At my recent exhibition titled ‘Photographic Tales from Latin America’ I offered daily talks about ‘How to Improve Your Travel Photography’. During a guided view of the exhibition, I told stories behind the photos, shared my approach and thought process in the run up to capturing a shot, stressed the importance of prior planning, offered guidance on composition and suggested exercises to practice travel photography in the UK.
On my photography workshops, one of the key messages alongside getting up at sunrise (which always receives a mixed response!), is the importance of practice practice practice. I realise this concept is nothing revolutionary, but to make the step from ‘happy snapper’ to ‘photographer’, you will need to dedicate time specifically to improving and developing your photography. Being in a photography frame of mind is crucial, as it requires looking at the world in a different way. Simply taking photos of situations that happen to present themselves to you just won’t cut it!
One of my recommended exercises, prior to even coming on a photography workshop, is to try as many of the suggestions as possible from the list below. Walk around a city, visit a park or explore a market and force yourself to take photos in a way that you are not used to. These are unlikely to be winning images, but by experimenting with these techniques and compositional ideas in a comfortable environment, you then have them in your repertoire for when it matters most.
So… stop reading this blog, print off the list and go for a walk!
- Frame your subject/scene
- Door frames
- Perfect reflections
- Imperfect reflections e.g. abstract reflections from shiny surface
- Double exposure effect where something interesting on both sides of a window.
- Find highest viewpoint in area for aerial/elevated view
- Photograph from directly above – while at ground level
- Look up at subject
- Photograph from ground level – i.e. 1 inch from the ground
- Focus on colours – 1 colour or complimentary colours or subtle shades
- Look for repeating patterns/subjects
- Fill the frame – still needs shape/composition
- Scale – small subject in large landscape
- Leading lines into the frame
- Get close….closer….closer…closer
- Really wide angle close up with something contextual in the background
- Photograph into the sun
- Sun stars by placing on edge of item in the scene
- Flare – different feel by placing sun…
- Just out of the frame
- On edge of the frame
- Just in the frame
- Place sun directly behind subject – silhouettes
- Holding something
- Doing something
- Motion using slow shutter speed
- From side
- From in front
- Following from behind
- Subject blurred, scene sharp
- Photograph from transport with motion in foreground
- Get close to action
- People – feels like you are a part of the scene
- Water in landscape – creates energy
- Look for pairs or threes
- Star trails
- Behind silhouette of very distinct shape
- As part of landscape – focus doesn’t have to be the stars
- Very long exposure during day – 5 minutes+
- Long exposure/slow shutter speed with water – suggested shutter speeds are VERY vague as it is very dependent on the scene, type/quantity of water and how quickly it is moving.
- Very long (4s+) – milky effect
- Medium (1s to 4s) – more directional motion/patterns in rivers and as waves go in and out
- Slow-ish shutter speed (1/4s to 1s) – burst/splash from crashing waves visible
- Tell the story of a person
- Set scene
- Portrait of person
- Detail of action/context
- Focus on element of scene with person in background
- Look up the times of sunrise, sunset and moonrise (best when on coast).
As I continue to write more photography tutorials, I will link to them from the relevant point here, so keep an eye on this page for updates!
Have you got any suggestions to add to the list? Feel free to get in touch in the comment section below.