I’ll say it right away – you can’t be taught to have a photographic eye. Similarly, you can’t learn to be a genius or be talented. If you aren’t born with it, that means, it’s not meant to be. However, learning to be a better photographer than a majority of the population is possible; you can show your photos to your friends or colleagues with pride, modestly saying that “anyone can do it”.
To learn you simply need to be able to be self-critical, have analytical capabilities, and be able to accept the constructive criticism of authority figures. Any recommendations listed here will be general, not aimed at you personally. However, more specific recommendations are listed in Evan Sharboneau’s book “Trick Photography and Special Effects”. Here are a couple of suggestions in order to become a better photographer.
Learn to observe.
Without the ability to observe, everything else becomes pointless. Look around, notice interesting and unusual things. Remember that one of the foundational tools of a photographer is contrast: colors, forms, relationships, and expressions.
Get accustomed to knowing that you do not know how to photograph.
If you are just a starting photographer, but many of your shots seem to be masterpieces it means you are not very self-critical. Learn to criticize yourself. Look for problems in your shots, figure out ways to make them better. Psychologically, this attitude will give you the foundation on which you can start moving forward.
Build the composition of your shots correctly.
Try to avoid having a misbalance among the different parts of the photograph. Don’t allow one part to outweigh another. Build your frame with the help of simple, geometric figures that the eye will notice: triangles, squares, circles, and the sort. Use the objects you are photographing to create these figures.
Learn to look at the entire frame, not just at the object you are photographing.
Notice the background, especially the edges of the frame. Before taking the picture, get rid of any distracting details. Later, it will be easier to edit the image. Forget any negative advice. More often than not, beginners are scared off from taking a picture “against the sun”. You can do it! If you couldn’t, then silhouettes in front of a sunset would be impossible.
Don’t believe everything you read online.
A majority of forum regulars are workers for the IT-departments of big companies and are bored with their daily lives. They are simply looking for entertainment and communication. Talented photographers very rarely visit online forums – they are busy having photoshoots. Finding a role model you can learn something from is practically impossible online.
Don’t think that you can become a good photographer if you buy an expensive camera.
This is so far away from the truth, that even marketing experts realize it is impossible to spread this myth. Keep in mind -before you will become a professional, you will have to buy several newer and better cameras. Cultivate your talents. If you learn something, develop it in practice. Don’t stop where you are – keep moving forward.
Trick Photography and Special Effects by Evan Sharboneau