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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

            Freelance Writer

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            Last Updated on September 16, 2019

            How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

            How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

            You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

            We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

            The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

            Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

            1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

            Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

            For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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            • (1) Research
            • (2) Deciding the topic
            • (3) Creating the outline
            • (4) Drafting the content
            • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
            • (6) Revision
            • (7) etc.

            Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

            2. Change Your Environment

            Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

            One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

            3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

            Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

            Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

            My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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            Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

            4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

            If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

            Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

            I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

            5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

            I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

            Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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            As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

            6. Get a Buddy

            Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

            I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

            7. Tell Others About Your Goals

            This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

            For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

            8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

            What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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            9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

            If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

            Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

            10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

            Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

            Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

            11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

            At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

            Reality check:

            I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

            More About Procrastination

            Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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