Get to know people, forget the rules, don’t read books on composition, embrace imperfection, print your photos, and more… Here are 43 amateurish tips for capturing better images.
1. Buy a camera, or ditch that, just use your phone.
2. Carry the camera with you, always
3. Don’t bag the camera, keep it outside.
4. Don’t be a sniper, get close, get closer.
If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.
— Robert Capa
6. People are not subjects, they are thinking, living beings. Take a genuine and honest interest in them. Same with dogs, and cats.
It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.
— Alfred Eisenstaedt
7. Get rid of the rule of thirds grid on your phone. Better still, forget that you ever heard anything about the rule of thirds.
Rules are foolish, arbitrary, mindless things that raise you quickly to a level of acceptable mediocrity, then, prevent you from progressing further.
— Bruce Barnbaum
8. Read, read, read.
9. Don’t read books on composition
10. Read books on what inspires great photographers to shoot great photographs.
11. Be opinionated, and don’t be shy of voicing that opinion in your photographs.
12. Have something important or meaningful to convey.
13. Know not just how to shoot, but what to shoot.
If you’re young and have the time, go and study. Study anthropology, sociology, economy, geopolitics.Study so that you’re actually able to understand what you’re photographing. What you can photograph and what you should photograph.
— Sebastio Salgado
14. Don’t try to replicate the awesome urban landscape you just saw your friend share on Facebook. Well, replicate by all means, but don’t share it on Facebook.
15. Travel. Travel. Travel.
16. When you are not traveling, shoot, shoot, shoot.
17. Shoot your apartment—in the kitchen, in the living room, in the bathroom; shoot the bed, shoot the ceiling fan, shoot the WC. There are photographs there.
18. Perfect is boring. Perfect is cliche. Imperfection is priceless.
19. A bad camera will force you to be more creative.
20. A low end sensor’s noise and distortion from a cheap lens will not ruin a photo, creativity will make it, and distortions and noise will add to it.
21. Ditch the DSLR, get a mirrorless camera.
22. Ditch the mirrorless, get a P&S.
23. Ditch the P&S, just use your phone.
24. When you feel lazy to go out and photograph, don’t go out. Shoot indoors.
25. When you feel lazy to get up early in the morning, don’t get up early in the morning. Shoot at noon.
26. Ditch the zoom, get a prime.
27. Shoot with the prime and no other lens for a month.
28. Ask the most intimidating person you see tomorrow if you can photograph him.
29. If he refuses, then ask the most intimidating person you see the day after tomorrow.
30. Be polite to those who critique your images, and follow their advice. They are doing you a favour.
31. Better still, argue with those who critique your images, if you don’t agree with their views—but be rational in your arguments.
32. Better still, just ignore all critique, and grow at your own pace. Ignore all praise too.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
— If, Rudyard Kipling
33. Let your photographs reflect your mood.
34. Learn how to post-process.
35. Don’t let the camera get in the way of a good photograph.
36. Learn to shoot manual, don’t let it stop you from shooting auto.
37. Don’t compete. Don’t bother about contests and awards. Photography is not a race, it is a medium of expression.
Competitions are for horses, not artists.
— Bela Bartok
38. React, don’t analyze.
39. React, and analyze.
40. Crop, crop, crop, crop. And learn how to do it right.
41. Print your photographs.
42. Visit photography exhibitions, and see the works of others.
43. Attach more value to the reaction of your non-photographer friends and family than your photographer friends. They know better which images work and which don’t.
About the author: Rajbir Bhattacharjee is a thirty-something photographer, inventor, musician, poet, liberal, martial artist, rationalist, animal lover, nature lover, jack of all trades and master of none. You can find more of his work on his website, Siftr, Flickr, Instagram, and 500px. This post was also published here.