brings out shadow, and shadow is what provides spatial cues, depth, and contrast in a photograph. When speaking about light and shadow, we should also pay attention to image exposure. As exposure controls what we see or don’t see in the scene, it ultimately also affects the composition and outlook of the entire image. So, the next time before you shoot, keep an eye on interesting light and frame it accordingly; it never fails to make a good image.

Choosing an Interesting Subject

For this part, it is primarily divided into two major parts: subject identification and subject isolation. Firstly, you as a photographer must be able to identify the subject of your interest to photograph. This is because a frame with no clear subject presents no context for the photographer to isolate and make it stand out in the frame, hence causing visual confusion for the viewers to interpret. Just like the importance of light presence in an image, the presence of a subject is also crucially important as it is what a photograph is all about, and the ability to isolate them is equally important.

There are three common ways a photographer can utilize to isolate the subject: luminance contrast from the presence of light and shadow, color contrast with complementary colors, and depth of field. For example, a well-isolated subject will have light shining on the subject you want to highlight and shadow hiding the rest of the image. Or the color of your subject is different enough to stand out compared to the background color. Or the background of your image is blurry enough to make the subject pop. With the right combination of these isolating methods, photographers can easily isolate the subject to produce a decent image with a strong focal point. It is also important to point out that distractions can also be easily removed by applying the same isolation method in reverse.

The One Rule of Composition

While it might be extremely cliché to say you should ignore all the typical rules in composition like the rule of thirds, golden ratio, diagonal lines, etc., these rules are still good to serve as guidelines to achieve balance in your framing. Contrary to choosing an interesting subject to include in your photograph, personally, the one rule in the art of composition lies in the power of consciously choosing what to exclude in your framing while still retaining enough context for the viewer to understand your image. The composition can also be known as the ability to present the subject in a way that is aesthetically pleasing in achieving balance among the chosen elements. Simply put, if an image is balanced, then the viewer’s attention will go straight to the intended area of the frame. If it isn’t balanced, then the photographer can consider moving the position of the camera or changing the subject distance to create better subject isolation and perspective to achieve visual balance. All in all, balance and aesthetics are subjective, and we as photographers should also be daring enough to allow creative freedom to take the front seat in pursuing a greater image output.

The Idea

A solid idea ultimately forms the foundation and objective of an image. That itself explains the importance of having a solid idea of what you would like to portray in your image. The idea, better known as concept, should be both the starting point and goal of an image for you to build your image upon. This way, you can ensure that the subject matter and visual elements chosen to be photographed will be aligned with the intended message while leaving out everything that is irrelevant. Having the ability to pre-visualize the final output in the process of photographing will vastly improve your composition and enhance the overall impact of an image. That being said, the best ideas are clear enough to be understood by a wide variety of audiences yet still leave enough room for slight audience interpretation to keep the idea of the image continuously growing. That is the magical area for creatives and their work. 

In conclusion, advanced photography tools are pretty much accessible to everyone these days, removing the barrier of entry to obtaining great image quality. Shifting the focus in photography nowadays to improving the art of photography and not merely chasing better image quality. The uniqueness in the art of photography is interpreted from a strong personal style, such as a recognizable approach to lighting, composition, subject selection, and core idea, which will pretty much guarantee success for photographers in producing a solid body of work that conveys stories, evokes emotions, and captivates a diverse range of audiences.

Zhen Siang Yang's picture

Yang Zhen Siang is a commercial photographer specialising in architecture, food and product photography. He help businesses to present themselves through the art of photography, crafting visually appealing and outstanding images that sells.

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