Seven Tips For Better Photographs

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Doesn’t be a fair weather photographer. Often the best photographs are made under less than ideal conditions. These kinds of images are made on dark, cloudy, rainy or snowy days, at the crack of dawn, at sunset, or in the dark of the night. That doesn‘t means you should be schlepping your equipment around during a tornado but it certainly means shooting at a time of year or time of day when other people are not making photographs.

Make the image bold. Use strong composition with leading lines that say speed and power or use a formal, symmetrical organization to create a Zen-like quiet mood. Use colors that by themselves could be the subject of the photograph or use little or no color.

Avoid eye-level camera placement. Climb a ladder, lamppost or a hill to provide your entry with a dramatic camera angle. Lie on your stomach, use wide-angle lenses and shoot up against the sky to simplify the background. When you’re shooting like this wear your grungies not your Gucci and don’t be afraid to get to yourself and your clothes dirty in pursuit of a prizewinner.

Don’t be passive. Have your photograph make a statement. Photograph subjects you are passionate about, not ones you think judges will like. What the judges want to see—hey, I’ve been one—is that the shooter cares about the subject being photographed.

Get close to your subject. Use a macro lens, close-up filters, or a bellows to show a simple everyday object in a way that has not been depicted before or at least not lately.

Carry your cameras with you wherever you go. You never know when a great photo opportunity will pop up right in front of you.

Analyze images from a specific shoot to see the entire “take” from a day’s shoot at one time. (While I’m not a Lightroom fan, this is something the program is really good at.) Whatever you do, don’t ask friends. They like you and will say how great your work is even if it may not be. Seek out others but be prepared to hear that you may not be the photographic genius your sister Kate thinks you are.

Even Seven-time Grammy-winning pianist Emanuel Ax practices four hours a day. The simplest and best advice I can give you about creating prize-winning photographs is the answer to that classic question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice.