40 Tips to Take Better Photos

Invaluable advice for the beginning photographer

Kearsarge Pinnacles by Moonlight

Many years ago when I was a starry-eyed undergrad I would ask every photographer I came across the same question:

“How do I take better photos?” 

I was extremely lucky to have many talented and generous photographers take me under their wing to show me the ropes. Without their valuable advice there is no way I would have become the photographer I am today. 

Ironically, the number one question I now get asked as an Open producer is “How do I take better photos?” 

So along with some tips that I’ve picked up over the years, I’ve recruited some outstanding snappers across Australia to share their own secret techniques about how they take their photos to the next level. 

1. Get in close

It was the famous photojournalist Robert Capa who once said “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” He was talking about getting in amongst the action. If you feel like your images aren’t ‘popping’, take a step or two closer to your subject. Fill the frame with your subject and see how much better your photo will look without so much wasted space. The closer you are to the subject, the better you can see their facial expressions too. 

2. Shoot every day

The best way to hone your skills is to practice. A lot. Shoot as much as you can – it doesn’t really matter what. Spend hours and hours behind your camera. As your technical skills improve over time, your ability to harness them to tell stories and should too. 
Don’t worry too much about shooting a certain way to begin with. Experiment. Your style – your ‘voice’ – will emerge in time. And it will be more authentic when it does. — Leah Robertson

Leah Robertson is a super talented Melbourne based photographer and videographer, specialising in music and documentary photography.You can see her work here.

3. See the light

Before you raise your camera, see where the light is coming from, and use it to your advantage. Whether it is natural light coming from the sun, or an artificial source like a lamp; how can you use it to make your photos better? How is the light interacting with the scene and the subject? Is it highlighting an area or casting interesting shadows? These are all things you can utilise to make an ordinary photo extraordinary. 

4. Ask permission

When photographing people, especially while in countries with different cultures and languages, it can be hard to communicate. In certain countries if you photograph someone you are not ‘supposed’ to photograph, it can get ugly and rough very quickly if you are not careful. So out of respect you should always ask permission. 

I have started shooting a series of school children in Pakistan. These are all posed portraits and they are looking down the lens. My guide helps me with the language and I limit myself to smiling, shaking hands, giving ‘hi-five’ and showing them the image on the back of my camera once it is done. You would be amazed how quickly people open up. — Andrea Francolini 

Andrea Francolini is a well known Italian born, Sydney based sports photographer. He is also the founder of My First School, as trust which has the aim to facilitate educations in Northern Pakistan. You can see his work here.

5. Use flash during the day

You might think that you should only use flash at night time or indoors, but that’s not the case at all. If it is an extremely bright day outside and the sun is creating harsh shadows on your subject, switch on your flash. By forcing extra light onto your subject, you will be able to fill in those ugly shadows and create an even exposure. 

6. ISO

There are questions to ask yourself when deciding what ISO to use: 

What time of day are you shooting? If you are shooting outside during the middle of the day you will need to use a lower ISO such as 100 or 200. If you are shooting at night time without a tripod you will have to increase the ISO to a higher number to be able to record the light on the camera’s sensor.

Will the subject be well lit? If your subject or scene is too dark you will need to use a higher ISO such as 800 or 1600. 

Do you want a sharp image or an image with more movement in it? Using a high shutter speed to capture fast movement might mean that you need to use a high ISO to compensate. Likewise, if you’re using a slow shutter speed to capture blur you will need a low ISO to compensate. 

Don’t forget, increasing your ISO increases the grain or pixel size in your photo. So don’t use an ISO of 3200 or 6400 if you don’t want a photo with a lot of ‘digital noise’.

7. f/4

f/4 is my ‘go to’ aperture. If you use a wide aperture with a long lens (200mm-400mm) you’re able to separate the subject from the background. This helps them stand out. Works every time. — Peter Wallis

Peter Wallis is a sports photographer extraordinaire, working for The Courier Mail in Brisbane. You can see his work here.

8. You’ve got to be joking

A well timed joke will always yield a more natural smile, than simply saying “smile” — Dean Bottrell

Dean Bottrell is a Emerald based photographer who specializes in portraiture. You can see his work here.

9. Buy books, not gear

Having expensive camera equipment doesn’t always mean that you’ll take good photos. I’ve seen some absolutely amazing images shot with nothing more than a smart phone. Instead of having ten different lenses, invest in some fantastic photography books. By looking at the work of the masters, not only do you get inspired, you come away with ideas to improve your own photos.

10. Read your camera’s manual

The best way to know what to do with your camera is to actually read the manual. So many people miss this really important step on their photographic journey. Every camera is different, so by reading the manual you’ll get to know all the funky things it’s capable of. 

11. Slow down

Take time to think about what is going on in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter. How are you going to compose the shot? How are you going to light it? Don’t jump straight in without giving it some thought first. — Brad Marsellos

Brad Marsellos is the Wide Bay über Open producer. You can see his photos, videos and musings on life here.

12. Stop chimping (checking the photo on the back screen) 

It’s a bad habit digital photographers can develop. Time and time again I see photographers take a photograph and then look at the back of the screen straight away. By doing that you could miss all the special moments. You can look at your photos later. You can miss ‘the shot’ and it affects the flow of your work, so just keep shooting! – Marina Dot Perkins

The lovely Marina Dot Perkins is a news, travel and wedding photographer who worked for The Canberra Times and is now based in Newcastle.

13. Framing

This is a technique to use when you want to draw attention to something in your photograph. By framing a scene or a subject, say with a window or an archway, you lead the viewer’s eye to the primary focal point.

14. Shape with light

Never shoot with the sun directly behind you. It creates boring, flat light on the subject. If you shoot with the light source to the side or behind the subject, you are able to shape with the light, creating a more interesting photo. — Patria Jannides

Patria is not only a talented news photographer, she is also my long term friend, mentor, and personal cheer squad. She even helped me to land my first job as a paid photographer. Thanks for everything P xxx

15. Watermarks

This tip isn’t in direct relation to TAKING photos, but it does affect the look of photos. When it comes to watermarks, the smaller the better. And if you can avoid using them, do.

Chances are, unless you are a paid professional, there’s not much of a chance of your photos getting nicked. But in reality, they won’t prevent your images from getting stolen. They only distract from the fabulous image that you’ve created, because once you’ve slapped a watermark all over it, that’s all the viewer will be looking at. The only way you can prevent your images from being stolen is to not publish them on the internet. 

Read Open producer Luke Wong’s blog post on watermarks here.

16. Be present

This means make eye-contact, engage and listen to your subject. With the eyes – lower that camera and be human. Bring the camera up for a decisive shot. But remember to lower it, like you’re coming up for air, to check in with your subject. Don’t treat them like a science experiment under a microscope. Being there with your subject shows them respect, levels the playing field in terms of power dynamics, and calms them down. You’ll get much more natural images this way. — Heather Faulkner 

Heather Faulkner is a photographer who convenes the ePhotojournalism major at QCA, Griffith University. She is also the executive director of The Argus, a student-run, visual journalism online magazine. See her personal work here.

17. Shutter speed

Being aware of your shutter speed means the difference between taking a blurry photo and a sharp photo. It all depends on what you are after. If you are shooting a sporting event or children running around in the backyard, you probably want your subjects to be in focus. To capture fast action you will have to use a shutter speed over 1/500th of a second, if not 1/1000th to 1/2000th. On the opposite end of the scale, you might want to capture the long streaks of a car’s tail lights running through your shot. Therefore you would change your camera’s shutter speed to a long exposure. This could be one second, ten seconds, or even longer. 

18. Charge your batteries

This seems like a simple one, but pretty much every photographer on the face of the planet has been caught out before. Including myself. The trick is to put the battery onto the charger as soon as you get home from your photo shoot. The only thing then is to make sure you remember to put it back into the camera after it has been recharged… 

19. Focal length

Keep it simple. I shoot with two prime lenses and one camera; A 28mm and a 35mm. For everything. I use the 35mm lens 70% and the 28mm lens 30% of time. It takes some time to get used to it, but once you work it out, shooting primes is the only way to go. It means you have to work with what you have and you can’t be lazy. Basically, this means more pictures and less fiddling around with zooming and maybe missing moments. It also helps for consistency. If you’re working on a project or a series, keeping the same focal lengths is a great way to maintain a powerful sense of consistency. — Justin Wilkes

Justin Wilkes quit his job in Sydney this year to cover the political and social change in post revolution Egypt. He has since had his photographs published in The New York Times, TIME magazine, and The Jakata Globe to name but a few. You can see his amazing documentary work here.

20. Be part of a photographic community

Like ABC Open! Not only will you be able to publish your photos for the rest of the country to see, you’ll be part of an active group that offers feedback on how great you are going. You can learn new things to help you improve your technique, and you might even make some new photography buddies.

21. Shoot with your mind

Even when you’re not shooting, shoot with your mind. Practice noticing expressions and light conditions. Work out how you’d compose a picture of that scene over there that interests you, and what sort of exposure you might use to capture it best. — Leah Robertson

22. Return the favor

Always remember that if you are shooting people in a different country, they are probably doing you a favor by posing. So the least you can do is return this favor some way or another.

I often return to the same places year after year, so I bring along prints and look for the people I photographed previously. In some areas people do not have a picture of themselves. Imagine not having a picture of you and your family? Strange don’t you think? Yet many people don’t. So a $0.50 print can really make someone happy. It also opens doors for more photography further down the track. — Andrea Francolini 

23. Have a camera on you at all times

You can’t take great photos if you don’t have a camera on you, can you? DSLR, point-and-shoot or smart phone, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you have access to a camera, you’re able to capture those spontaneous and unique moments in life that you might have otherwise missed. 

24. The golden hour

Shoot portraits and landscapes in the golden hours — the light is softer and the colours are more vibrant. — Dean Bottrell 

25. Keep it simple

Don’t try to pack too many elements into your image; it will just end up looking messy. If you just include one or two points of interest, your audience won’t be confused at where they should be looking or what they should be looking at. 

26. Don’t get bogged down by equipment

We’ve all seen these types of photographers out and about. They usually have three or four different cameras strapped around their necks with lenses long enough for an African safari. In reality, there’s probably no need for all that equipment. One body with one or two lenses means that you’ll be freer in your movements to capture interesting angles or subjects on the move. 

27. Perspective

Minimize the belly-button photograph. This is a reference to Moholy Nagy of the Bauhaus movement in photography (which was all about lines of perspective). In other words, perspectives are more engaging when we crouch down, or lie down, or elevate our position in reference to the subject. Look at how changing your perspective can change the visual language and implied power dynamics of the image. Crouching low can make your subject more dynamic, whereas gaining height on your subject can often minimize their presence in the image. One of my favorite exercises is to make my students lie down and take pictures, often in the dirt. I am a little cheeky. — Heather Faulkner 

28. Be aware of backgrounds

What’s in your frame? So often I see great photos and think “didn’t they see that garbage bin, ugly wall, sign, etc?” It’s not just the person or object in your frame, it’s everything else in the background that can make or break a great photograph. So don’t be afraid to ask the person to move (or move yourself) to avoid something ugly in the background. — Marina Dot Perkins

29. Shade

Shade can be your best friend. If there is no way you can make the available light work for your photo, shoot in the shade. You’ll get a nice even exposure with no patchy highlights throughout your shot.

30. Rule of Thirds 

This is one of the most common tips that pop up when it comes to improving your photos.

To break it down, you cut your frame into thirds by using both horizontal and vertical lines. You then place your point of interest over the cross sections of the grid.

Check out this article for further details about using the rule of thirds.

31. Exposure 

I’ve been shooting a lot of protests lately. Basically, they’re just a lot of people really close to one another; often moving. After having made many mistakes with getting my exposures right, I worked out that if the sun is behind me and in the face of protestors I will set exposure compensation to underexpose by a stop to bring out even tonal range. When the sun is behind the protestors I like to over expose just slightly to bring out the shadow details on their faces. This could apply to street photography when the light is in front or behind your subject. — Justin Wilkes

32. Don’t spend too much time post-processing

The key is to get it right in the camera first, so you don’t HAVE to spend time editing. Over working a photo in editing software very rarely looks good, unless you are trying to achieve a super-artsy effect. If it takes you longer than ten minutes to alter your photo, maybe think about going back out into the field to re-shoot it. 

33. Variation

Variation is key. I often use a recipe from Life Magazine picture editors for building a story narrative. I look for: over-all shots or scene-setters, interaction, action, portraits, details, medium shots and of course the signature image. Having this list in my head helps me start photographing a story that sometimes isn’t visually apparent until you get into it. This is great when you’re in a crowded or busy place. — Heather Faulkner

34. Become one with the camera

Push the button regardless of the outcome so the camera becomes part of your hand. — Dean Saffron

Dean Saffron is a photojournalist and an ABC Open superstar. His video The Spokesman, has had over 170,000 views. Woah!

35. Hold your camera properly

You might not know it, but there is a right way and a wrong way to hold a DSLR camera. The correct way is to support the lens by cupping your hand underneath it. This is usually done with the left hand, with your right hand gripping the body of the camera. This helps to prevent camera shake. If you are gripping your camera with your hands on either side of the camera body, there is nothing supporting the lens, and you might end up with blurry photos. To get an even stabler stance, tuck your elbows into the side of your body.

36. Limit your palette 

When photos have too many colours spewing out from them, they’re often hard to look at. Unless it’s a photo of a rainbow or the Mardi Gras. Try to focus on having one or two colours predominately featuring in your photograph. It will be more pleasing to the eye and will help set the tone of the image. 

37. Get your subject to relax 

This applies mostly to portrait style photography. As a press photographer, I spend most of my time doing one on one portrait shoots. I think it’s really beneficial to take the time (if you have it) talking to your subject, asking questions, showing an interest in whatever it is they do. I find it really helpful in relaxing the person and often they’ll say something and that can lead to a better photo opportunity. — Marina 
Dot Perkins

38. Inspiration from all forms

Take in as much photography as you can – online, and in books and magazines. But not passively. Look at different styles. Work out what you like or don’t like about them. Look at the technical elements of pictures and think about how they were made, and what the photographer is trying to say. The more you take in, the more arsenal you’ll have when creating your own work. — Leah Robertson

39. Be patient and persevere 

With time, patience, and perseverance, you will get better; with each and every photo you take.

40. Break the rules

Now that you know some of the rules, go ahead and break them! Experiment. Have fun. Learn from your mistakes. Make up your own tips and techniques for taking fantastic photographs. I’d love to hear them.

Go forth and shoot!

A special thank you to all the amazing photographers who made this blog post possible.

About the author: Lisa Clarke is a photojournalist based out of the Capricornia region of Australia.

In the past five years Lisa has contracted dengue fever in Indonesia, broken her big toes climbing the summit of Mt Fuji in Japan, snapped British chef Gordon Ramsey in a Thai transsexual bar, been bed ridden with bacterial conjunctivitis in Burma, partied with Dennis Rodman, hung out the door of more helicopters than she would like to remember, thrown up violently with food poisoning in Cambodia, and was detained by the police in Zimbabwe for practicing journalism without accreditation during the Mugabe reign in 2007.

You can follow her ongoing exploits on Twitter. This article was originally published on ABC Open.

About ABC Open: ABC Open invites regional communities to produce and publish photos, stories, videos, and sound through the ABC.

We all know the media is changing, with more and more people making their own videos, writing stories and sharing photos and ideas through social media. ABC Open is an exciting initiative which provides a focal point for Australian regional communities who want to get involved in sharing their experiences through the ABC via websites, radio and TV.

Image credits: Kearsarge Pinnacles by Moonlight by Jeff Pang

  • kkartphoto

    404 on the link for ABCopen!

  • DLCade

    Fixed! Thank you for pointing that out :)

  • Feroz Khan

    The link to Peter Wallis’ website doesn’t seem to be the right one (point 7)

  • Poki

    Don’t spend more than 10 minutes to post-process a photo? This does definitely not apply to all types of photogrpahy. I shoot landscapes for years now and spent more than 10 hours on some photos (for example the one attached here) to fine tune every pixel to my liking, and I wouldn’t call the outcomes as “could be shot better by going out and shooting them again” …

    Though all in all, that’s a nice list for beginners.

  • DLCade

    It is, his website is just down at the moment :)

  • Christian DeBaun

    • All the amateurs care about, is the equipment.
    • All the pros care about, is being paid.
    • All the masters care about, is the light.

    I can’t remember where I read that (it was years ago), but it’s fairly true. Somehow it stuck with me.

    GREAT article Lisa!

  • Rezaul Haque

    Excellent list! I’ve been struggling with the idea of watermark for a while now. I’ve used a very subtle small one in the corner of the image, just to tell people I took the picture. Now I’m starting to doubt the cost of the watermark, if it distracts the viewer from fully enjoying the image. Thoughts?

  • Poki

    Might be just me, but I HATE watermarks. If I see a photo with a watermark, I just ignore it. Somehow, these little watermarks always catch my eye so I can’t really concentrate on the photo itself …

  • kodiak xyza

    « The key is to get it right in the camera first, so you don’t HAVE to spend time editing. »

    unrelated, in that editing should be about the vision/idea of how to present the photo,
    and that should take as long as it need… spend the time required.

    getting it right in the camera can still demand a bit of editing:
    if one uses the camera as a recorder that maximizes what one wants to get,
    versus using a “Straight Out of The Camera” mantra that can limit the results.

    yes, yes, the idea is not to let sloppiness cause more editing time for that sloppiness:
    but isn’t that obvious for everything one likes to do well?

  • kodiak xyza

    work hard at coming up with one that leaves a trail of who took the photo, and a web search can find you,
    but minimizes its interaction with the viewer. in other words: don’t dial it to “11”.

    using the watermark as “theft-prevention” is shortsighted, and likely, quite ineffective.
    a better strategy may be to upload “small” (say 800 pixels),
    and use JPG compression to detract from up-sizing.
    many uses of the photos is for reblogging, and most may not remove the watermark,
    but that is also not a guarantee.

    I personally think of the watermark as a way for someone to trace it back to me,
    if they would like to use my services, and not for photo theft prevention:
    the way I see it, once in the internets I don’t have control over it,
    and just let it be — hence why I take prevention with the size and compression distortions.

    some people will move on at the site of the watermark… and that is fair,
    but then, from my perspective: so what?

  • don_travis

    One important tip is left out. The half press. You half press the shutter button and verify you have the camera focusing on what you want focused, and the verify settings the camera has decided to use for this shot. Then very lightly squeeze down the rest of the way on the shutter button. This is especially important on many less expensive digital cameras that don’t process their settings in nano-seconds and have enough of a delay between initial press and actual photo that a person could press and then move the camera slightly before it is done – and wonder why it is blurry. Hence the second step, of a slow squeeze and not a “snap” shot. Pushing it quickly does not make the shutter work faster, it only introduces camera motion, even if very slight.

  • Felix Flatter

    Well, I like the list, but there is one thing that does not really come out in the first point. Yes, Capa said that sentence, but he actually did not mean the physical distance to your subject, but your emotional involvement in the action. If your images do not look like you want them to look, or they do not tell the viewer what you want them to tell, you need to get a closer relationship with your subject.
    Of course, in most situations it is better to get also physically close, but sometimes you may need some distance.

  • Espen

    I don’t agree with you. 10 hours?? I don’t mind your photo, but if you have to use all that time to be happy with it you would probably be better of with a scene that was more to your liking before pushing the button. I also don’t mind people using a lot of time fiddling around with stuff for their own pleasure, but please be aware that you in that case are feeding your own “OCD” more than adding value to the picture for other viewers.

    If you have an idea of the outcome before shooting, or at least before going to post, you can save yourself a lot of time spent on trial and error wich I suspect you do.

  • Espen

    should have added the ten golden rules of lomography on the list. Sometimes overthinking a picture completely destroys both the picture and the fun making it.

  • Norshan Nusi

    I have some thoughts over some of the list…

    12. Stop chimping (checking the photo on the back screen) 

    Using a fast lens, I have to chimp. Had to zoom in to check the area in focus. I don’t trust the camera LCD screen all the time, a lot of slightly blurred pictures look sharp on the camera LCD screen.

    35. Hold your camera properly~

    Use “one-over-the-focal-length” rule to ensure sharper picture, combined with image stabilization, you can go a few stops lower and still get that shot in low light.

  • JH

    10 Hours? Really?

  • Friedrich

    Yeah, a list for people who’ve never picked up a camera. And #32 is flat out WRONG. Post processing is just as important as capturing the image in the first place.

  • Cynical Bloke

    10 hours? Were you painting in the stars?

  • Omar Salgado

    “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” This is all way misunderstood.

    It is not about “filling the frame” or “[t]he closer you are to the subject, the better you can see their facial expressions too.” No way. It is about an epistemological distance on the subject, not a spatial one. Indeed, it is about knowing your subject well in its inner aspects and its contextual aspects too. This knowledge can only be accessed by time and relationship, not by distance.

    You may get those “expressions” and even those wrinkles by filling the frame, but never ever a “true” representation of the subject apart from what you want, desire or need.

    The best advice I can give is: learn Art (as well as the very technical aspects of the apparatus). Photography will naturally improve.

  • Poki

    It’s not about adding value ‘for other viewers’, it’s about being happy with what I produce myself. I don’t shoot to satisfy others, but to be happy with me. I liked the scene like it was (took me a few hours to get to the shooting position), and I didn’t add anything in post, it’s just about delivering the best photo that’s possible for me. And while I might not be a great photographer, I had fun every minute I spent on that, or any other photo. Isn’t that what it’s about for hobbyists?

  • Poki

    Thank you for that explanation! First time I read an explanation of the famous quote that actually makes totally sense.

  • Poki

    Nope, stopped painting in stars myself two years ago. ;)

  • Poki

    Maybe just 6. Or 7. Don’t know exactly anymore. But 10 sound better as it’s the number used in the article.

  • Sarpent

    Every time that I hear a supposed authority say “Stop chimping,” I lose a little respect for that “authority.” That word needs to be removed from the photographer’s vocabulary. If you are taking an important photo, before you walk away, check your histogram. Then, zoom in on the image and check the focus. These two steps can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful image. I have had absolutely ruined “good shots” because I didn’t realize that the focus was a little off until I was looking at the results on my computer.

  • Sarpent

    I’m with you, Poki. I am not a photojournalist. I’m trying to create art, and I’ll spend the time necessary to make an image as good as I can. To me, the real fun begins when the image first hits my monitor.

  • Alan Klughammer

    There are a few of these I don’t agree with.

  • Alan Klughammer

    There are obviously a number of approaches to photography, but I think there are two extremes. For want of better terms, I will call them Journalism and Art.
    For Journalism, the purpose is to record a thing or an event. The idea is to keep as true to life as possible. Many of the tips above lean toward this type of photography; minimal processing, carry your camera everywhere, etc.
    Art photography is more about creating emotion, especially with your viewers. Post processing becomes a big part of this. Ansel Adams and his contemporaries spent hours in the darkroom “manipulating” their final images. Andreas Gursky, who sells some of the most expensive photographs ever, does extensive post processing.
    There is no right or wrong answer. Post process as appropriate for your style and approach to photography. Don’t limit yourself to too little or too much manipulation.

  • James

    Yeah I thought the same. Sounds like someone shoots Jpeg.

  • Vin Weathermon

    Excellent article; I agree with #15 and it is a personal pet peeve; watermarks are useless and distracting (if the image is good enough to present.) If the best photographers in the world don’t watermark, why should anyone else? (exception being online proofs if you are selling that way, and it needs to be smack dab in the middle where it makes the image useless.)

  • Vin Weathermon

    I replied to the watermark comment too; HATE them. They do far more harm than good if it is important for the image to “look beautiful”.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I understand why you think that, and that’s why I used to do it too. However; if you really care about your image, you will present it in the best way possible (online portfolio, gallery, etc.) Your “selling” of the artist happens THERE if you are trying to project the most artistic, professional work. And anything detracting from that is madness.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I think he means exactly what he says; if you are taking “human interest” photos, being with humans makes them more impactful. You may do this with long lenses, etc. but you have to consciously move in to be a part of it. It takes guts, and practice.

  • Vin Weathermon

    The point was to not OVER PROCESS, not spend the appropriate amount of time rendering a raw file. If you spend more time practicing, getting the shot to be “excellent without post processing” then your post-processing will be minimal. I have spent way too much time trying to make an image into something that in the end I probably should have just chucked and reshot later. Mistakes take lots of post processing….and if I make fewer of them I’m having more fun in post.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I have an 85mm f1.2 that is a bear to get sharp with such a thin DOF; it has taken me months to get the feel for this lens and now I love it. It was only through lots of practice though. Even “chimping” didn’t help nail it. Maybe the point is you will miss an opportunity to shoot if you are always looking at your playback.

  • kodiak xyza

    agreed. while chimping may be condescending associated with “people not knowing what they are doing”, one of the gains of digital photography is to have immediate feedback on exposure and focus. histograms are ever so important, and most people I talk to are so “afraid” of them.

  • kodiak xyza

    yes, but “bird in hand” and all of that. we are constantly missing stuff, and so one should not be in fear of what one is missing, but rather make sure that we actually have is to our satisfaction.

  • kodiak xyza

    well said.
    photography-by-aphorisms, which usually are deprived from the context of what the famous photographer was doing, is a problem with quick-by-the-numbers articles to teach the masses about photography — or any art/craft.

    then again, it is the responsibility of the reader to assimilate what is read, and not to go and make a list and check it twice.

  • kodiak xyza

    (somehow the reply disappeared)

    I can care about my photo in such a way… and skip the watermark for presentation in its true form,
    and in that sense, I agree with you. damned be the grabs by people on the internets.
    (I already do not care for the grabs for people’s usage, just trying to leave a breadcrumb, if allowed.)

    however, I do not see the internet as the best/appealing way to present my photos.
    for me, the internet is a way to: 1) get the photos out and think about them**;
    2) use them for social-currency, which is the most prevalent usage of photos in the internets;
    3) satisfy the demand by close friends to make my work easily accessible to them***.
    in some sense, I am not trying to sell myself on the internets in any proactive way.

    there can be some passive activity — which comes from watermarking and/or my sites,
    and adding tags that would turn up in some searches — but this is not something that I pursue.
    I personally couldn’t care less what the “world’s best photographers****” are doing,
    regarding watermarking, because I am not trying to indoctrinate myself into such a circle:
    I do not know who these people are and I am not going to follow someone blindly.
    not really into indoctrinating myself by copying, and following unknown people on the internet.

    thanks for the alternate idea. cheers!


    ** my thoughts are of the internet as part of my “workflow” are on my blog,
    liminaleye dot com.

    *** this is why I prefer Dunked and VSCO Grid: no social passive-aggressive comments,
    nor social quid pro quo required (faves, likes, etc.)

    **** I have yet to see a collection on the internet of the “world’s best photographers”,
    in that their attitudes are caring about things I don’t,
    and/or the curator of such a list really does a poor job of it.
    often, they are replications of one or two photographers on the list.

    the ones that I have seen is just a circle jerk, and hype inside a bubble.

  • kodiak xyza

    @vinweathermon:disqus : sorry for the spamming of emails due to my posting, but the post keeps getting deleted, perhaps some quirk from Disqus, or settings — so I reply here, rather than below.

    I can care about my photo in such a way… and skip the watermark for presentation in its true form, and in that sense, I agree with you. damned be the grabs by people on the internets. (I already do not care for the grabs for people’s usage, just trying to leave a breadcrumb, if allowed.)

    however, I do not see the internet as the best/appealing way to present my photos. for me, the internet is a way to: 1) get the photos out and think about them**; 2) use them for social-currency, which is the most prevalent usage of photos in the internets; 3) satisfy the demand by close friends to make my work easily accessible to them***. in some sense, I am not trying to sell myself on the internets in any proactive way.

    there can be some passive activity — which comes from watermarking and/or my sites, and adding tags that would turn up in some searches — but this is not something that I pursue. I personally couldn’t care less what the “world’s best photographers****” are doing, regarding watermarking, because I am not trying to indoctrinate myself into such a circle: I do not know who these people are and I am not going to follow someone blindly. not really into indoctrinating myself by copying, and following unknown people on the internet.

    thanks for the alternate idea. cheers!


    ** my thoughts are of the internet as part of my “workflow” are on my blog
    *** this is why I prefer sites with no social passive-aggressive comments, nor social quid pro quo required (faves, likes, etc.)
    **** I have yet to see a collection on the internet of the “world’s best photographers”,
    in that their attitudes are caring about things I don’t, and/or the curator of such a list really does a poor job of it. often, they are replications of one or two photographers on the list. the ones that I have seen is just a circle jerk, and hype inside a bubble.

  • Vin Weathermon

    No worries (about spam..) I would prefer to never have any of my work compared “side to side” with thousands of other images (so I can relate to your comment on the best place to view them.) I guess my main point about saying “worlds best” was that whether you agree with those titles or not, their images do look better without watermarks. The reason the majority of very high-end photographers don’t watermark is because it cheapens the experience. I figure if they don’t do that, why should I?

    good shooting,

  • yopyop

    “but he actually did not mean[…]” : there is a great need of proof on this. I’m not saying you’re wrong but it is still debated and always a question of feelings and opinions, never about facts. Is there anything solid to support this point of view ?

  • yopyop

    “This is all way misunderstood.” As I disagree with you I’d want to say that it is, maybe, over-intellectualized and that maybe Capa was more about a litteral meaning rather than a figurative one. I am still personnaly waiting for a solid source that would give me a straight and definitive answer about that.

  • kodiak xyza

    « I figure if they don’t do that, why should I? »

    yeah, I cannot think that way. it may be that I come to the same conclusion, but the internets is still a weird place for wisdom from any one group. it has been more informative on doing the opposite, than following suit. I am reminded of the snark-slogan that makes fun of the Elvis Presley album title, and it goes: « 50,000,000 flies can’t be wrong: eat caca ».

    watermarks are a distraction, and they can only be minimized at best, but always a distraction. more so in the case of the internet-popular bright/sharp/saturated photos.


  • Omar Salgado

    You’ll never find that “solid source” as long as you consider distance in a literal way; it must be a metaphorical one since what we are dealing with is art. Maybe for snapshots the literal reading can be applied.

    Just think about this: most of the advices you find on the web use the words of Capa to promote shots filling the frame and even exluding the background by the use of bokeh. The guideline is to flatter the subject, but that only excludes the whole of it; aesthetics of what we perceive by the senses in a work of art, not mere beauty. When you take that approach in a metaphorical way, you’re not only forced to know your subject, but also to relate to it and to what it relates to.

    If I were to give you a “solid source”, this would be this: learn and master Art. My “solid sources” are books by the way of art, hermeneutics, semiotics and philosophy. I’m not bragging on myself, it’s just that I try to see things the same way their authors intended, and this inevitably leads one to tweak. But again, I think if the literal approach is useful to someone, then it may be.

  • Omar Salgado

    Sometimes I think it’s hard to interpret an artist’s words/work for the very reason you mention: “usually […] deprived from the context of what the famous photographer was doing.” This all leads to “quick-by-the-numbers articles to teach the masses about photography”. I couldn’t have said it better. But I recognise I introduced myself to learning photography by those articles. I think they’re great for newbies, but very limited in all aspects, and this last thing is what we must recognise; they’re just a launchpad.

  • yopyop

    Thanks for taking the time to reply :-) But when I asked for “solid sources”, it wasn’t about what could allow me to understand better what he said (I already have my opinion on that matter, everyone has its own interpretations, theories and so on), but more about historical traces, such as testimonies from people who were once close to him which could bring more light on what he meant exactly.
    It’s what bothers me a bit : people who claim to *know* what he meant instead of saying that it’s their own interpretation.

  • Fabrice Bacchella

    12. Do chimp ! Why take the risk to forever lost many pictures because some setting was wrong. LCD back are here to be used. I prefer to lose one picture on stage that seeing all my pictures are blurry because my ISO settings where wrong all the day or the flash didn’t fire. Just don’t stare at it but give a quick glance to check every thing is right

    19. Don’t listen at prime lenses hipsters. Use whatever focal length what you prefer. If it make sense for you to use a prime lense, use it. However don’t.

  • Chris Walker

    I agree with you entirely Alan. I feel like that is a tip that depends on the type of photography you are doing. I personally spend a fair amount of time in post-processing, I feel like it is an art-form in itself, but I do also understand the purist idea of wanting an untouched photo, seeing heavy editing as a sort of corruption.

  • RegularJoe62

    Although I agree in part with his thinking on using primes, it’s not always practical. We can’t always get to a position where we can get great shots with a 35mm lens, and for travel I’d prefer to use one relatively fast mid-range zoom. For lots of subjects (sports and wildlife come immediately to mind), zooms are far more practical.

  • RegularJoe62

    I agree about checking to a degree. If, for example, you’re shooting sports, take a few shots, then check to make sure your exposure is working as you shoot at various angles of the area of play or as you move about. Where I agree with the author is that you don’t need to check every shot.

    I also agree to an extent about using primes. When they’re appropriate for what you’re shooting, I love them. You get brighter images and (at least for me), tend to work more thoughtfully because you’re not fiddling with controls but are thinking about your composition. On the other hand, short primes aren’t at all suitable for a lot of things like sports, wildlife, even travel.