If you want to shoot like a pro, you’ll need to dedicate yourself to learning the ins and outs of photography. On the one hand, that means working unencumbered – hands-free – so you can get the shots you want. That means working on things like composition and framing, too. That also means looking for lighting that adds drama and impact to your shots.
Let’s have a look at each of these pro tips in more detail.
Keep Your Hands Free
One pro tip that some photographers might never think about is the value of working hands-free. Think about it – if you can carry your cameras in a way that they are out of the way, out of your hands, yet at your fingertips, your hands (and upper body, for that matter) are free to move around. That means you can get into your camera bag more quickly and easily to snag a lens, a filter, or a new battery for your camera. That also means that as you walk around looking for the shot, your hands and arms are unencumbered from cameras that are hanging from uncomfortable shoulder straps.
That freedom of movement is invaluable as you seek to take better photos! If you really want to improve your workflow, get your cameras on your hips where they are out of the way and safe. I personally love my Spider Holster SpiderPro (shown above) for just those reasons. I was sick of having to walk around with one hand holding my camera body so it didn’t bounce against my chest as I walked.
That’s not to mention that I love to shoot at the beach, so having both of my hands free in case I slipped on wet rocks was a high priority. So, I picked up a SpiderPro, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It puts my camera on my hips, so my upper body is free. It’s more comfortable, too, because the weight of my gear is distributed at my waist, as opposed to on a flimsy strap on one shoulder. What’s more, if I’m out adventuring over rough terrain, my camera is safe right at my side, with no worry that if I trip and fall that I’ll crush my camera as I do it. Besides, with the SpiderPro, my hands are free to catch myself should I stumble.
Better yet, though my camera is out of the way, it’s not in an inconvenient spot. In fact, with my camera at my hip, I can easily retrieve it, bring it to my eye, and frame up a shot. It’s the best of both worlds!
Don’t take my word for it, though – check out the SpiderPro in the hands-on review video above from B&H Photo Video. And if you have a compact or a point-and-shoot camera, there’s hands-free joy awaiting you, too. Spider Holster makes the Black Widow Holster (shown above) specifically for shooters like you that want to enjoy working hands-free. That’s because the Black Widow was designed to work with your body movements and conform to your body, so it’s ideal for safely carrying your camera, even in thick crowds. And the added beauty of both the Black Widow and the SpiderPro is that they lock your camera into place. That means you can carry it safely and securely without worry of it falling off or getting stolen.
Talk about improving your workflow!
Create Unique Compositions
Part of what sets professional photos apart from those taken by amateurs is a strong attention to the manner in which the shot is composed. By that I mean that the pros often find ways to create a unique composition. For example, rather than standing at eye level and snapping a photo of a landscape, try kneeling down, sitting down, heck – even laying down – to get a different point of view of the scene. You can also try getting above it all, perhaps with a drone, for a real eye-popping look! Something as simple as altering the viewer’s eye level can not only make your photo stand out more, but it can also create a more engaging viewing experience for people that look at your photo.
Likewise, if you’re taking a portrait, try to avoid the “traditional” portrait in which the model is posed and looking right down the barrel of the lens. Instead, try a unique composition in which you take a faceless portrait or focus on a single body part, like someone’s clasped hands. You can even utilize a different perspective to create a more interesting portrait, such as getting above the model and shooting down toward them or taking a very low shooting position and shooting up at them. The point is that if you want your images to be more compelling – whether they are landscapes, portraits, or something in between – you need to find ways to give viewers a more unique experience when looking at your photos.
Concentrating on interesting ways to compose the shot will help you achieve that goal.
Try Using a Frame Within a Frame
A great technique to use to add structure to a shot is to use a frame within a frame. And by structure, I don’t necessarily mean shape. Instead, I mean that a frame within a frame serves to help you build a better viewing experience. For example, a frame can restrict a viewer’s view of the scene, helping you to block out elements that aren’t needed or are distracting. Frames also serve the purpose to direct the viewer’s attention toward the subject.
In the image above, the ice cave acts as a frame that helps drive our eye toward the man in the background. So, even though the subject is quite small relative to the rest of the shot, he’s still the first thing we see. In other words, the frame within a frame technique helped the photographer increase the visual strength of the subject, and a strong subject is certainly something a good photo needs to have. A frame within a frame can have the same impact on the photos you take too.
Add Drama With Great Lighting
A final pro tip for getting better photos is to find light that adds drama to your shots. Now, there are all kinds of different light, from harsh and contrasty to soft and warm. Light has color, direction, and intensity, all of which you need to consider when creating your photos. For the most drama, soft, golden light at dawn and dusk is ideal. It adds warmth to your shots, and with the sun low on the horizon, it also produces long shadows that are great for adding depth.
Speaking of shadows, positioning yourself such that the light enters the shot from the side will help you take advantage of those long shadows. This is called sidelighting, and photos that make use of it have a wonderful dimensionality that helps the image look much more like a three-dimensional scene rather than a two-dimensional capture of it. If you can hunt for great light, work on framing and composition, and outfit yourself with gear that makes better shots more likely, you’ll be well on your way to creating photos that look more like the pros!