Photography is a great way to express yourself and share something that’s important to you. But to take stunning photos, you need to know how to work with your subject and use composition to your advantage.
Start by looking at your surroundings with a quizzical eye and notice what’s interesting about them. And to make your photos even better, follow these tips:
Whether you’re photographing an animal or a piece of architecture, getting close is the key to creating a truly awe-inspiring image. Using a wide-angle lens or even a macro lens, you can get the most out of your subject, while still having enough flexibility to play around with framing and cropping later on.
If you’re shooting people, it can be difficult to get as close as you would like without them suspecting that you’re taking their picture. Try crouching down or wearing a dark jacket to make yourself less noticeable. It also helps to avoid eye contact, as it’s often a dead giveaway that you’re trying to take a photo.
You can practice getting closer by setting a goal for yourself, such as only shooting at an arm’s length distance away for a month or by pre-focusing your lens to a certain range and only shooting at that distance. Eventually, you’ll become more comfortable having a camera in your face and will be able to approach strangers on the street without worrying about them running after you.
Experiment With Perspective
A lot of photography is about perspective – making objects and people look bigger or smaller than they are. You can achieve this by changing the angle at which you shoot a scene – getting down low, or up high.
It is also possible to ignore the horizon line altogether – sometimes to great effect. This can emphasise a sense of movement, or an insecure feeling, or create a whimsical or comic effect.
Using leading lines is another popular visual composition technique, and it can help your audience navigate the spaces in your photographs. Lines that appear to converge at a single vanishing point draw the eye into the image and add depth. Other geometric shapes can also be used to compel the viewer into your image, such as circles, triangles and arches.
Aerial perspectives are another way to change your perspective, showing scenes from above and evoking feelings of power or grandeur. Aerial perspectives can be achieved by getting up high – on a building, for example, or even in a helicopter. This type of perspective can also be achieved using a tilt-shift lens, which allows for greater control over distortion and enables you to take panoramic shots without losing the corners of your frame.
Experimenting with forced perspective can be a fun way to play with your subject and the viewer, making them seem like they are dwarfed or giants in their surroundings. The best way to do this is with a tripod, as it is important that the camera and the subject remain perfectly still.
It can also be helpful to use a wide-angle lens for this type of shot. Creating images with an unnatural perspective can be difficult, but when done well can be truly stunning and compelling. You can also correct unwanted distortions with photo-editing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Just be careful not to overdo it, as a misjudged forced perspective can make your subjects seem unrealistic and fake. If you want to ensure your photos are realistic, try scouting for locations that have the right kind of scenery to make them look realistic.
Think Outside the Frame
Frames are an important part of a photograph and they can be used in creative ways. Framing your subject not only adds a bit of visual interest to the image but it can also help to give context to the subject. You can use a variety of things as frames, from natural ones like tree branches or doors to manmade ones such as windows or mirrors. The key is to ensure that the frame compliments the subject and doesn’t overpower it. The frame should also be a part of the story you are trying to tell and should help to draw the viewer into your picture.
For example, if you are shooting a hang glider in the mountains, a great way to make it look even more interesting is to frame it in with some epic mountain scenery. This not only makes the picture more interesting but it also adds to the sense of scale that is already present in the shot.
Another creative way to frame your subject is to shoot through different objects such as flowers, leaves or branches. This can create interesting reflections in the water or add some color to a landscape. It’s a fun way to get out of a rut and add something unexpected to your shots.
Getting outside the frame is also about thinking of the surrounding world in terms of your composition. Every photograph is a frame within a frame that defines what you see, but it also suggests the existence of something else that can’t be seen.
This could be a sense of claustrophobia or openness, and it can make the subject seem large or small. If you are shooting a portrait, this can be achieved by making the subject look out of a window or doorway. Similarly, using negative space can add an air of mystery to your shot and create tension by drawing the eye to the subject. By embracing these tips, you can take your photography to new heights. So, next time you’re out and about with your camera, try taking a few risks and experiment with these compositional techniques to make your photos stand out from the crowd.