15 Tips That Will Improve Your Photography


Fifteen tips that’ll improve your
photography! Here we go. I’m gonna start with something everyone
thinks they want to hear, but no one actually wants to hear: Use the camera
you already have. Every mainstream DSLR and mirrorless made within the last 10
years is amazing. You’ll take better pictures if you
master the camera you’ve already got, rather than replacing it with
something else. Now, you’d think that people would like hearing that. Your camera is
good! But what people like hearing even more is, your camera sucks. Because then
they can argue with someone, and they can rally their team members who use the
same camera, and it builds this group camaraderie. So, I hate to break the news,
but the camera that you’ve already got is amazing. Spending your time
researching new cameras, arguing about brands… it will not improve your
photography. If you’re not taking the photos that you want, it’s because you’re
setting the camera incorrectly, or you need to put more time into the creative
side of things. And that’s the key. Use the camera that you’ve already got, and
learn how to set everything correctly. Number two. On the creative side of the
equation, let’s talk about light. Different mood, right? The light in your
photo is never neutral. It always says something. Harsh light, harsh emotions.
Gentle light, gentle emotions. What you should always be doing is thinking about
the light – and also thinking about how it matches, or doesn’t match, the emotions of
your subject. It’s the “Grand Unified Theory of Photography.” When the light and
the subject have unified emotions, your photography will be grand! Was that too
much? It is true, though. Here’s a technical tip: Don’t overexpose the
highlights in your photo. That sounds like it goes without saying, but what I
mean is that if you have the choice between overexposing the highlights and
underexposing the shadows, it’s much better to underexpose the shadows.
Because dark shadows, you can actually recover surprisingly well.
Blown-out highlights are just gone forever. And that’s perfectly fine if
it’s something like the Sun in your photo, where you don’t really need any
highlight detail, but the rest of the time, you’ve got to be really careful
about them. Actually base the rest of your exposure around
preserving the highlights. If you really want to improve your photography,
you cannot just be on autopilot. You’ve got to put thought into your photos. And
that’s both sides of the equation – technical and creative. With your feet to
the fire, is every single camera setting correct? And the same goes for
composition. Is there anything at all that you can still improve? These are not
quick questions to answer. That’s why one of my biggest recommendations is to slow
things down. Maybe you can’t, if you’re doing
something like sports photography, but there’s a direct relationship between
taking your time to get everything right and taking better pictures. Okay, what about using a tripod? When is that going to be a good idea? Well, I would say if
your subject isn’t moving, almost always. Even if your subject *is* moving, you
should still weigh the benefits of a tripod before you leave it at home. And
this is not just about image quality, either – although you will definitely get
better image quality when you use a tripod. It’s also about, previous tip,
taking your time. You have a much better starting point to work from when your
camera is on a tripod. You can set one composition, and then change minor things
about it without a problem. Personally, nine times out of ten, I would
pick an entry-level DSLR with a tripod over the best camera on the market
without one. Next up, when is the best time to use a flash? Maybe when it’s dark,
or you’re doing some clever studio lighting, or maybe when you’re in the
back row of a concert. That one’s wrong. I would argue that the best time to use a
flash, especially the built-in flash on your camera, is on a bright sunny day.
It’s called “fill flash.” What it does is get rid of those harsh shadows. I use it
a lot in macro photography because it’s very common for the subject to have some
dark shadows on it. And then fill flash is also really, really helpful for
outdoor portrait photography. So, just because it’s sunny outside does not mean
that you should put your flash away. A lot of times, it’s actually the exact
opposite. Okay, this is something that I run into a lot as a landscape
photographer – the scene in front of me is amazing, and I get so wrapped up in it
that I just don’t pay attention to anything else. So this next tip has
really helped me out, many, many times: Look behind you. Not right now –
I mean, unless you feel a creeping sense that someone’s watching you – I’m talking
about when you’re out taking pictures. I was in the middle of taking these photos
when I realized that there was a rainbow behind me.
I ran to a spot that I’d scouted out earlier, and I managed to take this
landscape photo. Definitely would have missed this if I hadn’t turned around. A landscape photo is nice. So is a bird photo, or a portrait photo. But are any of
them really successful on their own? The best photos aren’t just nice. They tell a
story. So, which one sounds more interesting to you – a photo taken of sand
dunes on a nice day, or the same composition as a sand storm approaches
and turns everything into a crazy nightmare? That’s why you should capture
your subject doing something. Even something minor, like showing a slight
smile or jumping over a puddle. Or, for landscape photographers, try to capture
your *scene* telling a story – like the sandstorm example, or an amazing cloud
overhead. Either way, photography is all about the story. Keep that in mind. Here’s another tip about camera gear: Keep the front of your lens clean. It’s very basic,
but it’s also genuinely weird how often I see photographers who have just the
dirtiest possible front element. And, in the same category as a dirty lens, is a
low-quality filter. They will really damage your image quality. Geez, this
sounds like an advertisement for a filter company. I’m not trying to sell you
anything! I just want you to improve your photography. Personally, I never use any
UV filter (or clear filter) at all, except in cases where I also need protective
eyewear for whatever I’m photographing. I used to use a cheap UV filter when I was
starting out, and I ruined a couple of good photos that way, so don’t make the
same mistake. Number ten: Move your feet. because sitting too long is bad for you.
Also, this applies to photography. When you’re out taking pictures, a lot of
people’s first instinct is to set up the tripod, set up the camera. Or, just hold
the camera up to your eye and take a picture. But you can do way better than
that. You’ve got to move around. Stand back from your subject; get up close. Move
the camera from eye level to, like, knee level. Seriously,
you’ll get better pictures if you find the perfect position for your camera, and
then match the tripod to that position – not the other way around. Once you’ve
taken the photo, you still have work to do. It’s not as fancy as everything else,
but editing your pictures is a big deal. It helps you guide your viewer’s eye
through the photo and also capture the right emotions. And it’s really easy to
overdo post-processing. I highly recommend being subtle about it – but if
that’s not your style, at least make sure that none of your edits are permanent!
“Save As” rather than “Save” your photos. Or, better yet, do your post-processing in
non-destructive software like Capture One or Lightroom. That way, you’re storing all
your edits in a separate file rather than baking them onto the image. One of
the most important parts of becoming a better photographer is to organize and
back up your photos with a good system. You don’t own your photos. Chaos owns your
photos. The moment that you turn your back, the universe will conspire to
delete every picture that you’ve ever taken. Here’s a test –
do any of your photos have the same file name, number one? And if your house burns
down, God forbid, would you lose all your photos? The answer to both of those
questions should be, “No, of course not, are you crazy?!”
Unfortunately, that’s not the answer that I hear most of the time. And that’s
really one of the biggest differences that I see between professional and
amateur photographers: how they deal with their data. Every photographer out there
has some weak points. Doesn’t matter how good you are – there’s always something
that you can improve. And that’s a good thing! But you’ve got to avoid working
around your weak points. Instead, barrel straight through them. A couple examples.
If you’re trying to wrap your head around camera settings, you should never
fall back and use automatic mode. Or, if you just can’t make the light from your
flash look natural, don’t chicken out and take all your portraits next to a
window. Instead, put the time into learning what you don’t understand. Not
always easy, but you won’t learn anything if all you do is work around your weak
points. Next up, look back through your old photos. If you just watched the
previous tip, and you couldn’t come up with any weak points, here’s a really
good spot to find them. Because everyone takes some photos
that they don’t like. On average, why do your unsuccessful photos not work?
Is it exposure, focus, composition? Whatever it is, that’s useful information.
Also, going through your old photos is great just because you’ll find some good
ones that you totally overlooked earlier. I didn’t notice this photo the first
time around, and now it’s one that I really like. Every single photographer
that I know has the exact same story. The big, gigantic secret of photography is
practice. Practice the things you don’t understand,
and practice the things that you do. That’s how you get better at anything,
not just photography. So, close out of YouTube. Geez, the algorithm’s gonna kill
this video if I say that. Leave YouTube running in the background. Go outside.
Take some pictures. Sure, keep these tips in mind – they’re very good! But
fundamentally, that is how you’re going to improve your photography.

14 Replies to “15 Tips That Will Improve Your Photography”

  1. Nothing new in any of the tips, but always good to hear them now and again until they all become second nature. Especially #15 Practice, Practice , Practice…thanks…

  2. This was honestly the best video about photography I've every watched. It's so refreshing hearing some honest, rational and yet ironic thinking out there. The fact that this channel only has less than 30k subscribers where greedy and pretentious people like many on YT have millions is just criminal.

  3. First I would like to say I truly enjoy your videos and tutorials. They pack plenty information.
    But I'm have trouble with making my photos interesting. I know one of my problems is my settings. I having trouble with choosing the correct ones. Could you please offer any suggestions on this for me? I'm open to any!!

  4. That is a fantastic checklist to taking better images. I need to print it and tape it to my forearm whenever I go shooting. I intuitively do most of that, but I forget something every time I shoot.

    I used to go out and setup in one spot and shoot till the light is gone. Only recently have I made a point to arrive early and scope out several potential comp's and try to shoot images from each. Of course; the light dictates what is shot and when.

    I'm always chasing the light.

    You guys have a fantastic YT channel, thank you for the effort in publishing this content.

  5. Love the channel and your website. You have some absolutely fantastic tips and info for the aspiring photographer.

  6. Hi. Would you like to create absolutely beautiful edits of people and
    portraits in seconds instead of hours? Watch my channel and you will find out everything))

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