Tips to Successful Photography

Do you want your favourite photograph emblazoned on your T-shirt? Turns out it isn’t all that difficult to convert your photographs into stencils. Read the instructions to discover how simple it is. Most children do some form of this during their formative years – and now every parent can relive those fridge-covered days!

But the first thing you have to ask yourself: Which photograph do I use? None of my current photo’s seem worthy of putting on my chest! How can I improve?

Since the internet is filled with jargon-filled solutions telling you how to be a better or serious photographer, here’s my advice that you can take to the bank:

Ask Stupid Questions


Books to Read, Learn and Apply

Photographers with a passionate zeal to produce works of art want to test the boundaries, the options and their equipment. Don’t let shyness or fear of failure get in the way: Ask everyone you know what they know.

But most importantly: Ask at your local camera-store, join a club, meet people – and ask millions of questions. Take millions of photographs of anything. Work out where you are going wrong – and try again. "Failure is just an opportunity to try again"

Then ask yourself the obvious questions: "Where did I stuff up?", "How the heck did I do that?", "How do take black&white or sepia photographs?", "Where did I leave my tripod?" and "Oh sheesh, shutter speed, where do I change that on this blasted thing?". When you have solved these age-old problems, you are going well.

Then open the manual or a good library book. You could even purchase a few books – depending on how passionate you are. If you are like me, you can simply fiddle with the settings till you work it all out. I mean, we worked out how to use our Xbox, PSP, Microwave and Nokia™ Mobile phone without ever reading the instruction manual! Didn’t we?

Keep a Record of Your Journey

Anyone here not watched Rob Roy or Brave Heart? What about Coyote Ugly or Thelma & Louise? Big, Never-Ending-Story, Over-The-Hedge? Ah come on! Somebody!

Anyway, the point is that each of these movies asks questions that need answering. The lead character (you) goes off in search of an answer to the all important question that keeps them living in order that their lives are more complete and that death will be worth waiting for.

You can do the same with photography. Take the time to ask questions that have a journey worthy of traveling. Keep a diary of your travels, jotting down the times, moments, lessons, results, street name, contrast, exposure, shutter-speed and phone-number of that person who volunteered … or something like that.

Listen & Learn from Mentors


Bono Illuminated in Blue, U2

One of the joys of viewing the amazing photographs on flickr.com is viewing the amazing photography of visionaries, artists, photoshop-masters and professional photographers. Many of these people spend every waking moment either looking for that eternal-image or creating masterpieces that defy laws of nature and assumed-logic.

Flickr.com enables us to ask these people how they did it. If you are lucky they will tell you.

Simply post your questions online at flickr.com or similar and wait for a response. Most people like to share therefore you are sure to be told how to better your work.

Play Mix-n-Match With ALL Your Ideas

This is an age-old technique for brain-storming. The big company’s like GOOGLE and IBM do this regularly. That’s how they come up with interesting new ideas to test on their websites.

Take two seemingly un-related subjects and intertwine them…. have a go. This is not as easy as it might seem. But it is a challenge worth trying!

What’s Your Angle Buddy?

Photo-imagery is the perfect medium to express one’s thoughts. It enables the child within to show-off, the adult to present repressed thoughts, the teenager to express their rebellion and the house-wife to escape the mundane.

Take time to play with your new toy. Your camera is not just any tool: This one has lots of options! A shoulder-strap makes it an accessory to your usual clothing. A belt-clip hides it from unsuspecting mediums. A cover keeps it covet. A zoom-lens enables you to hide further away to capture your target.

Play with the settings: The aperture, the focus, the filters, the exposure, the built-in features, the zoom-lens, even create a home-made kaleidescope-tube!

The most fun is had when you change direction and angle: Point up walls, into the heavens, across the horizon, down the beach, over the bonnet.


Airing Out

You Only Get ONE Life!

Rather than taking the easy route, or simply following in the footsteps of others or predecessors: DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

Don’t let other people tell you what can and cannot be done with a camera. If someone tells you it didn’t work – they mean they failed to find a way. When someone tells you it is stupid, they are ignorant and uncreative. If you are told "It will never work", they have failed to open their mind far enough. No one can tell you the future: It’s yet to be made and it’s yours to make!

Pretend you are going to die tomorrow. Act like you have only one life to live.

Today has finally arrived and your are going to take photographs of it before it becomes tomorrow!

Get Proactive

Ever heard this and thought it sounded stupid: "Nothing is worth waiting for". Read it again. "NOTHING IS WORTH WAITING FOR". Except maybe a bus or train, or an aeroplane.

Go out and do it yourself. If you think time is a problem, you are a procrastinator. If you find no time for yourself, you are slave to someone – escape you idiot, escape! If you are forever looking for something to photograph – stop looking. Like girlfriends and good restaurants, your best photographs will only appear when you stop actively searching.

Don’t sit around the house wondering if the time is right: Find your camera, get out into the sunshine or rain, aim-straight and shoot photographs of everything you like.

Sleep


Sleeping

There are few times in the day when you can actively think about what you can and cannot do with your time.

Sleeping is good for this. It allows the mind to roll everything over and over, intertwining the thoughts, creating interesting anomalies and analogies, thinking out each potential situation and dreaming out new ideas, allowing you to wake up with a fresh mind. And maybe a new bunch of ideas for future photographs!

I always find that my best photographs come from looking at things around me. Then I dwell on them for a while. This might include simply sitting quietly thinking it through. But I find the best remedy is a nights sleep, a good breakfast and a hot shower are all excellent ways of getting the mind into action. When the mind is active, the imagination is fertile – and great ideas are born. And then great photographs are born!

There are NO Rules!

Apparently there are rules to this sport. Like any game, they are meant to be broken, questioned and stomped on. Unless you have to ask permission.

Some believe in dividing your subject into thirds, quarters and hexoctodecahydreans, thereby giving the actual subject matter an area on the screen all of it’s own.

Here is a simpler idea: Think about where this photograph will end up — and you’re probably thinking "My computer wallpaper!" So, stare down the barrel of the lens, put your subject matter in a section of the screen where your standard icons are NOT – then shoot. Chances say you chop half the subject out or it moves at the last possible gigasecond – so it will work perfectly as computer-wallpaper!

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3 thoughts on “Tips to Successful Photography

  1. Great advice to give it all ones got. We are only going this way once. You should want to do it right.

    That’s part of the reason I jumped in head first into this blog/pod/vlog world! Time is moving on, time to create something.

    On the photography angle, I am developing a vlog segment for my new online business. I need to know what type/kind of digital movie camera to purchase with appropriate software to use on the site. I guess I’ll need a set of lights too.

    Thanks for any info or links.

    Gary

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  2. Gary,
    As I say with all my friends who ask about what’s best: Technology is changing so fast around us, what I suggest today could be outdated tomorrow.
    All I can suggest is that you check out local camera stores rather than the big outlets. Your local community wants your business – therefore (and this does not apply in all cases) they know their product well.
    The big guys tend to stick a teenage salesman in the front room, thinking that everyone who walks in the door wants to purchase the goods. We’ve experienced this first hand when purchasing white-goods: It’s never funny to be told what you can read on the front of the machine!
    I hope the vlog works out: It sounds like an interesting venture. I’m most interested in seeing the webpage when it is available.

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  3. Thanks Stephen,

    Sometimes the obvious, is just, well, obvious!
    I’ll try the local angle without trying to over complicate it.

    Will keep you aprised on the project’s development….maybe you’ll be up for an online interview when we’re ready?!

    Gary

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