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10 Powerful Tips To Become A Better Photographer

10 Powerful Tips To Become A Better Photographer

Andy Warhol once said, “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people and things in it do.” And so we capture those images because we then have a memory forever.

For some of us, with the latest technology, photos taken on our iPhones or tablets are enough, because we simply want to keep images of our friends and family or vacations spots – quality is not a big factor.

If, however, you are one of a growing number who have decided to do more with photography, the first steps involve studying composition and experimenting a bit. Here are 10 simple, yet powerful, tips to get you in the groove of taking better shots!

1. Don’t worry about acquiring expensive gear; focus on the learning first.

You need to read, study great photographs and experiment with various techniques that professional photographers talk about. One of the keys to better composition is to avoid putting the primary focus of your picture in the center.

On most digital and iPhone cameras, you will find 2 parallel horizontal lines and 2 vertical parallel lines. They divide the picture into 9 segments.

When you focus your camera on the primary image, don’t put it in the center – move it into one of the other segments. This simple technique will let you frame more intriguing captures.

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 2. Shoot during the Golden Hour

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    Professional photographers claim that many of their best pictures of scenes, from urban to rural, beaches to deserts, are taken shortly after dawn and just before sunset.

    The lighting is the key in this technique. At these times, streams of light do amazing things to buildings, fields, trees, water-scapes, and mountains. Catch those streams with the amazing hues of the sky in the background to get impressive pictures even with simple composition.

     3. Use ugly things as subjects

    Diane Arbus, whose life was cut tragically short, managed to become a top photography artist. Though much of her income came from photo shoots for magazines, she was always drawn to the “ugly” side of life for her personal photographic gratification.

    Try Diane’s idea and learn to shoot aesthetically unappealing objects like a bunch of dirty plastic cups, litter etc. If you learn how to make even those things look pretty on pictures, you can make anything look beautiful!

     4. Deliberately limit yourself

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      When you restrict your gear, you restrict your ability to add lots of variety. Suppose that you left your camera and all of your lenses at home and used only your iPhone.

      This would force you to be far more careful about your composition and angle. Suppose you limited yourself just to city buildings for a week? Or how about a limitation that you can only shoot children on a playground? How would that change your technique and your composition?

      These kinds of restrictions force you to look for the unique shots, and that is a skill that will transfer over when you are not limited.

       5. Take an art class

      Whether its drawing, watercolors, or oils, you need to learn perspective, shading, contrasts, and actually put yourself into a still life, a landscape, or a city street.

      Through such a class, you will come to understand the importance of composition and that will transfer over to your photography. Your technique can be great, but it’s the composition that makes certain pictures magnetizing!

       6. Use a traditional film camera

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        When you are limited to one film with a set number of shots, you will learn to become far more selective. You’ll take time to study your subjects more carefully and will shoot from distances and angles that make sense to you. Forcing yourself to “budget” your shots will increase your sense of discernment.

        7. Study the work of other photographers

        Don’t limit yourself to one venue of photography, but instead make it a goal to “spend time” with a variety of artists – those who photograph only in black and white, who shoot only urban life or pastoral scenes, those who are war photographers and those who shoot single, simple images.

        You can learn from them all. Study the famous black and white photo of the small Vietnamese child covered with napalm and contrast it with a color photo of a woman holding her newborn for the first time. What are the messages in these two shots? What technique is used? What makes them both so alluring?

         8. Move your own positions as you shoot

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          Don’t photograph everything at eye level. Bend to the side, get on a step stool, and lie down on the ground. These are especially great techniques when capturing people or pets from various angles.

          If you have a dog, and that dog is on your couch, don’t shoot down at it – get below your pet and shoot upwards. A Christmas tree, shot from the floor up, looks way more amazing!

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          9. Experiment with new techniques

          You have probably seen hundreds of photographs that are deliberately blurry or that blur out backgrounds or foregrounds. It’s called bokeh and it is a highly effective style when a photographer wants to focus on a single image.

          If, for example, you are shooting a bride and groom outside by a tree, you want to focus on them and the tree. The rest of the landscape should be blurred. If, on the other hand, you want to shoot the Eiffel Tower from a distance, you will want to blur out the foreground, so that your subject becomes the focal point.

          10. Don’t be quick to delete photos you may not like right now

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            You may have taken pictures while experimenting that you really think were “fails.” Here’s the thing about that. As you grow in your mastery, you may re-think some of those images; you may decide that part of a photograph is absolutely screaming at you; you can use technology to alter the picture and end up with a stunning photo after all.

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            Elena Prokopets

            Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on July 10, 2020

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

            We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

            So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

            Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

            What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

            Boundaries are limits

            —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

            Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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            Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

            Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

            Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

            How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

            Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

            1. Self-Awareness Comes First

            Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

            You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

            To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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            You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

            • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
            • When do you feel disrespected?
            • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
            • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
            • When do you want to be alone?
            • How much space do you need?

            You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

            2. Clear Communication Is Essential

            Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

            Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

            3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

            Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

            That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

            Sample language:

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            • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
            • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
            • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
            • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
            • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
            • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
            • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

            Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

            4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

            Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

            Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

            Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

            We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

            It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

            It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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            Final Thoughts

            Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

            Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

            Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

            The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

            Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

            Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

            They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

            Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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