As a beginner at photography I am not approved whatsoever to write this post. Yet, I will. So please feel free to leave a comment of disapproval and criticism of my supercilious approach.
Without further ado, let us explore 10 peculiar, unusual tips that you can use (and which I am going to use or have used) to get better at photography.
1. Make ugly things look beautiful
("the bottles of yesteryear" by Durek Durczak)
This is also the number one point made by Yi Chen in her article. Which is oh so appropriate to be point #1.
If you, my friend, can make even the ugly things look beautiful, you can make ANYTHING look fabulous.
Remember in the film “Perfume: The story of a murderer” Jean-Baptiste Grenouille was walking through the streets of Paris and taking in all the smells? Both the horrible odors and the pleasant scents. He did not differentiate. He enjoyed both. Be like him.
Try taking pictures of ugly things for one whole day. Explore everything. Love everything. Be the “perfumer” of photography.
2. Catch an unplanned happy moment
("Fanny Ardant" by Anne Lily)
You know what I mean. That lovely moment when your gramps suddenly laughs out loud and his wrinkles deepen, his eyes squint. The moment when friends pat each other on the back and lean forward laughing at a joke someone just told. When a singer suddenly smiles in the middle of the song when the audience cheers. You know the drill. Snap that moment.
This will teach you to always keep your eyes open, to be fast and to be “natural”. To “learn people”. To not only take pictures of frozen, artificial smiles and poses.
Try snapping as many of such moments as possible during a whole day. Take your camera with you everywhere. Pay attention. Keep looking around you.
3. Make shots from unconventional angles
("The Inner Side of Casa Mila" by Brian FurBush)
Making yourself uncomfortable while taking photos is sometimes necessary. Embrace that. Something simple, even something cliché will look out of the ordinary and original just because you tilted your camera, or stood up on your chair (or on a roof).
Take a day finding interesting angles and shoot.
4. Do “special” portraits
("Sir Winston Churchill, The Roaring Lion" by Yousuf Karsh)
“I waited; he continued to chomp vigorously at his cigar. I waited. Then I stepped toward him and, without premeditation, but ever so respectfully, I said, “Forgive me, sir,” and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera, he looked so belligerent he could have devoured me. It was at that instant that I took the photograph.” - Yousuf Karsh
That is the story of one of the most iconic, one of the most widely reproduced images in the history of photography. That photograph of Winston Churchill made Yousuf Karsh, an Armenian photographer, widely famous.
First and foremost, my photographer friend, this should serve you as an example of a “special” portrait. “Special” not in the sense that you should take pictures of celebrities, but rather that you should fish out the character of your subject and let it show in your photograph. Let the person speak without speaking. It is hard, for sure! Yet, try and try and try to let the person’s soul speak. And thou shalt be rewarded.
5. Tell a story
("rose" by Benjamin Goss)
Scott Bourne once wrote an article: “Want to be a better photographer? Be a better writer”. It sums up a wonderful way of letting people “see” a story.
You see, photos like to speak for themselves. So instead of allowing it speak in jimbo-jambo-spanky-doodle, teach your photograph a proper language. Make people who look at your photograph sit down and tell them a story. Not literally of course.
In other words, look for stories, write them with your camera.
6. Love the Golden hour
("golden hour" by me)
His royal highness the Golden Hour is the time around sunset and sunrise that makes the most dramatic natural light for photography. The world suddenly illuminates itself and life becomes so much more pleasant.
When you suddenly see it grab your camera and aim for the sun.
7. “Chaos” and Minimalism
("Same Tree Different Day" by Loren Zemlicka)
("Vintage/ People" by Andrew)
Both are good. Both are spectacular. Both should be equally respected. Sometimes a line is just a line and it is just amazing that way. And clutter of colors and shadows is what it makes things too lively and beautiful.
For minimalism: Take your photography minimalism to another level by concentrating on just one subject.
If you include just one subject, than viola! the eye of your spectator will be drawn to that one element. Dramatic, isn’t it?
For chaos: A photo that has multiple photos within itself. Meaning: you can crop it at different parts and still have a “whole” shot.
Try both! Have fun!
8. Colors !!!
("A different light" by J.R.)
There is this theory that people that are used to black and white pictures don’t like to go back to colors. But, let me emphasize the unique opportunity you have to show a whole different world with colors. If the above case sort of refers to you as well, then don’t be scared. You won’t lose your style. You’ll find a different part of yourself. The key is to use colors smartly. And not trashy. Let them be soft at first. Love colors.
Try taking only colorful pictures for a whole day.
9. Play with the classics
(by Maxim Chelak)
Though shalt love the classics. Those are the basics, man… Learn it. Experience it. Then experiment and play.
They are right sometimes when they say that nothing can beat a classic Black and White. Somehow with two colors you emphasize too many things. So much that colors seam inappropriate. So much that you feel the photograph has a soul.
Take black and white pictures for a whole day.
10. Shadows. Enough said.
("Igor" by Daniele Franceschi )
Nothing can be as dramatic. As important. Shadows make things move. Both on the photo, and deep inside you.
Somehow, they are always there. Emphasize them.
Now take your camera and go with peace.