The 12 Tips of Christmas - Part 5

This past Christmas, I posting 12 tips to improve your photography on my Facebook page ( As Facebook has limited room to post, I'm expanding those tips in this blog. Stay tuned for all twelve tips (some by themselves and some combined), and if you want even more, join me for one of my photo courses!

The Twelve Tips of Christmas

Tip # 7 - Put your self in a good spot

"The angle of a photograph can change a photograph entirely. Consider the background in your photos, how much your subject fills the frame (Robert Capa once said "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough"), how simple your subject's surroundings are, how the other objects in the frame enhance the story you are trying to tell. Perhaps try a different orientation - portrait or landscape - which better suits the subject of your photo."

Sometimes, when you're down and out, getting a new perspective on life can help to lift your spirits and bring the joy back into life. "Count your blessings" my Mom used to always tell me. And getting a new perspective on your photography can add new interest to your photos as well.

When you approach a subject, first take the picture the way you would normally - straight on, standing up, with your camera pointed at the subject. Plain and simple, right? And a little boring usually. 

Now, consider what you are trying to say in your photo, how can you change the perspective to better tell that story? How can you give it a different viewpoint by looking at it from a different angle? Instead of jumping from photo to photo, stay in one spot for a while and consider the different ways you might approach the subject of your images.

Consider what your viewer is looking at when they look at the image. Are they catching the detail you did when you were taking the photo? Does your photo bring their focus to that subject? How can you better attract their eye to that detail?

Not only will you give a different perspective, but you will help your photos to stand out in the crowd. Remember that first photo? That's probably the photo hundreds of people have taken before. How might you change your perspective to make that photo different? 

Finally, don't be afraid of what people might think about you as you're taking those photos. Lying prone on the tracks as you take a photo might seem weird, but the image might look fantastic - but be sure you're safe in doing so! Make sure there are no trains coming along that track, or that you're not going to fall as you lean way out off of that building!

If your pictures are easy to take, someone probably already has it, so be original!

Tip # 6 - Be Creative

"There are lots of ways to keep your photos creative. Just look around you. Try using reflections of your subject in other objects, like your kids opening their presents in the reflection of the glass ball on the tree. Try tilts of your camera, try zooming as you take the shot, try making the image darker, or lighter. Try black & white. Whatever you do though, remember that it is about the subject, not about the effect - after that, experiment!"

"Be Creative" sounds simple enough, right? It's one of those phrases though, that when you say it, it's hard to do! When it comes time to actually get creative, the juices don't always flow the way you want them to. You know that you're going to make better photos when you are more creative, but how do you do that?

One way to get creative is simply to get out there and take more photos. Taking more gives you a chance to try different things and see how they turn out. Experiment. Try different things that work (see tip # 7). 

Try using different lens lengths, apertures, shutter speeds. Try different perspectives. Try standing in a different place. Put your camera somewhere unusual, or difficult to get to. Think about how the image should look, not just how it looks to you as you stand looking at the subject. 

Once you've taken the photo, consider other ways to be creative. Try Black & White, or Sepia, or other effects like posterization. But remember that the effect is not the main thing - the image is the main thing and the effect is meant to enhance the image, not detract from it.

Still not feeling it? Then find other photographers to hang out with, who can critique your photos and help you try new things. Don't have a group of people to meet with, then try posting your photos on a sharing site like Flickr and encourage feedback from friends and relatives.

In the end, your photos will be better - and more creative.

Read more on any of the other Tips:

Part 1 - Get to know your gear
Part 2 - Use your camera tools
Part 3 - Use Composition Rules
Part 4 - Tell a Story, and Keep it Simple
Part 5 - Put yourself in a good spot, Be creative
Part 6 - Change it up, Make it Unique
Part 7 - Get the shot quick, be brutal and show your best work

(c) 2014 Gary Scott - Gary's Lens Photography


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