People have different reasons to buy different magazines. Some buy them for the information they provide. Some buy them to keep themselves updated about their hobbies and interests. You know why I buy them? To look at the pictures. Laughing, are you? I don't blame you! But let me explain. I like to study the different pictures in magazines - advertisements as well as content. What I love about the pictures is how crisp they are. You look at the picture of a diamond necklace, and you want it; you look at the droplets of condensation on a cool Coca Cola can and you feel thirsty. You look a cake and you want to eat it! A good picture can evoke some of the strongest emotions in us. You look at a picture of your dog when he was a puppy, playing with a ball in your garden, and it might just bring tears to your eyes to realize he is no more.
How to Click Better Photos
It takes a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of guidance and a lot of practice to click good pictures. But what is important is the fact that - it is quite possible to become a good photographer and take flattering pictures. Find out about some tips for taking better photos as you read on...
Tip 1 - Know Your Device Well
This is especially true of digital photography. Digital cameras are now highly sophisticated than what they were less than a decade ago. As an amateur photographer, you may be at a complete loss of how to use your new digital camera! What to do? Worship the User Guide! The user guide comes with all technical information about your device. Study it carefully. Educate yourself about the various settings of the camera, different presets available, what all you can do with them, how to edit pictures, zoom, crop, delete etc. Familiarize yourself with your device as much and as soon as you can.
Tip 2 - Experiment on Manual Mode
Most digital cameras come with a lot of presets that allow you to capture pictures in all sorts of conditions - dusk, dawn, landscape, indoor, portraits, motion etc. In the beginning, this is a good way to learn to use your device. But as you become comfortable with handling the camera, switch to manual mode. Experiment with the aperture, the exposure time, the zoom, the resolution of the picture and other such details. Play with the focus - do you want the foreground in focus or the background or the subject? Try clicking different things on manual mode and try to understand the difference between a preset and a manual mode. Why a picture in the portrait preset looks better than when it is clicked on manual mode. Identify the differences. Once you do, you will have already understood half of the things you need to do to click different kinds of pictures.
Tip 3 - Use a Tripod Stand
This may prove to be an exceptionally useful tip. Till you become used to handling our camera, your palms may tend to shake so that most of the pictures you click are out of focus. Use a tripod stand in such cases. Some people have shaky hands to begin with - tripod stands could be a blessing for them. A tripod stand will also let you take a group picture without you being out of the picture! Isn't that nice? Finally tripod stands can also be an indulgence - if you want to indulge in yourself and click self-portraits! (I am sure if nothing else, then THIS will surely serve as motivation for you to invest in a tripod stand... right?)
Tip 4 - Natural Lighting
As far as possible, click pictures in natural lighting rather than using the Flash-On mode. The problem with flash pictures is that they throw disproportionate light so that only certain things in the picture are unnaturally illuminated. The difference is particularly evident when clicking pictures at night. Avoid the flash mode as much as possible. Completely avoid it in the day time; while at night, prefer to use natural lighting of bulbs and tubes in the house. Also try to use reflected lights rather than direct lights while clicking picture at night. Pictures in soffit lighting look the best, as the light is soft and uniform.
Tip 5 - Use a Viewfinder
Using a viewfinder makes landscape photography a lot easier. A viewfinder is a small frame - usually the height and width of which can be adjusted - that helps you cut out and see a part of the 'view'. It helps you decide what you want and don't want in the picture. This is especially helpful while clicking pictures of a beautiful landscape. Sometimes we are so taken-in by the beauty of nature, that we are unable to decide which part of the magnanimous view will look good as a picture, cut out from the rest of the view. A viewfinder helps you do exactly that. It is a great tool to learn about the basics of composition, an integral part of a good photograph.
Tip 6 - Practice, Practice, Practice!
If one is to believe what Malcolm Gladwell has said in 'Outliers: The Story of Success' (and there is reason enough to believe him), then you must invest around 10,000 hours in photography (or any pursuit you wish to excel in) before you master it. That is a LOT of time! How do you do that? Practice. Start early on and practice clicking pictures everyday. Click your family members, click your friends, click buildings, roads, your house, the garden, trees, flowers, insects, clouds... Carry your camera around with you when you step out of the house. As you develop an eye for photography, you will be able to capture interesting moments of day-to-day life along with mastering your technique. Another tip is to click multiple pictures of the same thing in different modes. This will help you understand just how your camera works, and exactly what effect does each of the parameters (like aperture, zoom, exposure time etc.) have on a picture.
Tip 7 - Read Up and Interact
Finally, one learns from one's own experiences as well as from those of others. So subscribe to some good photography magazines and read about people's experiences with different kinds of cameras, different techniques of photography etc. If there is a particular photographer you particularly revere and like the works of, see if there is an autobiography of the person. Get a copy and read it. You may even check out the official websites of professional photographers and contact them (if contact details have been provided). Make sure to attend local photography workshops. Participate in photography competitions. Increase your exposure to the field of photography, and instead of getting into photography, let a little bit of photography get into you! It works better that way (for you may easily pull yourself out of something, but you cannot dissociate something you have imbibed in yourself!).
As an amateur, there are a lot of common mistakes that you are bound to make. Learn about them and avoid them from day one! Mistakes are pretty much like bad habits - once imbibed, they are hard to get rid of. So make an effort to consciously avoid them from the day you begin to work on and sharpen your photography skills.
These tips may seem like a lot of work to simply click a good picture. But it is better to inculcate a good technique or a good habit rather than to simply click a few fluke good shots, isn't it? Also, let these tips become a habit rather than a protocol; it won't seem so difficult if you manage to do that. Take some time out of your busy schedule and invest it in photography, and I am sure you will be much sought after at your family and friend get-togethers and functions! Good luck!